Somewhere, there is a yellowing photograph of me wearing a jersey featuring Smurfette playing at a Ms Pac Man video game machine: the kind that took quarters. It was 1982.
The hardware was all clunky and simple, and it was marvelous. No one before us had even seen a VCR, and then suddenly within a few years there were video arcades, and MTV, and home computing. This was the era of Bill Gates proclaiming that 64K ought to be enough for anyone, and all of us nodding in stunned agreement.
The graphics of our first games weren’t sophisticated, and neither were the premises. The most violent game I played was one very much like Angry Birds, called Potty Pigeon, for the Commodore 64. More recently, I have gotten sucked into video games that simulated work: making efficient stacks of odd shapes, keeping electronic animals fed. I can be lulled like the other electronic sheep.
The sorts of uber-violent games marketed to kids more recently, especially to boys, are a different kind of electronic animal. I am especially cynical about first-person shooter games.
The military seems to like these kids playing video games. It makes it easier to teach them how to use the military’s software.
Consider the T-shirt in the image above Exhibit A on the normalization of video game use. It reads: “Computer games don’t affect kids, I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills and listening to repetitive music.”
This is why my generation never amounted to anything. Slackers.
Finally, since I am leaning on the internet for my arguments against video culture, here is what Jon Stewart has to say about how useful video game violence is, and to whom:
“Maybe we should always show pictures. Bin Laden, pictures of our wounded service people, pictures of maimed innocent civilians. We can only make decisions about war if we see what war actually is—and not as a video game where bodies quickly disappear leaving behind a shiny gold coin.” (Source: The Crazy Left.)