Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Playing The Game

Sorry for the little time lapse in posts - I've been caught up in some rather engrossing reading for the last few days.

I have to admit that while I generally take upon myself the belief that everyone has the right to choose their own path there comes a certain point where the decisions and actions (or lack thereof) of one person begin to grossly interfere with the lives others, more often than not in an unacceptable fashion. What really set me off about all this was a friend of mine that posed a question for me today.

Midway through an IM conversation he copied and pasted this definition for me and asked me if I agreed with it:

Art{n}-creations or expressions that are appealing or attractive to the senses or have significance to the mind of an individual

Innocently I gave him some lovely response about how I believed that art, while it may be visually appealing or significantly attractive, was about so much more than surface paint. It should be about the things that resonate with the deepest parts of us as humans and members of humanity, I told him. It should help us see the way the world looks through others eyes and remind us to be open to new ideas.

My friend responded by thanking me. Momentarily confused, I asked why he was doing so.
"Because," he replied "you've just explained to me why video games are art."

Nooooooo. I'm more than certain that I did, if anything, the exact opposite of that. There are few things in this world that I can say, with absolute surety, that I completely hate. Video Games happen to be one of them.

I grew up reading. There are precious few things in this world that I love more than literature and even fewer that stand the test of time. My mother taught me to read when I was only four and even now I can still remember the crisp smell of the pages and the smooth sheen of the new books she would bring home for me. Years later I can recall walking home from our local library with stacks of twenty or thirty books piled high in my arms. Those were the times of innocence when, like so many other children, I truly believed the world could be mine - and was through every new volume I returned with. I credit most of my major successes in life with my fortunate love of reading - and the urge to write that naturally stems from it. And, in many of the same ways that writing brought happy circumstance into my life, video games and all mannerisms associated with them - brought nothing but misery.

There are countless facets to the arguments that line both sides of this issue. Ive heard the complaints of boredom and social networking (especially when concerning computer games) that come from the "for" side and I've also heard the complaints of violence, unhealthy addiction, and general sloth attributed to the "against" side. I cant speak for everyone. Maybe for the guys that get together once a week to play for three hours and then return home - it works. However, for the vast majority I've seen nothing good come of it. And just for the record I spent many years watching it all go down.

It's sad and unfortunate but there are actually support groups and networks out there (typically formed by women) designed to support wives, girlfriends, and family that are losing people to game addictions. The big culprits here are MMPORG's (Mass Multi-Player Online Role-Playing Games. I hate that I know what that means. These are the games that will literally suck your boyfriend/husband/brother/friend into a life that revolves around these games. They have therapy for this kinda stuff now. It's that bad. Now to be fair - its not entirely men doing this. There are plenty of women that play these things too but since my experience was with an ex-boyfriend I cant really relate with them. I spent way too much time putting up with unreturned phone calls, blown off dates, and one sided arguments with a person starting at a computer screen, and as a result the only advice I can give to anyone who finds themselves with one of this people is this: Leave.

The point with all this ranting and raving over something firmly in the past is that I find myself with an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for a more refined type of living. I like the idea of families still eating together around a table instead of TV. I like the idea of kids playing tag and riding their bike outside instead of shouting and waving at a computer screen that displays nothing but blood and gore. And yea I like the idea of an afternoon curled up with a book and a cup of coffee instead of an all-nighter playing Dungeons and Dragons. But that's just me. I cannot and do not see any form of art in video games or the like and the measly benefits that might be gained from them do not, under any circumstance, outweigh the negatives. I've done the research and I've heard the horror stories. Countless breakups and divorces are the result of these games. An entire generation of socially inept teenagers with weight problems and aversions to sunlight are the result of these games. I've even heard of children dying of neglect and malnutrition because their parents were too busy raiding.

In many ways I'm biased. I hung around too long waiting for something I already knew wasn't going to change. These things get rooted inside a person and they don't easily remedy themselves. Its not really my place to say whats wrong or right for any other person however I cannot help but stress the distinction that art does not take form in a primitive, addictive, fashion of entertainment. The social outcasts and addictive personalities that would disagree with me are in their right to do so but let me urge anyone that finds themselves the victim of such thoughtless people to not remain stagnant as these type of people choose to. Keep moving forward, and if the arguments, the pleading, and the reasoning is done in vain - leave.


1 comment:

Sarah said...

I grew up reading too.

I don't understand most video games. I grew up playing Super Mario Bros on the super nintendo my grandmother owned during the summer.

Really games don't need to be more engrossing then that.