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Gaming Memories Helping to Heal Katrina Wounds 152

waterlogged writes "Lara Crigger writes a compelling account of the effects of hurricane Katrina on a person's sense of videogames in The Escapist. From the article: 'Hurricanes destroy more than just property; they destroy the sense of property, as well. They smash that universal belief that objects intrinsically carry some emotional gravity or weight. Acts of destruction remind us that physical substances are only equal to the exact sum of their parts: Plastic and cotton, metal or wood. What's left over is a painful buoyancy, an unbearable absence of feeling; you mourn not just your lost PS2 games or your Xbox controllers but also the fact that these once precious things have been proven completely meaningless. Even if they do remain intact after the storm (like the Samus poster), the only entity that really survives is you.'"
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Gaming Memories Helping to Heal Katrina Wounds

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  • by DoctaWatson ( 38667 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @06:12PM (#15870119)
    Because, in my mind, games can heal katana wounds.
    • Easier said when you weren't affected by Katrina. I was. It sucked. But at least I saved my Xbox *grin*
      • Of course it sucked! It was a low pressure weather system, after all.
      • "Easier said when you weren't affected by Katrina. I was. It sucked. But at least I saved my Xbox *grin*"

        Yup..it sucked...and seems weird, here we are almost a year later, and still so far away from having a *normal* life again.

        I was lucky...I was renting the top floor of a house at the edge of Lakeview...got 7ft. of water, but, I only lost a car and motorcycle. My stuff was spared the flood and wind damage, and somehow, I didn't get looted. I got everything moved out safely, but, have been living in fri

  • Awakening (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jbbernar ( 41291 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @06:12PM (#15870121)
    All this is a good thing. Eventually you'll realize that even you don't exist. That'll be even better.
    • So I stomped on his foot.
    • Re:Awakening (Score:2, Interesting)

      by JavaBrain ( 920722 )
      Mod parent up -- this is pure Buddhism and also appropriate to the thread -- the whole discussion really belongs in a Buddhist forum rather than videogaming. The idea that "things" have a fundamental value (as opposed to assigned values) with regard to mind, is what this addressing. The "self" (which the parent points out isn't real) is another created object of the mind. Self is really handy for locational reference (in time and space) and lets you navigate around your world, come up with schedules, etc
      • Every self is a part of something else. A self is a member of a family, which is a citizen of a state or country, which is also a member of a species, a church, a club or fraturnity, or anything else a person connects to. So a person is more than just a self, and no self is truly independent, we are inter-dependent on other selves, our habitat, other life and other entities. Of course a selfish individual may act like the universe revolves around them.
    • Eventually you'll realize that even you don't exist.

      That's a pretty ballsy thing to come out and post directly, even if it's true. Problem is, there are a million ways to interpret that statement and some of those interpretations are pretty fucked up/nonsensical. I like this subject though, so here's one interpretation that I think makes sense:

      You do exist, of course. What doesn't exist is the idea of you. To put it another way, your identity doesn't exist. This identity begins when you're born and your

  • XBox? (Score:5, Funny)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @06:14PM (#15870131) Homepage Journal

    If they had any of the original controllers they could have climbed on them and floated to safety.

  • by amightywind ( 691887 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @06:16PM (#15870145) Journal
    you mourn not just your lost PS2 games or your Xbox controllers but also the fact that these once precious things have been proven completely meaningless.

    Deep. It makes me think that the lawless, gangbanging aftermath of Katrina in New orleans would make a compelling Grand Theft Auto scenario.

  • OMG (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'm almost getting nostalgic for a Jon Katz article in this post Columbine^WKatrina world.
  • Acts of destruction remind us that physical substances are only equal to the exact sum of their parts: Plastic and cotton, metal or wood. What's left over is a painful buoyancy, an unbearable absence of feeling; you mourn not just your lost PS2 games or your Xbox controllers but also the fact that these once precious things have been proven completely meaningless.

    And that is why I play NetHack [nethack.org].

  • Imagine that.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Almahtar ( 991773 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @06:24PM (#15870188) Journal
    so it's a new thing that deriving your life's worth from your material possessions leaves you lacking in the long run? Don't feel sorry for these people whose stuff was destroyed: at least they have a chance at gaining perspective. Feel sorry for the guy that's still got his XBox and wastes all day, every day on it, or the guy that has a bright shiny car but no sense of personal worth.
    • HEY I have a bright shiny car, i don't needs no stinking personel worth.
    • Well said. I also feel sorry for all those people living off of the government and becoming slaves to the government. Try reading http://www.geoffmetcalf.com/790.html [geoffmetcalf.com]
      • "Well said. I also feel sorry for all those people living off of the government and becoming slaves to the government."

        Exactly!!! I've been reading articles about the scads of people that have moved from the public housing, a virtual dead end for life in pre-K NOLA...they are seeing what real education is, and what a life apart from thugs and dope dealers is like.

        For the life of me...I cannot fathom why some are making such noise to rebuild those blights on the city...why would they want the projects ba

    • "even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses" - Jesus, in Luke 12:15.
    • Maybe you should read this following article [canada.com]...


      Dugald Christie died on a years-long mission of conscience drove him for years
      He bicycled to work. He lived in a rented basement suite. He was a transplanted Scot who eschewed scotch but drank hot water with cream and sugar. A devout Anglican, he kept his offices in a church, arrived for work at daybreak and left, usually, 12 to 14 hours later. He could have made lots of money in his lifetime. He chose instead to make a difference.

