Monday, October 24th, 2005
Ben Vershbow at if:Book writes of Katamari Damacy:
I’ve played a bit of Katamari lately and have enjoyed it. It’s a world charged with static electricity, everything sticks. Each object has been lovingly rendered in its peculiarity and stubbornness. If your katamari picks up something long and narrow, say, a #2 pencil, and attaches to it in such a way that it sticks out far from the clump, it will impede your movement. Each time the pencil hits the ground, you have to kind of pole vault the entire ball. It’s not hard to see how the game trains visual puzzle-solving skills, sensitivity to shape, spatial relationships (at least virtual ones), etc.
That being said, I agree with Bob and Rylish (links in original) that there is an internal economy at work here that teaches children to be consumers. A deep acquisition anxiety runs through the game, bringing to mind another Japanese pop phenom: Pokémon. Pokémon (called “Pocket Monsters” in Japan) always struck me as particularly insidious, far more predatory than anything I grew up with, because its whole narrative universe is based on consumption.
I don’t think that Katamari teaches children to be consumers. It’s not “acquisition anxiety.” Everyone knows that Katamari is about turning children into space-craving nuke-monkeys.
Consumer here is just too vague. We need a stronger link here.
Options in the list: could be greed. Could be a dehumanizing dark for mistaking people as pencils.
Could be the player has something entirely different on their minds.
Sometimes I take a look at teen magazines, like Teen People. There is darkness in these texts, weaving allure with want. Allure cannot exist without want.
Rylish’s argument is more nuanced:
so, we cannot really discuss games and learning and literacy without spending some time grounding that conversation in the economic and cultural environments which drive game production. my worry is not that games are too complicated or too violent or too masculine or too racist but that they are these things in order to perpetuate consumerism.
For the sake of perspective, what concern isn’t mixed up with some consumerist motivation or market drive? Even moraity needs a market.