As promised, now that I have finished reading Ready Player One I can take a more in depth look at the book. My first impressions is that it was very neat. The prose were clean, the loose ends were tied up and the ending was exactly what I was expecting, yet what it needed to be.
I want to bring up the issue of ethics in art. How much responsibility do we have as artists to draw attention to issues or, at the very least, be aware? Art ethics have been on my mind since my friend found a independent video game about diamond traders operating in Angola in the year 2000. It’s a two person turn-based strategy game in which players are attempting to sell the last of their blood diamonds before the market caves.
For those of you who don’t know about the conflict in Sierra Leone, check out this article. To quickly recap, rebels and the government fought in a civil war. The rebels panned for diamonds in rivers and sold them to De Beers of London to fund their campaign. These diamonds were labeled Blood Diamonds, or Conflict Diamonds. Since then, the UN has pulled together to prevent conflict diamonds from entering main stream markets. The Kimberly Process is how the market is regulated. I’ll let you read that on your own.
So, the issue we’ve talked about is why make a game about conflict diamonds, especially from the point of view of a trader? One answer could be to bring awareness to the fact that this happened. However, the Kimberly Process was put in place because people become aware and did not want to support conflict. My friend and I are still trying to wrap our heads around why one would create such a game. Does the creator know that there’s social stigma surrounding blood diamonds? I’d have to say, yes. How could he not, especially after developing the game? Then again, is it really an issue? Where does his responsibility lay if he has any? I’m still wrestling with it.
Another member of my discussion had this to say:
As far as artist responsibility goes, I think that they have no responsibility to be sensitive about cultural issues, however they do have the responsibility to understand the significance of what they’re doing an who they’re giving their art to. Thus, if an artist was to make something controversial or downright immoral, they should expect the backlash in full force. Sometimes things like that can actually be good if the culture rejects it (just compare some games that were made at the beginning of the game console days to what we see now.)
Of course, a good artist should be both accurate in their information as well as significant in what they produce. That’s a responsibility that few take seriously though.
As an artist, I’d like to create pieces that contribute to society or draw attention to something that needs to be changed. I worry that this video game, Diamond Trust of London, will trivialize something that is serious. Or rather, normalize a wrong. However, no one has played through the entirety of the game yet. There may be some self awareness planted somewhere later in the game. I don’t know.
I want to know what others think about this issue. At what point should an artist be aware or feel responsible?
I’ve decided to plan more creative time into my schedule to work on a new writing project. The only problem is that I have no idea what to write. Even though I’ve gotten back in the reading groove, I’m lacking inspiration. I’m wondering what other writers do to brainstorm new ideas. Once I have an idea, I can usually develop it.
There are countless blogs and wiki pages on “10 tips for brainstorming” but I need a real spark. So I’m calling out to other writers to see what has worked for you. If you have tips or sure-fire strategies that have worked for you, leave a comment.
What I really need is a dream. A lot of my story ideas are based on crazy wonderful dreams I’ve had. Guess I need to get going on that. Maybe this post compiled of random thoughts will help…maybe. Doubtful. Hmmm….there are also photos. Looking at art can sometimes inspire me. Music is always good.
Anyhow, I’ll keep working on brainstorming. I’ll have to start writing without direction and see where it goes.
I just started reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and so far I’m hooked! I think any gamer or geek who reads this will agree with me when I say that right now, I’m still reeling over the many references to some of my favorite things. In fact, I just want to jump into the OASIS and start playing.
I was reminded today of something very important. It’s something that I struggle with on a daily basis is pretty much every area of my life. The best way to sum it up is from the lips of Bill Cosby. He said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” I take advice from everyone and inadvertently place the opinion of others at a high priority. As an artist of any kind, this is dangerous. We need thick skin because there are an endless number of critics out there. Those who say we can’t write worth a damn. Those who tell use we’re no good. Don’t listen to them. Listen to your calling. I think I’m supposed to write. I have to do it.
I don’t have some profound conclusion to draw or an articulate way to sum up the way this is has been on my mind all day. I guess at the end, we have to press on. Whatever path we take, if we know it’s the right one, we need to continue. There are people that will support us in the right way. They are the ones who give constructive criticism out of love, not destructive words from a place of hate.
So artists, creators, lovers and friends, keep doing your thing. Don’t please everyone. You can’t. And that’s OK.
It’s been a while since I posted last. That’s mostly due to the fact that I began a new job. I’m torn about it. I went to school in the arts because I didn’t want to work in an office and I wanted to be creative. Now I’m working in marketing. I write for my paycheck, which is wonderful, but I feel so far from my creative self. I think it’s time to start another book. I don’t have ideas right now, but I’m itching to be creative. It’s this need.
I also feel a bit like a sell out, but I’m trying to stay optimistic. This job forces me to write everyday, which builds discipline. I keep trying to see it as the first step toward my mountain. I am referencing Neil Gaiman here. So here I go, trudging on toward the dream of being a fiction/fantasy writer.