Pennies and poker.

Some traffic on fort-awesome has led me to Penny Arcade, at which I discover a post on rating systems for video games which I think Wax should see. The comic version is here.
I feel compelled to talk about words, though, instead of video games, since I’m a lot more familiar with the former than the latter. I think it was the made-up word “killographic” which caught my eye. The CNN article says:

“If pornographic is the ‘graphic depiction of sex,’ then killographic should enter our vocabulary to describe the ‘graphic depiction of brutal violence,”‘ David Walsh, the [National Institute on Media and the Family]’s president, told a Capitol Hill news conference.

It just seems like a superfluous and immensely stupid term, but I suppose there’s a part of me that thinks of “pornography” in a broader and more figurative sense than just sex. I even had to dict the word to make sure it was actually a term exclusive to “creative activity (writing or pictures or films etc.) of no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire.” If you replace “sexual desire” with “base appetites” or something like that, I think you get my definition. It just leads me to believe that the people who are saying these sorts of things don’t think very creatively. “Killography” is a sound-byte (sound-bite?) word, designed to do exactly what it did to me: grab people’s attention. It doesn’t carry a lot of meaning.
And on the CNN front: Mar, I’m begging you to use their awful composite image in your next CNN Sux. Take a look at the filename on this. Incredible.
To go back to the origin of this post, the folks at Penny Arcade seem to have a good point about the rating system: if the categories for video games are effectively identical to the MPAA’s movie rating system, why not just use the MPAA’s, so that parents don’t feel like they’re floundering in an unfamiliar system? There’s something to be said for comfort in these sorts of situations. This is all assuming, of course, that rating systems are the way to go, and honestly, I haven’t been following this stuff at all. Not since high school.
Speaking of games and media, my roommates are watching the World Poker Tour Ladies’ Night, which is apparently the first televised all-female poker tournament. We’re talking historic here, people.
One of the players, Annie Duke, was pursuing a PhD in psycholingustics at Penn before she became a professional poker player. There’s something totally awesome about that. Maybe the Course 9er in me still has a soft spot for 9.59J. Or maybe I admire the sheer balls it must take to go from academia to professional gambling. I suppose these are women who love risk.
Why do I spend so much time blogging? There are books to be read. And sleep to be had.

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4 thoughts on “Pennies and poker.

  1. I looked at your recent reads and just happened to notice Tortilla Flat. I lived in Monterey for a year (and now am living about two blocks away from the city) and still have not read it. However, I have read Cannery Row, so that’s my redeeming feature. Steinbeck’s style is so simplistic yet poetic. The Pearl was one of my favorite books ever.

  2. The ratings system for games is pretty goofy – mainly because ratings systems strike me as goofy overall. It’s not as if the ratings on motion pictures are particularly meaningful, after all. South Park is R-rated, but so is Something’s Gotta Give? What the hell? Do those two films have anything in common other than their rating?
    The coarseness of the ratings is what renders them useless. I have no objection to labeling texts accurately and precisely, but one without the other is a waste of energy. Your point about ‘killographic’ stands, though. I think of ‘pornographic’ roughly the same way you do, I think: context-free, nuance-free, meaningless representation of something, with the intent to merely excite ‘base instincts’. Armageddon is porn, by that definition; so is Grand Theft Auto III, for sure.
    But Straw Dogs is not, and ironically, neither is Reservoir Dogs (though I think Tarantino may well experience the latter as little more than a stroke-flick)…

  3. It’s interesting how much in the world comes down to categorization. I’ve had this on the brain lately, since I spent most of last week discussing categories — how to match prefrosh with CPW hosts, what information we want about prospective students so we can push personalized content to them via a portal, how to categorize content on the server side — and, granted, I read a book on this for my class last spring, but it’s one of those things that you rarely think about but which is constantly shaping your world. On a fundamental, perception itself is categorization: your brain decides what’s worth paying attention to and what’s not, and then the senses take over categorization from there, followed by language and movement… Anyway. Just mind-boggling to think about.

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