On Saturday, May 21st, Brian Ambrozy (@primesuspect) of Icrontic was asked to go on Fox & Friends to debate Neal Asbury (@NealAsbury) on the merits of video games as a form of art, and defended public funding by the National Endowment of Arts for independent, non-profit video game studios. The “discussion” was everything typical of a Fox News debate. The host attempted to skew the debate from the beginning by running b-roll of violent commercial video games, used predetermined buzz words to immediately frame the debate in a negative way, and presented an opposing view point from a loud-mouth third-string puppet with no real expertise on the subject. Neal Asbury’s responses looked like they were prerecorded, as he didn’t even address the host’s questions, nor did he acknowledge anything that was said by Brian, who clearly cemented his position as an expert from the very start.
Right out of the gate, Brian squashed the host’s rhetoric by pointing out that the examples he used, Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto, are commercial games that would never be eligible for a federal grant. He tried to push the debate in the right direction by saying that video games are a valid form of art, and should be considered for federal grants just like any other form of art. However, instead of addressing that point, Neal Asbury struck back with a very contrived ping pong analogy, and tried to veer the conversation into a debate about wasteful government spending, arguing that government spending is leading to a lot of “pain and suffering” among people who are hit the hardest in this economy.
Brian fired back by reminding Neal that video gaming is one of the strongest industries in our economy, and that any financial help we can give to the gaming industry is going to help inspire video game developers, create more jobs, and increase exports. To which Neal responded by ignoring Brian’s point, and continuing to derail the conversation.
There is something fundamentally wrong about Neal Asbury’s final response. In his last retort, he claims that President Obama wants to raise taxes in order to pay for video games. This goes further than distorting the truth, this is a complete, unmitigated fabrication. The NEA has a certain budget which they use to give grants to artists for artistic and educational purposes. By recognizing video games as an art form, they’re allowed to give grants to video game developers from within that budget. Even if President Obama were trying to raise our taxes, and suggested that we increase the NEA’s budget, that would be a blanket increase in funds to be used for all forms of art, which would lead to a discussion about whether or not we should fund the arts at all. What should have been a discussion about recognizing the merits of video game development as an art, turned into a soapbox for Fox News to trumpet their distaste with this president, and falsely attack him for something he never even suggested.
I may be biased. I don’t consider Fox News to be a viable media outlet (nor does Fox News, for that matter) and I consider Brian a close friend. However, this short, excruciatingly painful-to-watch clip is just a microcosm of what Fox News is as a whole. They don’t even attempt to hide their true intentions anymore, which is to be a mouthpiece for far-right conservative propaganda. Anyone who has even dabbled in high school forensics knows that this is a poor excuse for a debate, and that neither the host or the opposing viewpoint should be taken seriously as components of a qualified debate.
But this is not television for people who believe in the fair exchange of ideas and discussion. This is demagoguery under a “fair and balanced” cloaking device. The audience is not made up of informed people that understand how serious debate works, it is comprised of intellectually lazy ignoramuses who want their “news” spoon-fed to them in the form of buzz words and flashy video, presented by cosmetically enhanced women.
But, I digress. What’s important here is that Brian Ambrozy has already transcended the Fox News mode of operations, and is using this as an opportunity to bring awareness about video games as a form of art. Not only am I proud of him for plowing through the Fox News spin gauntlet, I am absolutely amazed at his poise and humility, and in understanding that he was given a rare opportunity to step in a pile of shit and come out smelling like roses.
My cousin, who is in her senior year of high school, recently told me that she has aspirations of becoming a video game designer. There are many components that go into the creation of a video game, which puts Detroit in a unique position to emerge as a new leader in gaming innovation. Whether it is a digital artist, who likes to create unique characters and dynamic visual effects, a musician who wants to create musical scores for video games, voice-over artists that want to breath life into those characters, or the geeks that put it all together, Detroit has a lot of talent that could be used in the video game industry. Let’s spread the word that video games are art, and that by supporting video games, you are supporting art, and boosting America’s future.