Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I promise, and I deliver. A covey of Electronic Arts Executives and a brace of elves, well aged and cellared, and now set out for my readers in the form of a cold buffet, providing light and pleasing refreshment for a hot summer's day luncheon.


For the Hatred of ElvesTM - Part 1

It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilisation into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image.

Ostensibly, Marx and Engels were talking about capitalist expansionism in this statement above.

Or were they?

Take a look at this quote from a recent interview with the head of Electronic Arts Asia:

They actually like our [EA's] games - they like the Western content in the sense that it's graphically different, it's more authentic than what they're used to in the fantasy role-playing games that typically come out of Japan or in the online market


And so the cultural colonisation of these hapless Asiatic peoples with the evils of Western civilisation is to continue. First we broke down Chinese walls to insist that they smoke our opium, and now we’re storming the ports and barricades with our, or rather EA’s, “authentic” assortment of elves, trolls, orcs and what have you. And like a newly liberated Iraq, these gaming heathens will supposedly open their hearts to our cultural warrior-missionaries, embracing their chance to be civilised with a fantasy world that is at last “authentic”: the one true Fantasy to rule them all and to bind them; the way, the truth and the life points.

Oh dear. Here was I thinking, most naively, that the only people who went around proclaiming the authenticity of their childish little fantasies were Christians.

And as with religion, my immediate reaction was simply that it goes against all notions of elementary logic to talk of levels of authenticity in relation to make-believe; a reaction best expressed by the phrase “my authentic arse!”. I was, of course, basing this rather snappish judgement on the idea that any conception of “authenticity” rather defeats the purpose of “fantasy”. “Contradiction in terms”, would be another serviceable phrase.

But then I wondered: am I being unjust? I decided to look beyond the semantics of the issue and give the chap the benefit of the doubt. One should at least try to understand what he meant by, what on the surface, would seem to be a completely ludicrous statement. And to be fair, it may have just one of those thoughtless, throw-away comments from a company that after all, is famed for making thoughtless, throwaway games.

But even given the most generous of interpretations, I suspect that I will remain vexed by an underlying attitude that I believe to have currency in the world at large, an attitude that has been spelt out and made blatant by this comment. Hence, though I’m not an otaku boy by any means, I find myself feeling compelled to defend the Japanese against these patronising insinuations. Where cultural imperialism strikes with its armies of authentically Western elves, I feel compelled to leap into the fray in a defensive position alongside their unauthenticated Eastern brethren.

to be continued...

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