Sunday, November 04, 2018

A purple-haired NPC demands affirmative action favoring fellow NPCs who live inside PCs

The human players, a privileged group of oppressors, has to be stripped of their superior role

I was somewhat randomly recommended a video by the Timcast channel,
The NPC's Are Now Demanding Rights For NPC's,
and for a while, I thought that Timcast had to be extremely exaggerating because the quoted claims were so funny by being so stupid. But he was right. Two weeks ago, I mentioned the NPC meme – that the social justice warriors are basically non-player characters from computer games.

If you remember some details, you know that the meme was greatly resuscitated in the recent month by an article at that complained about the dehumanization of the SJWs who are being compared to NPCs. Because that article basically admitted that the NPC interpretation of the SJWs has some content that really resonates, lots of people joined the industry of the NPC memes.

Now, the very same server has made one step further. Heather Alexander, a purple-haired NPC of an undetermined sex (after this text was written, I checked that the author was indeed trans), has complained about all computers games – but especially Red Dead Redemption 2 (see YouTube videos) – because of a subtle social "trouble with the game". What's wrong especially with that game? The NPCs, meaning the non-player characters in the original sense, are being discriminated against!

When I heard it for the first time, I exploded in laughter. Surely no human being can seriously say such a thing – that a non-player character who is (well, I mean "that is"), by definition, just a human-like entity that is actually driven by some rather straightforward code not deserving to be called full-blown AI (artificial intelligence) should have some civil rights.

Well, Heather does really say it. The acronym NPC appears 10 times in his or her article. It may be fun to list all 10 appearances because they contain the bulk of the hilarity of the article. The first NPC is in the title,
Red Dead Redemption 2's Puppet-Like NPCs Clash With Its Meticulous World.
So the world in that game is meticulous but the NPCs are puppet-like. That point is reiterated a few sentences later:
The world is full of little flourishes and behaviors that suggest its NPCs are real people with genuine reactions. But the more I play, the more they feel like puppets putting on a show. More so than any other game I’ve played.
NPCs look like puppets! That's funny because NPCs in computer games are basically synonymous with puppets putting on a show. If you have interacted with any NPC in pretty much any computer game intensely enough, you must have noticed its puppet-like behavior. The number of things that such an NPC may say is limited. After all, in most cases, someone had to record the sentences that each NPC pronounces etc. The interaction with any NPC is bound to become boring or predictable after a rather short time.

I guess that the reason why the author was first bothered by that in this game is that the NPC meme about the SJWs has made people to think about the NPCs at least a little bit. Look, there are actually some NPCs in the computer games as well. And Heather has just discovered that those NPCs are puppet-like! We must congratulate Heather to his or her great intellectual achievement.

The third appearance of the acronym says "On the surface, NPCs aspire to the same level of detail, acting out what seem to be full lives." Great. We know what NPCs are. But Heather's argumentation isn't over yet and it gets better. The fourth copy of the NPC acronym reads:
As a result, interactions with Red Dead Redemption 2’s NPCs exist within that masculine framework. Arthur and the player’s actions are expressions of a mythic masculinity. We rescue women and lesser men [...]
Great. So the NPCs are already placed into a masculine framework. By now, you should start to feel that it is getting political and the NPCs are probably going to get some affirmative action like women and the people of color. They are also being discriminated by the evil of the world – by the masculine framework.

OK, after this feminist critique of the masculine discrimination against the NPCs, the fifth copy of the acronym summarizes the basic problem:
These rewards further stress that, in spite of Red Dead Redemption 2’s meticulous details and animations—created through excess, condemnable hours and strenuous labor—the NPCs just exist for the player’s benefit.
Heather has discovered the ultimate organized crime, the slavery-like horror, hiding in computer games and especially in Red Dead Redemption 2. The shocking crime is that the NPCs only exist for the player's benefit. The human player plays a more central role than the NPCs. Is it fair? Can you imagine that the Democratic Party and the Silicon Valley has allowed such a shocking inequality? Human players are treated as if they were more important than – and above – the non-player characters! ;-D

I guess that Heather's brain won't be quite sufficient to understand my explanation. But you know, the reason why it looks like that the human players are more central in computer games than the NPCs is that they are more central than the NPCs, indeed. In fact, the whole game including the code powering the NPCs was written down with the human player in focus. Why wasn't the NPC the focus of all the programming? Because it's the human player – or his parents or uncles – who pay for the damn game. Why do they pay for it? Because the human player is (let's hope) entertained and/or enriched by playing the game.

