Something really interesting happened during my last stream. As I was playing through the multitude of different levels that were being sent to me by the community, I decided to mentally keep track of how many levels I got in the various different styles that have become prevalent over the years. In this specific case, I counted the modern levels, glow levels, neodesign, and if there was anything else I just classified it as miscellaneous. I saw a bit of modern, a ton of neodesign, and a pretty hefty amount of miscellaneous stuff as well. But what I noticed at the end was really strange, something that had never happened to me before, and I'm not entirely sure has ever happened during a mod request stream. (Correct me if I'm wrong on this.)
I was never requested a single glow level.
At first, I just attributed it to a mere coincidence, a fluke. It probably just so happened that the people who tuned into the stream didn't have any glow levels to request. But I started thinking about it more. Why? Why didn't they request glow levels? I knew it had nothing to do with my "standards." I'm a known defender of glow and modern levels, much to the dismay of some of my fellow mods. I make it known that I attempt to treat every level the exact same, regardless of style. So I knew I wasn't the source of this sudden glow withdrawal, if you will.
So, why? Why didn't I get sent any levels of a style that's known for being so widespread and overdone? And after thinking it over, I think I've come to a good reason.
Some time ago, Norkbork coined the phrase "Stylistic Prejudice" to refer to the idea of someone immediately disliking a level or turning themselves away from it simply because of the style that it's built in. I think we're seeing a certain extent of that at work here. Let me explain.
There has been a huge shift in the past year or two of community preference when it comes to assessing a level's overall quality. It went from a level simply looking visually appealing for it to catch the community's eye, to a level instead trying out a new concept, or testing the editor's creative boundaries. It's a shift that lots are in favor of, and others are quite frustrated with. I find myself in a sort of middle ground, understanding the viewpoints of both sides. The rise of creators such as Presta, Overdefo and Neigefeu have been reflective of this change in community outlook, and the birth of neodesign marked the beginning of one of the most controversial styles to date.
As I said, these new approaches to the editor were very divisive, but ultimately they did find their way to the public eye. Many levels that partake in this unconventional way of thought have found themselves in the eyes of some of the most influential content creators on the site, and some have even gotten into the GD awards. Needless to say, this new ideology has become extremely popular over the past year.
I'm not gonna sit here and comment on the effectiveness of neodesign, or how I feel about the idea of creativity being favored over visual appeal. That's not the point of this article. But understanding the huge increase in popularity of neodesign and other off-the-wall types of creating is necessary to get a grasp on where the community is now in terms of which levels tend to get the most attention.
And throughout all of this, glow levels have taken a backseat. Many of them are labeled as "just another glow level" or something that "doesn't try anything new." Again, whether or not these arguments are valid is not what I'm discussing here. The point is that, because of the increased emphasis lately on creativity over visual appeal, glow levels are becoming less and less popular.
Here's where stylistic prejudice comes in. As stated earlier, glow levels have reached the point where they're being written off or flat out ignored simply because the style that they're built in has a reputation for not attempting to experiment or try anything new. In other words, glow levels are being actively discouraged just because they are glow levels, and many people believe that glow levels cannot contribute anything special.
And that is why I think I didn't come across any glow levels during my stream. The shift in ideology of the community has led to unconventional, off-the-wall levels to start to become the norm. Because of this, many feel deterred from building in the style they originally want to build in.
Depending on who you ask, this might be an amazing thing for the community. We'll finally see the end of a style that's dominated the awarded tab for years on end, and we'll get to see some actual creativity.
But honestly... I'm just a little saddened by it. In my opinion, glow levels are essential for this game, but not in the way you may think. This runs further than just something that needs to fill the awarded tab.
Let me do a little comparison. I want you to take a look at the Oscar nominees for best picture from the last 10 years. Count how many superhero movies you see up there. If my memory serves me correctly, there are none, except for Black Panther. What are some criticisms you can imagine are levied against superhero movies? Probably that they're all the same. They're safe, they pander to general audiences, and they don't often make the viewer really think. You don't have to believe this yourself for the analogy to work, but just understand that many people tend to complain about contemporary superhero films in this manner.
Now, I want you to think about glow levels, and what people don't like about them. Probably that they're all the same. They're safe, they pander to general audiences, and they don't often make the player really think.
I've equated glow levels to comic book movies for quite a while. I find the parallels between the two to be really intriguing. A style of expression becomes prevalent, and starts a huge trend. After a while, the style is then reduced in popularity due to the criticisms listed above. Instead, more creative and unconventional works get the spotlight in awards shows, and many works of the old style just fade into obscurity.
But let me ask you something. Why did neodesign get so popular? Well, easy. It challenged the norm. It turned the idea of what was normal on its head and instead did something new.
Ok. Well... what happens when the style that's all about going against the norm... becomes the norm?
Now obviously I'm not saying that neodesign levels are the norm at this point in time. It's just not true. Glow and modern levels greatly outnumber them. But, neodesign is getting far more attention, like I said. If we allow for "creative" levels to become more widespread than glow, then the "creative" levels themselves by comparison won't be creative anymore. Quoting Syndrome from The Incredibles, "If everyone's super, then no one will be."
Let me make another comparison. If superhero movies are so widely criticized, why are they still so successful? Why do they make so much money at the box office, or keep being made? We watch them because it's a nice way for us to enjoy some safe, appealing content. I think we all know they aren't anything too special, but they're still something nice for us to enjoy.
That's exactly how I feel about glow levels. If we don't have these glow levels here to sort of pass the time, then the creative levels that rebel against it just don't seem as special in comparison.
In other words, this community needs glow in order to make creativity more special.
So the next time you open the awarded tab and see a random 6 star with empty black transitions and an ending at the drop, you don't have to like it. But at least try to appreciate it.