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Are the haters of Bientôt l'été right?

Are the haters of Bientôt l'été right?
« on: February 13, 2013, 11:23:25 am »

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I strongly believe in video games as art, and I see this game as a slap in the face to everything games in art can be.
Gone on MLP Forums

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I think this game is a bit too up it’s own arse with the whole ‘games are art!’ thing. It’s far too abstract for it’s own good.
DanTheGamer32 on Giant Bomb

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You’re not an artist.
You’re a disgrace to the very concept of art.
Nocturne on Steam forums

These are some of the comments that we are seeing on internet forums on Bientôt l'été. Most of these tend to be based on the Steam store page for the game.

It's easy to make fun of these reactions. Since there are many players who deeply enjoy the game, these "opinions" are irrelevant given that Bientôt l'été was not exactly fine-tuned for mass appeal.

But I find a nagging grain of truth in the general sentiment.

Bientôt l'été is if not the only then at least the most modernist game we have made with Tale of Tales. I tend to dislike the modernist approach to art but I make exceptions for some artists. One of those is Marguerite Duras, who inspired the game. Following her thoroughly modernist attitude, Bientôt l'été ends up as a modernist game.

We're hardly the first modernist artists in the world. But so far videogames have been blissfully spared from the onslaught that modernism has caused in other art forms. This is one of the reasons why I find videogames so attractive as an artist. I dislike modernism and videogames thoroughly tend towards pre-modern aesthetics and methods that I have great sympathy for.

I hope we have not damaged the innocence of videogames too much with Bientôt l'été. I'm happy to have made it and proud of the result but, at least for a while, do not wish to enter a similar modernist creation process.
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Re: Are the haters of Bientôt l'été right?
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2013, 01:10:53 pm »

I have looked at the links you provided, albeit shortly (because life is too short). The first link mentions LIMBO as an 'games as art done right', which says enough.

I think you should not let these people get to you. Yes, you have made a modernist work which surprised me as well. I dislike modernism and I find Duras difficult - but I can see the value of the work and, what is more, so do others who greatly enjoy it.

In recent writings you increasingly seem to be wish to pander to mass appeal. This would be fine if this mass would be some clearly educated group. Instead, they write with a 'in crowd', jokey, self-complacent, entitled tone. They care nothing about art or its future and they care nothing about you. They see something which is 'wrong' and like a Dalek they wish to exterminate Bientôt l'été from the Steam store. I cannot say whether you ought or ought not to make more modernist works - but certainly you should not take nitwit's comments as-if they offer some insight.

I hope you will keep making good work for a brighter future, Michaël, and not be tempted to go lie in the same gutter as most of the other game developers; because 'in the gutter is where the audience is.' We live in an age where intellectualism is extinguishing itself by not wish to be too bright.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 01:13:27 pm by Jeroen D. Stout »
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Re: Are the haters of Bientôt l'été right?
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2013, 03:33:14 pm »

I do not choose these haters as my new audience. I just want to be "nicer" in my future work, friendlier, less probing. I consider my audience, as always, to be the silent people. I just know that there's many more of them than I am currently reaching. So I will do my best to please more of them. Them, the silent people, not the loud haters.

That does mean, possibly to your regret, Jeroen, that I'm moving away from explicit elitism. I don't think there's anything wrong with elitism as such. And as a consumer I will firmly remain nestled in the intellectual elite. But as a creator I feel confronted with moral concerns: I think our civilization is in a dire state and I'm afraid the intellectual way of dealing with that will be too slow to do have any real impact -before all is lost, I mean (like humans as a species, e.g.).

I could of course be wrong about everything.
But even then, it's a creative challenge. So, why not? Smiley
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Re: Are the haters of Bientôt l'été right?
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2013, 05:53:54 pm »

I just wonder what this non-explicit elitism will be. I greatly worry about intellectuals feeling they have to stoop down lest they not be understood. It might be a difficult time for intellectual pursuits but it is not made any easier with intellectuals themselves losing their standards.

Of course, I do not believe humanity as a species is doomed; or if it is, it is not something I am directly capable of halting. For me the present time in terms of intellectual is more like surviving in a bunker until the radioactive winter passes. For me it is better to hold precious what we have and can make than to venturing outside.

Possibly your non-elitism is not my non-elitism, however, and I do wonder what your intent is. If you start wrapping 'seeds of intellectualism' in endless jumping, shooting and what-not and making everything bite-size and easy to follow - then I cannot but despair for the little corner of games we have created so far.
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Re: Are the haters of Bientôt l'été right?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2013, 12:34:05 pm »

Modernity alone may not be at the root of this indignation as much as Bientôt l'été's unusual and genuine commitment to it. That is what makes it unparalleled in a field where superficial glimpses at Modernity have even generated award-winning bestsellers. Paradoxically, I believe that these "haters" you speak of have a more accurate perception of Bientôt l'été's unique qualities than those who, for a variety of non-confrontational and politically correct reasons I'm sure, are only too willing to praise it without the slightest indication of a motive. As such, we may establish that they're of importance - right or wrong seems beside the point here.

