Losing The Game

This is the most hilarious juxtaposition ever.

It’s not Kaicho wa Maid-sama and The Game that I find funny, mind you. It’s anime otaku and The Game.

In a sense, this would seem to be a perfect match: take clueless, dateless, raging nerds, and inculcate them with the techniques passed down by the dating equivalent of kung-fu masters. Surely that should bring about a change in their lives! Yes; let’s train sex-starved, antisocial men in a series of techniques that teach them to manipulate and objectify the other sex, then turn them loose on the dating scene.

What could possibly go wrong?

Perhaps, if we were to be less cavalier about other peoples’ lives, we might reserve the deepest skepticism for any philosophy that treats abnormal people as suffering from some kind of disease, and views their normalization as an inherently obvious improvement. Perhaps if we had true humility, we wouldn’t automatically assume that our own paths in life are the gold standard of success. But no matter. In this particular case, certainly there are many otaku who seek the company of other girls or guys. This has, unfortunately, resulted in fixation on only this issue. When I look at the attempts to “improve upon their lot,” time and time again, these attempts boil down to “I’m going to teach you how to get laid.”

Why? Is that truly what they need most?

Those focused on this aspect of the otaku life overhaul have fallen prey to certain mental shortcuts. In reality, most of life is not spent in the bedroom, and most of success consists of buckling down and doing unpleasant jobs. But there’s a problem: teaching people how to wake up on time, tie on their ties, and produce proper resumes isn’t sexy. It’s boring, and it stares us in the face on a daily basis. It’s far easier to talk about something that interests us, and which they probably won’t know about.

Is that truly helpful? Suppose we write a game walkthrough and say, “OK, first get to level 99. Now, once you’re level 99, here are tips to maximize the awesomeness of your character.” Honestly, anyone who can get to the endgame has likely developed an idea of what they want to do in endgame. People who really, truly need help with their lives cannot get to that endgame. To return to the pick-up artist metaphor, they aren’t failing for lack of a smooth line they can dispense when faced with a Swedish supermodel. They are in need of help getting inside the club.

Further, take a look at the source of this life advice: we are anime and manga reviewers, writers, and entertainment journalists. It isn’t our job to be life coaches or therapists. Yet, men and women alike, we seem to automatically assume that otaku are socially dysfunctional, that dysfunction is reducible to one issue – sex – and that we have a simple, effective cure for whatever ails the reader.

3 thoughts on “Losing The Game”

  1. I actually write a blog to try and help inspire manga readers. I don’t think of them as socially dysfunctional, per se. However, some of them do need to develop proper behaviors and they can learn from manga. You just have to see beyond the battles, hot girls, gags, etc.

    You can check out my blog at: http://www.mangatherapy.com

    I like to know what you think.

  2. To be clear, I don’t endorse the Game in any way. I don’t think it’s good or healthy to follow ideas like these, whether or not you’re at “level 99.” There just seems to be an uncomfortable nugget of truth in the idea that we (or young, impressionable readers of Kaichou wa Maid-sama, I suppose) can be so easily manipulated.

    Thanks for linking back to me. :) I appreciate it.

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