I took a class called “Scientific Issues” back when I was in college. It was a philosophy course, I guess.
It was pretty engaging. There was some weird logic stuff about “ravenswans”. Debates about “direct observations” with microscopes or glasses. And some general talk about people getting bad vibes from heliocentrism.
Perhaps if we had actually read the whole book, I might have read about other things like “what counts as playing God” or “the relationship between science and racism” or “the ethics of experimentation” or “figuring out what counts as a renewable fucking resource”.
You could really go on for a long fucking time about scientific issues. But it almost seems like the deeper we plumb the natural world to find its rules, the same controversies arise.
Scientists do their best to reveal what’s in nature, while also pursuing some abstract need to win against the bad vibes in the universe. They combine technical work and interpersonal efforts and dream of the world improving.
What a spicy fucking vibe.
Scientists are okay with the potential calamities brought by advancements in weaponry and resource gathering, while coming up with contingencies to keep things from getting too wacky.
How fucking balanced, how fucking adult, how totally fucking sweet.
The game never ends, until we poison the globe or all fuse together in a computer or the nukes come down or we find a new planet.
Even then, though, it feels like nothing would change that much. It all comes down to one person following their heart.
It’s all about being okay with making a bit of trouble to solve a problem. It’s all about being willing to disrupt peacefulness for the sake of new stability.
It’s all about willing to provoke discomfort and anxiety in others and even yourself, for the sake of making the world feel beautifully more exciting than it used to be. It’s all about that sense that your “heart’ has found a way to grow and blossom, isn’t it?
And being sure you can tell the difference between an out of control, goofy fucking bastard, and you, isn’t it? Scientists and uh, propagators of it know they are a little bit like the mad science stereotype.
But if your theories are fresh, you intentions are mostly moral, and you can appreciate the beauty of things changing imperfectly, you DEFINITELY feel like a valuable fucking human being when you publish a hypothesis.
You can separate yourself from the “mad science” by supercharging a sense of “good vibes” into your work. And you’ll live your whole life entirely convinced you can sense exactly what emotions are flooding the chests of everyone who doubts your brilliance.
The game doesn’t seem to end. So how about a gaming-based metaphor? To keep your feelings under control. To help minimize the likelihood of scientific abuse by a tiny amount.
Do you know about tier lists in fighting games? Sometime after 2001, people started trying to organize fighting game characters into categories of how generally good they are. (you know, fighting games, the ones where two players battle each other in a plain space with characters with lots of cool moves….)
It was nifty, it was weird, it was fascinating, it was just plain cool. And when you look at it from a distance, it’s a whole fucking lot like science. It’s such a similar fucking vibe.
Using knowledge and experience gained in tens of thousands of matches in professional settings to create something concrete and reliable. A great way to help the community understand the potential in the characters created in the game. Something to pine over when going from casual to hardcore. And certainly, something to debate over and make jokes about relentlessly.
I think that’s why the tier list meme format has become popular. It lends itself to objection rather straightforwardly. Tier lists are like grand scientific theories that ache to be disagreed with.
It’s a spicy real fucking vibe, isn’t it?
And wherever there’s a spicy vibe, there is someone opposed to it. And on both sides, one perceives the other as the “Karen” of the situation. Someone being obnoxious for its own sake, confrontational for its own sake, being extravagant and conceited for its own sake.
You might not remember it if you’re young, but blatant objection to the very notion of “tier lists” was a very popular vibe over 10 years ago. Not believing in tiers, thinking tiers hurt games, seeing tiers as disrespectful of game developers, and being disgusted by the audacity of restricting and altering a game’s communal experience in such a way.
These opinions are still kind of prevalent. They should be, of course. To be critical of the way tier lists affect a game’s community, and their inherent imperfections as a guide for a game, even to the point of strong disgust, is the type of thing that helps keep humanity in check when trying to transcend its limitations.
But one thing I’ve noticed has faded away a bit. And I’m glad it has, actually. It reminds me of people finally conceding on the theory of evolution. And not getting bad fucking vibes from the theory of survival of the fittest anymore.
The thing I’ve seen fade away is the perception that tier lists mainly exist out of a fanboy-istic affection for “the good characters” in fighting games, and a bully-like disgust for “the bad characters” in fighting games.
The best evidence for this is YouTube videos about character tiers in something like Street Fighter that provide a balanced take upon characters of various tiers. They poke fun at the audacity of tier making, and at what tiers reveal about what’s really in a game.