Hatred is but a confirmation that the conservative and overly protectionist audience it has reached of late promptly recognized those attributes which, they believe, pose a threat to the treasured establishment as it exists. Those who made an anathema out of Bientôt would do well to remember that this willful appropriation of game technology doesn't necessarily make an endangered species out of their favorite pastime. But on the other hand I cannot discard their impetuosity altogether - however inflexible and callous these manifestations - as I have long claimed that Steam is not a suitable milieu for this creation. Unless you want it to be.

It would be wise to take some time to ponder what can inferred from the extremism behind the insults and death wishes. No single factor could account for it, though I would underline once more how the very mention of high art, as well as foreign culture and language, seems to trigger that mechanism of prejudice in a culturally impoverished North-American (or for that effect Americanized) society even quicker than the mention of that known taboo that is the word "notgame". A cultural clash is taking place here, undeniably. And perhaps the presence of Bientôt l'été on Steam suits more than a purely commercial purpose, it working as a formidable agent provocateur of sorts, creating dissonance at the very heart of a problem we've debated here only too often.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 12:39:25 pm by Bruno de Figueiredo »
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Re: Are the haters of Bientôt l'été right?
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2013, 09:27:40 pm »

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I dislike modernism

You mean you do not like the works of Francis Bacon, John Cage, Bunuel, Picasso, Greenaway, Robert Wilson, Meredith Monk,
Goddard, Oskar Fischinger, Strawinski, Duchamp etc...? I am not that deep into art theory. I like 20ths century art more than
the art from the 19th century (for example).

On the other hand I know what you mean. I was recently in Amsterdam. The new museum for modern art opened (the bathtub).
I could not bring myself to pay 17€ for modern, exhibited art. I took a glance at the catalog and it was quite
boring.

I would not put all contempory artists in one corner. Also, I still do not know what modernism is supposed to mean.

Stalin and Hitler were "great" connoisseurs de l'art. They knew exactly what was good art and what was bad art and acted
accordingly.

I would not want to put myself in those shoes.

cheerio,

p.s. sorry for side-tracking the discussion


« Last Edit: February 14, 2013, 09:34:28 pm by György Dudas »
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Re: Are the haters of Bientôt l'été right?
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2013, 10:02:05 am »

I greatly worry about intellectuals feeling they have to stoop down lest they not be understood.

Don't worry on my behalf. There is nothing to understand. I just want people to feel the joy of beauty.

If you start wrapping 'seeds of intellectualism' in endless jumping, shooting and what-not and making everything bite-size and easy to follow - then I cannot but despair for the little corner of games we have created so far.

Haha. I'm not about to give up the experience I gathered over the past decade! Be assured: I have no intention whatsoever to create -as some have done quite successfully- conventional games and tack some philosophical or poetic twist to them. If only because I don't consider conventional games to be sufficiently accessible (to the audience I prefer).
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Re: Are the haters of Bientôt l'été right?
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2013, 10:13:06 am »

Paradoxically, I believe that these "haters" you speak of have a more accurate perception of Bientôt l'été's unique qualities than those who, for a variety of non-confrontational and politically correct reasons I'm sure, are only too willing to praise it without the slightest indication of a motive.

True. But I'm not sure if I want to be this modernist provocateur. Provocations can lead to change, but I don't care enough about "the games industry" to want to change it. My artistic goals are beyond the scope of videogames. Videogames are just a means.


the very mention of high art, as well as foreign culture and language, seems to trigger that mechanism of prejudice in a culturally impoverished North-American (or for that effect Americanized) society

That is very true.
Most of the time, this is expressed in a way that is intended to be humorous.
But it is really just sad. Very sad.

It's as if people have forgotten how much joy art, culture and languages can bring. It's like they have collectively performed intellectual cliterectomy on themselves. They reject passion and pleasure in favor of dull, conventional jokes. Reminds me of how the Americans hug instead of kiss to greet. (Is all of this an expression of fear? Are we that afraid of each other?)
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Re: Are the haters of Bientôt l'été right?
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2013, 10:25:07 am »

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I dislike modernism

You mean you do not like the works of Francis Bacon, John Cage, Bunuel, Picasso, Greenaway, Robert Wilson, Meredith Monk,
Goddard, Oskar Fischinger, Strawinski, Duchamp etc...?

