By Alex Kierkegaard / November 17, 2014
Great, genuine and extraordinary work can be done only in so far as its author disregards the method, the thoughts, the opinions of his contemporaries, and quietly works on, in spite of their criticism, on his side despising what they praise. No one becomes great without arrogance of this sort.
Arthur Schopenahuer, On Genius
Recent Cult inductee pinny removed me from his friend list and quit our Steam group because of what I said about him in the Crimzon Clover thread that his game reviews, and therefore his tastes in games, are "more or less equal garbage" [ > ], so I just sent him this email, and thought it worth sharing with the rest of my Steam group and Insomnia's readers:
"You should try not taking my criticism of your views on games so personally. I believe that almost EVERYONE'S opinions on games are garbage, not just yours. Qpo's too, and Masahiro's, and most of the guys' I play games with (not to mention everyone else's on the planet aside from at most a couple dozen people's). And hey, they seem to agree with me, for the most part, which is why they are reading my site instead of the other way around. You have to understand that I am in a difficult position here. On the one hand, I want to play games with other people, so in that respect I am like every other player (or at least like the smartest of them, because most people, as I have recently to my amazement discovered, do not in fact want to play with other people). But at the same time I am a games critic, and it is my job to shout my views on games from the rooftops. But where do you think my views on games come from? They come from my actual playing time, including my playing time with other people. So it is ultimately impossible to avoid saying things in my commentaries that disparage, to one extent or another, the tastes of the people I am playing with. I am sure that CTF doesn't particularly enjoy my repeated jabs against his Final Fantasy-playing, for example, but thankfully he hasn't taken them so personally so far as to remove me from his friend list and quit our group, as you did. Ultimately the people who are in my group and who play games with me will have to give me some leeway and turn a blind eye now and then when I use them as examples of bad tastes and bad playing habits in my forum posts and in my essays. As I have already explained to you, I HAVE nowhere else to take my examples from than from my actual playing experiences, and if you are in my circle of friends, this will also include you. Is that too much of a nuisance to tolerate in order to be able to play with the coolest and most refined group of gamers in the world? If it is, fair enough, if not, readd me on Steam and I'll send you a new invite to the group. You haven't even managed to play with us yet, and your behavior seems full of bad habits that it would be a good idea for you to overcome. From my limited exposure to you, it seems to me you don't value co-op play at all (because you didn't want to buy the game that we were all going to play, and couldn't be bothered to try fixing your mic in order to play with us), which probably means that you haven't tried it at all.
Whatever you decide to do, I am telling you that there are no negative feelings at all on my side. I am going to go post this in the forum now, to preempt similar behavior from others that I am sure I'll have to face eventually."
But instead of posting it in the forum, I spun it into an essay, because it is an issue that deserves to be addressed at length. It also ties directly into my upcoming Acquiring Taste essay, which I need to get around to writing at some point. It will answer the question of why everyone's tastes are garbage, and how taste actually works. Granted, 50% of it is because you are less intelligent and less capable than me, but the other 50% is quite simply because you haven't spent as much time and as much effort playing games as I have. So forget about the "intelligence" and "capability" argument for a while. Let's just say I just made it up to feel superior to you, and that it doesn't exist. In that case the only reason your tastes suck compared to mine is because you haven't played as many games as I have and/or for as much time. That's all it means when I say "your tastes suck". Now is that something to feel ashamed of? Of course not! My tastes too "sucked", in a manner of speaking, when I picked up my first shooting game, compared to now — there's no shame in there at all. So why do you take it personally when I say — when I am FORCED to say — from time to time in my articles and forum posts that your tastes in games are inferior to mine? Why else would you be coming to my site after all, if this weren't the case? Intelligence and capacity aside, there is a HUGE learning component to taste, which is why my essay will be titled "Acquiring Taste", precisely to underscore the fact that taste is something that, to a very great extent, can be acquired.
It cannot be COMPLETELY acquired, of course, otherwise we'd be teaching cats to love Beethoven, but in my estimation the vast majority of you are NOWHERE NEAR the point where your innate capacity to improve your taste has been maxed out. You have to play a SHITLOAD more games for a SHITLOAD more time to get there, and that's precisely what this site is all about: to tell you what these games are and to explain to you the why.
Play games with me if you want, or don't. Either way, I am on a mission here, and I am not willing to jeopardize it in order to protect anyone's fragile feelings. Thanks for playing games with me, and for taking the time to read this.