Saturday, December 10th, 2005
Ryan Moeller has added further comments to this entry on consumerism and Katamari Damacy. In addition to his comments, he points to the Learning Games Initiative, in whose work, and other initiatives like it, I have lots of interest.
But I want limit my use of the term consumerism to its pejorative context: in this sense, generally speaking, consumerism points to a direct connection between purchase and happiness and other related issues. This is what I meant by the allure and want comment in modern magazines. Fads, looks, styles, and poses–all these generate in an audience a want of those things for their own sake. “I want that lipstick,” Marv says, without knowing why, and having no other alternatives. But what does Marv himself produce or create?
In this sense, consumerism also infects education, in that people will take course after course only if they think it will get them a job (the job for its own sake is the key). Yes, we all need jobs, but the point is made regardless because we don’t often think about the undertow.
I am a consumer myself. I wanted Gran Turismo 4 no matter what. I played GT3 and had to have the next version because it had to be bigger, better, and badder. So I purchased it and it gave me a sense of “electricty” just to hold it. I know now that I had been taken for a ride: yeah, the physics had been improved, but nothing about the overall stimulus changed. The world of Gran Turismo just isn’t that interesting.
It’s a different story with Syberia. I wanted the next version to finish the story begun in the first. Was I satisfied? Sure. I wanted the story not the game for many reasons. I find that Katamri delights at many complex levels, one being the experience and design possibilities of its spaces. Delight in Katamari may be triggered by the desire to get more, but I disagree that this is a specific consumerist desire or impulse. Then again, I am also open to counter claims. Very much open.
My personal view is that we live in age of viscious consumerism (Christmas anyone?). I got an earful of this from students the other day as they detailed their complicated woes with the financial aid process, text books, and the future.