Metaphors of Blindness in the Video Game Lexicon

 This screen capture is of the title screen to Platinum Games' "Bayonetta," which is featured in the "Let's Play: Bayonetta" series by YouTuber AceStarThe3rd.

This screen capture is of the title screen to Platinum Games' "Bayonetta," which is featured in the "Let's Play: Bayonetta" series by YouTuber AceStarThe3rd.

Before I explain this metaphor, I should preface with an explanation about Let’s Plays (LPs).

LPs are episodic videos, usually on YouTube, that showcase a gamer playing a video game and commentating over the the gameplay. Lately, I have not had much time to play video games (a major hobby of mine), but I have been able to watch these shows while at work. In addition to LPs, streaming through Twitch, which occurs in real time, is another popular method of watching gameplay, and competitive tournaments (my favorite is Super Smash Bros.) are often hosted worldwide and made available through Twitch.

What interests me, aside from the obvious, is the lexical generation that occurs in streaming and video game communities. Phrases like, “bodied,” “get reckt,” and, “GG,” all seem to have their beginnings in online video game communities, particularly in the chat and comment sections of Twitch streams and YouTube videos respectively. One particular phrase that got my attention this week is playing a game “blind,” or for the first time.

Here, metaphors of blindness in the video game lexicon rethink the state of being blind—lacking sight—and repurpose it as a state of inexperience. Gamers will often point out their blindness in the titles and descriptions of their videos, highlighting the merits of being blind, which include reacting genuinely to key moments in the game, learning to play the game alongside the viewer, and delving into the story or mythos of a game for the first time. Some gamers will actively seek out LPs that are solely blind runs, and content creators will ask their audiences which games to play for the first time. Video game blindness is something sought after by viewers and content creators alike.

Of course, this metaphoric transformation of blindness is problematic because it disregards the struggles and experiences of people who live with blindness, casting aside that experiential reality for a metaphoric convenience. Much like we know today that phrases such as, “I was blind to something,” are problematic, the metaphors of blindness in the video game lexicon perform the same erasure. The question now is if gamers will modify their lexicon to reflect these problematics. I do not think they will.