They build up and lampoon characters of various tiers. They have a lot of fun with the pop-cultural essence of trying to make tiers at all. And they don’t discredit the ambitions of fighting game communities at all.
To me, this approach to tier lists remind me an actually fair and balanced approach to a scientific issue. And it gives me significant faith in humanity’s desire to sort things the hell out in this world, while sorting out that very desire to be the one sorting things out!
It’s almost like the way you “square” or “cube” a form of measurement, to measure a shape. Despite what you may think, despite of your rage, despite of your jokes about other human beings, the truth remains this, in the heart of any adult-
“I want to be the one who has the proper amount of control over people who think they have the proper amount of control over other people”.
My generation has been memeing about tiers for so long, that we are now capable of actually wrapping our heads around the nuances of both promoting and defying the tier lists in fighting games!
Is that not what makes our hearts feel full when watching a documentary about Bowser in Melee?
I could do a lot of complaining about what I see as bad vibes and a lack of emotional development in the scientific communities of psychology, environmentalism, and telecommunication.
But I would rather not denigrate. I would rather people acknowledge how severely- and how justifiably- most other people feel that they are the ones that can taste the nuances behind an issue!
I would like to reveal- I would like to explain- I would like to teach- how to understand and recognize how a person feels when they feel- overloaded by nuance!
I recently went to a library and read a book explaining calculus through comics. I didn’t quite understand it perfectly, but perhaps it can best be explained as this- calculus is something that gives you the ability to see how something changes on a deeper level than simply increasing or decreasing, moving in one direction or another, or having merely shifted around in many ways. It helps you go past your perceived limits of describing the ways things happen, which can be measured mathematically.
It’s in that moment I could of course sense the feelings happening in the hearts of people discovering such a field of math for the first time. One’s sensation of the universe within seeming to expand, of the perceiving mind appearing to brighten, of the purity of desire seeming to take its most fancy of shapes.
The emotions involved in bashing or mocking “tier lists” or adoring and admiring “tier lists” are really not so different. They are not even different from aspiring to have a balanced approach on the very matter.
On all three sides, there is a sense of having a “smart heart”. Of being not quite what people say you are. Of knowing what it means to be troublesome, inefficient, and chaotic, for all the right fucking reasons.
And most essentially, most incredibly, most vividly, the sensation inside a person hard to criticize, who fits the bill of whatever bitter insults you can possibly conjure,
What resides in the heart of the person who is getting called a “Karen”.
“I have literally just changed my own self to adapt to a difficult situation,
and yet you’re here mocking my personality?”
That’s all it is, isn’t it?
It’s like something out of calculus.
The explanation for why we erupt at each other.
The denigration of someone already willing to play hard at being a person.
The thing about games and hobbies is that they allow you to feel poorly about yourself and do something about it.
They help you feel like you’re invoking the strength you lacked just minutes or seconds ago.
Yes, that’s it isn’t it?
To shift, to adjust, to adapt, the will, to fight, to dream, and act, and carve those actions upon the everlasting flow of space and time, and see a condescending smirk,
that’s where the pain in your head comes that tells you that not acting upon your convictions would be something even worse than evil or cruelty.
So, what other solution is there, than to exercise that tendency to be offended to your core, along with how to to relieve it,
than on the surface of a game board,
and promise quietly
to only be so vicious
within the role
you’re playing in that game?
Well now, it’s time to shelve the verbose talk for another day.
As I continue to dream to be the one who actually makes it happen- who actually allows people to control their public and private behavior without anyone indulging the joy of sullying the freedom to dream.
Perhaps this is what my suggestion is-
to reiterate for all of you-
the purity and joy of heart when playing games
is almost equal to the purity and joy and heart when acting upon one’s convictions among other humans.
So then, find a game that satisfies in the same way, and use it to make the world a whole lot less complicated.
And create a relationship between the you that “plays hard at games” and “acts tough with people”.
If you need examples for that…I shall continue to deliver!
But for now, today’s lesson-
trying to make sense of others is not something to be ashamed of,
but it is also a boundless typhoon of human difficulty.
Find a place to unleash those storms, even if they feel like a rush flower petals with no inherent danger.
That is the solution to all of this awful adult behavior.
I promise, it’s the only thing we have yet to try, and must.
Finding a way to satisfy the need to strike deeply back at others, through knowing what makes games gratifying, even for the most adult of us.
If someone were to do that, actually fucking do that, would they be SSS tier?
Would it make scientists cry in awe at what they didn’t do?