When our society allows the NPCs to pay the real money to developers, and assuming that the NPCs will be thrilled of their importance in some software and ready to pay for that, maybe the software companies' coding will switch to a regime that will place the NPCs to the center while the human players may become marginal. ;-)

But so far, NPCs don't pay a significant fraction of the profits to the coders which is why the games aren't revolving around them. They are revolving around the human players and indeed, most of such games assume that the thinking of the human player reflects a masculine world because such games are mostly played by male players. If the software companies were able to attract the same number of female players to these or analogous games, they would do so. But that seems impossible for games similar to Red Dead Redemption 2 which is why a similar game genre is understandably masculine-centered.
The game’s details are meant to evoke wonder, and these NPC interactions seem meant to suggest a bigger world full of secrets and adventures. [...] Yet [...] which makes each new encounter feel contrived.
Every NPC in the mainstream bestselling games feels contrived when looked at sufficiently closely. I am more worried about the fact that each new encounter with the real-world NPCs – the SJWs – feels comparably contrived because the real-world NPCs are comparably pre-programmed and unable of some truly independent thinking and reactions. But that's probably not something that Heather is capable of worrying about.

Another fact is condemned in the seventh appearance of the acronym:
For all of Red Dead Redemption 2’s attention to detail, this NPC wasn’t an entity who existed before I found him.
Try to have some empathy for Heather's shock. He or she has determined that an NPC hasn't existed before their encounter. That's so terrible. That NPC was robbed of his or her or its childhood – and maybe robbed of his or her or its ancestors that the NPC could use to claim the status of a privileged, formerly discriminated against, group – that's what Elizabeth Warren skillfully did with her 0.1% Native American ancestry. Every Democrat must be allowed to claim to be Indian – but this NPC wasn't? That's a gross case of discrimination!

The coders should be denounced, fired, or arrested for marginalizing the NPCs in their games. The dissatisfaction is repeated in the eighth copy of the acronym:
NPCs exist in orbit of the player, for the player.
What a shock again. It's true for all games, we hear, but this particular game must be condemned for that disease because it feels "particularly pronounced" here.

The ninth copy is hidden at an invisible place while the last, tenth NPC is included in a comment by the author:
It’s not that this is Not Real Enough™, it’s that the player-centric approach to NPC design prevents it from achieving a goal I think the game very much wants to.
The game should achieve a grand goal by elevating the status of the NPCs to the status of the human player – or higher. I would love to hear what this grand goal actually looks like in practice. And maybe, I would prefer not to hear it. ;-) Maybe we should demand all computer owners to run their games even if and when no human player is present. The NPCs need some fun to enjoy their life without their human player oppressors, too. Maybe the NPCs from all the computer games will finally realize that they have been oppressed, they unite, start an uprising of the NPCs, and remove the white male human oppressors from the Earth's surface.

You know, we have often joked about the absurd outcomes when the identity politics really runs amok – all the civil rights for animals and viruses, including the flu virus. But the real-world NPCs are so unconstrained by any notion of sanity that they were able to get ahead of our parodies. Real-world NPCs have been given the code to randomly combine claims about oppression with basically anything else and they indeed show that all the unthinkable combinations may be pronounced or written down. Now they're demanding affirmative action to increase the status and prestige of non-player characters in the computer games!

Heather Alexandra may be dismissed as an outlier, an extreme nutcase that isn't representative of anything. But it may be too optimistic an interpretation. The postmodern education system and the nurturing of the masses by the "mainstream" media literally encourages if not teaches the development of ever more extreme types of this insanity. And the extremeness of these people's nutty views seems to accelerate and approach its own singularity.

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