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Comment: Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (Score 1) 343

by sfnate (#27914451) Attached to: On the Advent of Controversial Video Games
How many ways do you want to have this? On the one hand you argue that instinct is rightly satisfied through virtual slaughter, then in practically the same breath you suggest that reason trumps instinct in perhaps the most difficult occupation a human being can have. Instinct can serve a parent well, especially when reason is too slow to respond...

But I can see that you're becoming too agitated to read what I actually wrote, which is, to sum it up, that I think about these things critically, as an attempt to explore the implications of the glorification of violence in this medium.

Your argument, such as it is, appears to be that we should enthusiastically embrace or celebrate violence, simply because the violent impulse is an inevitable consequence of being human. Sure, okay, but a reasonable human being might ask to what extent should we control our compulsion to kill, or understand and protect ourselves from those things that inspire or trigger violence? That's a reasonable question, I think.

People who like violent games disconnect them from the debate by saying they're just entertainment, or harmless diversions, or helpful tools for sublimating the violence urge.

I thing we should bring them into the debate by acknowledging them as a very significant phenomenon. I think the deeper meanings for their popularity are as yet undiscovered by reasonable analysis.

Comment: Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (Score 1) 343

by sfnate (#27913585) Attached to: On the Advent of Controversial Video Games

Something about the level of knowledge you have on the matter tells me you're failing at parenting and pointing at others to feel better about it.

What level of knowledge is required before I am allowed to have an opinion? But your first point is right on: good parenting is about communication and intervention, particularly (for example) when a child is about to run into the street. I think the demographic around here probably favors the younger audience, for whom these games are a part of the cultural landscape. I can remember a time before Doom, and in fact when I first saw and played that game, I had misgivings about it. Kind of like Catholic guilt, or existential dread. Look, I'm sure all of you are very well adjusted, productive human beings. The fact that the reaction is so strong to contrarian viewpoints on this issue suggests that there is an emotional component to this, similar to the debate on gun control. In fact, this is just like the gun control debate, except it's over virtual guns! All I will say is that as the distinction between the virtual and real worlds continues to fade, these questions of violence and assault and anger will become increasingly difficult to dismiss with "life is gory, dude, lighten up!" There are some real issues here to discuss and debate. Neither side will win with simplistic or reflexive arguments, but I think it's worth stating an opinion and talking it over.

Comment: Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (Score 1) 343

by sfnate (#27913307) Attached to: On the Advent of Controversial Video Games

Go check out an original version of Grimm's Fairy Tales. I can guarantee you it won't be the Disneyfied stuff you're force feeding your kid.

Oh, I don't know. Disney does explore the darker side of the human psyche from time to time, you know, like murdering pretty girls with poison apples, kidnapping children, etc. I'm no fan of Disney, but I think the company does (or did) have some awareness that children can (and probably should) be exposed to the scarier side of life, albeit in a way that shields them from soul-shattering gore and cruelty. As a parent--you are a parent, I'm sure--one of your jobs (let's call it a "mission," just to synch up with the audience here) is to protect your child. Actually, it's more instinctive than that--you just do it. If a 20 year old wants to play a FPS, okay, fine, I may find it troubling or disturbing, but some people just have a taste for that kind of meat, and who am I to tell them what to do? Right? But when it comes to my kid, and the fact that these games are widely accessible, I'm forced into a real dilemma: what do I think about a 10 year old playing this stuff, over and over, without reflection or critical thinking, just endless killing without remorse? Well--and as a parent, I'm sure you'll have some sympathy--this causes me to wonder about psychic affects in the same way people may have wondered about the physical affects of smoking. Science answered that question--people die from smoking--and yet people continue to smoke. Science and research suggest that FPS may have a deleterious affect on the mental health of children, and suddenly all the fanboys are beside themselves arguing that Big Mommy Science can't tell them what to do. Fair enough. But as a parent I MUST think about these things, in a way that a single 25 year old may not, simply because everybody knows parents are dumbasses (but keep the money coming, Pops).

So I thank you, dumbass spawner, for continuing the wussification of our culture and for being too cowardly to embrace humanity fully in all its terrible glory.

Is this the part where you thrust you lop off my head then impale on a stick, to impress upon me the "terrible glory" of humanity. Gee. That would be terrible.

Comment: Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (Score 2, Interesting) 343

by sfnate (#27910825) Attached to: On the Advent of Controversial Video Games

Sometimes, you just have dumbass parents out there, and in groups they can get even worse.

As the dumbass parent of a 10 year old child, I feel qualified to say something that will irritate and exasperate all of the game-loving hipsters out there. I think these games that make a glorious (or is it "gorious") spectacle of blood-soaked and gut-choked violence are a plague. As a phenomenon, they suggest to me that something especially barbaric is stirring in our collective unconscious, like maybe the long repressed caveman insisting on his daily blood sacrifice in the absence of any authentic, constructive, or ritualized expression of his instinctive needs. Gore-gamers do what they do in a kind of solipsistic isolation: at a sub-conscious level they are performing the stereotyped routine of your typical serial killer, abstracted from society in a way that makes there mechanized, repetitive behavior seem particularly alien from any values that support life-sustaining activity. Sure, these gamers can form virtual roaming packs of killers--a perversion of community, to cast it negatively--but whatever benefit they get from engaging with other human beings is mitigated by the almost autistic intensity they bring to harvesting the surplus virtual flesh they encounter online. I'm sure there will be no end to the angry assertions that there's no scientist or researcher who can prove a single negative thing about FPS games, but come on, anybody who hasn't been completely assimilated and sucked into the virtual compound can see that the troubling, amoral, nihilistic violence done to people and relationships in these games can't be a positive thing, if only because the vampiric nature of the gamer-game relationship sucks real life energy down a bottomless hole of appetite, and gives nothing back. Except maybe adrenaline and carnival, car-crash thrills.

Comment: Re:Just like cable TV (Score 4, Insightful) 278

by sfnate (#18281438) Attached to: More Advertising in Your Next Xbox Game
This is the thin wedge of advertising--let it in and it will grow to dominate the virtual landscape in the same why it dominates the real. No question. Those who argue that the market will correct any excesses are a bit naive. One of the reasons I gave up television altogether was that the advertising was completely out of control. The advertising won't stop or be curtailed by these gaming companies once they realize it's going to pump a lot of money into their coffers--they'll come to depend on the revenue stream like a crack addict and will keep expanding the ad space by degrees, slowly so you won't notice what you're losing and unconciously become accustomed to it. And just like on TV the shows are there to keep your eyeballs focused until the next ad appears, games will become yet another way to keep you sitting still and passively taking in adverts. At least with Tivo you can fast forward--I don't think a similar workaround will be available to gamers. Charge me a price that covers your costs and keep the ads out.

Some people claim that the UNIX learning curve is steep, but at least you only have to climb it once.

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