That is what I mean, indeed.  Smiley

Well, with the exception of Greenaway, Godard, Strawinski and the Duchamp of the Large Glass (as opposed to the Duchamp of the readymades).

But I tend to get greater pleasure out of older art. Bosch, Van Eyck, Botticelli, Rubens, Bernini, Bach, Monteverdi, Pergolesi and even Bougueraux, Gérôme, David, Moreau, and Wagner.

I feel that modernism has been a very welcome phase of rejection and criticism. And most art forms came out of it rejuvenated and better than ever (literature, film, theater, dance, popular music). Only fine art and most classical music seems to have been stuck in modernism for a century. And that's pathetic.
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Re: Are the haters of Bientôt l'été right?
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2013, 01:10:00 pm »

Provocations can lead to change, but I don't care enough about "the games industry" to want to change it. My artistic goals are beyond the scope of videogames. Videogames are just a means.

You're already a part of it. Deliberately or not. But it's comforting to hear that your pursuit lies further than this; that video games are simply the desert that needs to be crossed for you to reach your destination. All sorts of positive reactions came from this hatred so, right or wrong, I think we can agree upon the fact that it was rather purposeful.
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Re: Are the haters of Bientôt l'été right?
« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2013, 12:26:17 pm »

Thank you for helping me see the positive effects of this, Bruno.
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Re: Are the haters of Bientôt l'été right?
« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2013, 01:52:34 pm »

It is most most admirable when the person being slapped in the cheek, so to speak, can nevertheless see the offender as a human being; and his aggression as an act with meaning. How very truly Christian of you, Michaël.

Bientôt l'été is, or is easily mistakable within certain spheres as an exclusive experience - as opposed to inclusive. Player's hard-earned skills, their instincts, their conceptions of difficulty and learning curve are of no use in this game which they cannot tolerate, not because they're less perceptive than their fellow man who sees value in such an experience; but because they have been conditioned to respond aggressively when something comes along that appeals to certain - may I say pitifully underdeveloped - sensibilities. Not to mention, as I did before, that this is an object which radiates a very powerful and distinctive feminine aura.

Like a Pavlov canine - and this analogy is not to be taken lightly, much less as an insult, I underline - they bark back fiercely whenever they sense a threat that this soft spot may be exposed; it revealing the weaknesses of their sentimental education, as it clashes no doubt with the outer fences of their own identity, especially with the average male adult; it also being falsely perceived as a strength.

We must consider all these factors before dismissing these voices as irrational and hollow. Because we know they're not, only symptomatic of a prevailing sociocultural and psychological condition.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 12:50:22 pm by Bruno de Figueiredo »
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Re: Are the haters of Bientôt l'été right?
« Reply #12 on: February 20, 2013, 09:20:43 am »

We must consider all these factors before dismissing these voices as irrational and hollow. Because we know they're not, only symptomatic of a prevailing sociocultural and psychological condition.

True. And it's exactly that which I want to influence with my art. And why I desire to make art in the future that is easier to understand. Because things like Bientôt l'été just act like a red flag on a bull to these people. While ultimately the social/political goal of my art is make people gentler, kinder and more loving.
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Re: Are the haters of Bientôt l'été right?
« Reply #13 on: February 20, 2013, 01:32:48 pm »

One thing I have been thinking about, and that might contribute to these kind of comments, is that games lack an "artsy" middle ground. Either you have these games that lack all intention of being art, or you have games like Bientôt l'été that are very "artsy" and meant for a narrow audience. This is true of just about any major artistic game recently released: Dear Esther, Proteus, Kentucky Road Zero, etc. It is sort of like you would only have Bruckheimer and Von Trier films to choose from. This makes the market very polarized and adds to the hostile atmosphere. It might have led to the belief in many that it is only possible to make in any of these extremes.

It is also interesting to theorize why this division has occurred. Could it point at some inherent property of the medium itself, that expression is hard unless in abstract form. The only thing close to a middle ground that I can think of are Heavy Rain and Walking Dead, which both have to give up a lot of the basic features of the game medium (both being more passive than active). Also the subject matters, while there are a bit of nice bits, are not really comparable to middle ground seen in other media.
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Re: Are the haters of Bientôt l'été right?
« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2013, 01:36:42 pm »

And why I desire to make art in the future that is easier to understand.

I believe that you can certainly do easier than Bientôt l'été. Although I can't quite imagine you ever doing easy. And even easy, curiously enough, offers no assurance that controversy can be sidestepped these days, bearing the example of Proteus in mind: the single most innocuous, straightforward, tenderhearted videogame-like game in recent memory, and yet it is still employed as a target for the occasional tirade.
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