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Probably a bad idea to jump in now... (Gaming)

by Kermit @, Raleigh, NC, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, 15:10 (126 days ago) @ Claude Errera

...but I wanted to point out that I don't think Cruel and Battuta were actually talking about the same thing, which might explain the vast difference between their viewpoints.

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Cruel kept talking about that stuff that you have to get out or you'll die - that's an internal imperative. (I'm not a particularly creative person, but I've felt it on occasion, and I've certainly worked way too many hours straight trying to make it real from whatever's in my head.)

Battuta was talking about a phenomenon that's generally driven by management - "we have goals to meet, we're not there, you need to put in extra time until we get there." It's not molded by an internal fire, it's a bean counter saying "we need more from you if this is going to work."

They're fundamentally different things. They might seem similar (they can have the same deleterious effects on health and relationships, for example)... but one impels with internal force, and the other impels with external force.

And unfortunately, both have been referred to with the term 'crunch'.

I could be wrong, and they could be talking about exactly the same thing, and just have wildly different viewpoints... but this is my read.

I'm glad you posted this when you did, Claude, because it saved me some typing. :) From the start I felt like they were talking past each other and perhaps making category errors. I think G. Battuta defines crunch very discretely--given what he experienced with the institutionalized crunch that exists in the game industry, he has an understandably visceral reaction to anything that appears to be a defense of that. I don't have the answer to crunch in that context, but I'm always glad to hear about studios making efforts not to over-extend their talent.

I've thought a lot about the issues Cruel talks about, and I think he complicates his argument by defining "crunch" more broadly. I think Cruel is thinking about the kind of singular focus creatives have when they are in a state of flow. This is a real thing, which does blind people to all other concerns for periods of time, and time being a limited asset, what they ignore suffers. Cruel complicates his argument further by calling this sacrifice and pulling mental health into it. As far as generalizations go, what Cruel says is correct--many of the greatest works of art seem born of struggle and pain--the more we know about artists the more this seems to be true (Shakespeare seems an outlier, but we know little about him as a person). The idea of suffering for art has been around forever and that phrase itself does distort how artists think of themselves. Here's the truth: experience is necessary for art, experience requires living, and living + time inevitably contains suffering. And the seemingly causal relationship between the quality of art and suffering is widely noticed (I remember one point in The World According to Garp where the title character talks about how horribly his life is going, yet the writing is great.) The great danger of focusing on this phenomena is that when you describe it, it's easy to sound like you're prescribing it, and I think that's another aspect that offended Battuta. Artist have used this mindset to excuse abusing themselves and others for the sake of art. IMHO, Cruel comes too close to making suffering sound like a prerequisite. Suffering aways comes. It doesn't need courting.

Can I also say that I loved what Robot Chickens said about art uncovering joy? That was brilliant. Robot also acknowledges that joy must be "acquainted" with suffering. You guys ever read Raymond Carver? An alcoholic, he suffered for much of his life until middle age, where he became recognized as a master of the short story. One of my favorite stories of his was called "A Small Good Thing". An early version captured the agony, randomness, and injustice of suffering. The final version, the one I love, is an extended version. Spoiler: he finds the joy.

But let's just take suffering off the table for this discussion--I consider that to pretty much be a pre-existing condition regardless. I've come to think there's only two elements required to create art: honesty and work. The tough part is estimating how much--it's always way more than you think.


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