We are inside of it. It’s passing quickly but we are still here. As the great dissolve of E3 news washes over our faces, slips through our fingers, and falls into the drain, I want to inhale the moment with you and venerate the feeling of clean joy inside. This is what it feels like to be present in a single moment of culture; that fleeting energy is our intersection with its exhilarating movement.
Culture is a massively broad word. Add the adjective “nerd” in front of it and now we’re seeing double. Murky language beckons for clarification, and to that end I want to celebrate E3 as a truly positive symbol of our shared experience on this earth. What makes exploring culture so rewarding is its deep ties into our humanity. The fact that videogames are the yellow brick road on which we wandered into its domain is equally astonishing. So walk with me.
First off, it blows my mind that culture is at its most foundational root, a behavioral echo from an initial reaction to our senses. The world is encoded through our faculties, and our brains blast us with dopamine when we perceive a new pattern of sensory information. That squirt of chemical bliss strengthens the particular chain reaction our neurons fired in response.
Our system of memory is fulfilled when our train of thought falls into the neural grooves carved out by that original sensation whenever the same arrangement of sensual information is presented again.
What gets even crazier is this link between signifiers from the objective world and the meaning our brain attaches to them is how our very consciousness interlinks itself with reality. Those collections of sights, sounds, smells, textures, and tastes get filed away as a single sign, and whenever that symbol is presented again, the same path of neurons recall that original state of mind.
This witchcraft is what makes it possible for hundreds of thousands of people to see the logo of a videogame, hear a theme song, or read the name of a developer and instantly be in a shared state of being, as mutual memories come flooding back into our brains. Just look at the power the image of the triforce has in conjuring a communal reception in the world’s population.
Culture dances on the border of group and individual experience as an almost frustrating composite between the two. It is an irreversible, ongoing phenomenon that results from communication between parties. Since the flow of sensory information into our minds never stops, we cannot unlearn what we are surrounded by and exposed to.
The engine that propels the change of culture runs on the constant recalibration of our experiences as we encode new information during interactions with each other. The sheer volume of transmissions sent and received amidst the terabytes of data beamed across the world at the speed of photons during the week of E3 leaves me stricken with awe. It’s a staggering rate of change sent forth from a tiny epicenter of time.
The shockwave reverberates outward as a flurry of podcasts, articles, and exchanges of opinion, as well as the sharing of business cards, game demos, and portfolios on the showroom floor. These are the norms and practices we have inherited by those who came before, and we pass them along to new individuals every year that E3 continues. This collection of actions is how we move the world.
There’s almost a ritualistic solidarity when participating in these customs congruent to the unity people feel in a church pew as they contemplate that thousands of people are experiencing the same exact thing in the same instant of time. It’s an exercise of our autonomy when we elect to engage in this social ceremony.
This component of freedom is what keeps me heartened when I consider the choice to dedicate my life to videogames while the cruelties of the world persist.
At their core, games are toys. They are a luxury which exist only in an environment of leisure. Their universal appeal comes through humanity’s capacity for play and make-believe alongside the intrinsic joys of aesthetic experience. Our dedication to their pursuit in profession and recreation is validated by our minds’ fulfillment and the bonding power of their specific culture.
To that end, I truly believe the world will be more content once the light of videogames has the freedom to spread into every corner of the globe uninhibited. Videogames are an astonishing product of the human experience produced by a staggering expanse of people, a pure endeavor of the mind in reception and execution, and a medium which disperses play.
So now we stand at the shores of ordinary life waiting for the tides of responsibility to consume us again. Nevertheless, we are filled with a sense of renewal from this massive week of cultural exchange: the acute wonderment in our hearts, the aftermath of the staggering diversity of genres, scope, art directions, and budgets the industry offers. Take pride in the bonding power invoked by the phrase “E3”, the latent conversations started over familiar tee shirts, and the relaxation of hearing your friends react on a podcast. Yes, even the memes. This is our culture.
Edited by Malia Hamilton
Originally published on OK Beast