      Dugald Christie was a
  • Sounds like someone took the red pill...
  • Relevant Quote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KingoftheAges ( 965041 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @06:24PM (#15870195)
    "It's only after you've lost everything," Tyler says, "that you're free to do anything."
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @06:26PM (#15870202)
    > Hurricanes destroy more than just property; they destroy the sense of property, as well. They smash that universal belief that objects intrinsically carry some emotional gravity or weight. Acts of destruction remind us that physical substances are only equal to the exact sum of their parts: Plastic and cotton, metal or wood.

    Which is why if a hurricane comes and crushes my console and sweeps away my games, I've lost nothing. The atoms don't matter -- I can buy another plastic console, and buy another piece of plastic and aluminum with some bits on it. I've lost nothing. The long numbers (a DVD with a game on it is just a multibillion-digit-long number) that, when read into a properly-configured piece of plastic and ceramic (say, an XBox or PS2), come to life as video games are of no consequence because they're easily replaced.

    But if a hurricane sweeps away my only copies (and my not-remote-enough backups) of the somewhat shorter numbers (million-digit-long strings of bits) that represent my digital photo archive, and then we can talk about pain.

    All numbers are unequal. But some are more unequal than others.

    • Except when you discover that they've stopped making the game and no one's selling their used copies.

      Things like Working Designs closing up shop is another issue. They were also in the business of making their games rare.
    • Definitely, the only part of a computer I care about is the hard drive (or whatever other storage medium it uses). Every(tangible)thing's replaceable but data is not. Not only that, it is literally priceless. You can insure an heirloom or a computer against damage or loss, but what's a $1000 check compared to years of memories and work?

      Isn't it strange that pirating a song costs the record industry thousands of dollars in lost sales, yet a file sitting on your hard drive cannot be insured for a single pe
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's called a reality check. Believe it or not, stuff doesn't last. Not even big stuff. Life goes on...it's good to be reminded of what's important; we all need that from time to time.
  • by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @06:27PM (#15870208)
    Why did Katrina destroy PS2 and Xbox consoles? We know why.

    It's because George Bush doesn't care about black game consoles.
  • wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by crabpeople ( 720852 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @06:27PM (#15870211) Journal
    This article is so melodramatic its insane.

    Hanging close to a window now smashed in by Katrina is a limited edition poster of Samus Aran, circa Super Metroid era. Gleaming in her Varia Suit, she kneels among sand and rocks, with her smoking arm cannon raised upward and the lonely Zebian desert reflected in her visor. Only 2,000 were ever made, and he has #1,968. But it is more than some collector's item; this poster is a tintype of the first girl to ever steal his heart. Like every man (and most women) of his generation, part of him still loves Samus Aran. She is his adolescence, his coming-of-age, a symbol of permanence and power and invincibility. What would it mean if she had been destroyed?

    That people still live here, that some of the evacuees have returned to their homes, that must mean something. But what home can stand firm on a foundation of mold and tears?

    The whole article is like that!!!
    But as we clean, I can't help but feel something indistinct and odd has transpired. I notice he avoids looking Samus' direction. Even as he carefully packs away the poster to be sent by mail to our apartment up north, he does not look too closely at her, and he does not idle in his task. Briefly, I wonder if he might blame her somehow for surviving the hurricane. Or, in light of his subtle detachment, if she had really survived at all.

    wow. seriously someone should tell this chick that not everything is an emotional rollercoaster. I get it, hes stoic marble man and your the sensitive girl that brings out his soft side, while probing his mysterious ways. just wow. This puts some of those homoerotic slashdot trolls to shame.

    • Re:wow (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jaseparlo ( 819802 )
      Do you have any clue? It's called literature, pick up a book one day and you might discover it. When you are writing to express an emotion you felt strongly at a time and you want your reader to relate, you use emotive language. This is a descriptive passage, about 'life' (you may have heard of it), not yet another review of yet another Madden '0, of course it's gonna seem emotional.
      • by 0xA ( 71424 )
        I don't exactly disagree with you. The language is appropriate to convey a certain depth of feeling however assigning that depth feeling to the friggin poster is pushing it a bit don't you think? The writer does that consistently throughout the article, the whole thing is just over the top.
        • Dunno, I could be touchy cos I lost a bunch of rare Pink Floyd and Iron Maiden posters when my parents' house burnt down in the six months between me moving out and going back to get the rest of my stuff :)

          Seriously though, I think the poster was just a focus for all the emotion the guy was feeling - the writer was expecting him to be as excited about the poster as he had been when he was a pimply teenager and first bought it, but the guy himself saw the poster and realised how much they had lost, both prop
      • Re:wow (Score:4, Funny)

        by pilkul ( 667659 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @07:41PM (#15870656)
        You must feel shivers of aesthetic bliss when you read Livejournal.
      • Replying again to elaborate on my throwaway comment, that's a silly view of what makes good literature. Many great authors are extremely cold and clinical: for example, Franz Kafka or J.M. Coetzee. And even those who strive for strong feelings often achieve it through understated and superficially unemotional language --- Kazuo Ishiguro's The Remains of the Day [amazon.com] is a good example. Lyricism is neither necessary nor sufficient to make good literature.
        • Hehe well yeah, fair comment about Livejournal :P The article isn't 'good' literature, just an editorial article on a gamer site. Doesn't mean it doesn't use literary devices and techniques though. I felt the GPP was over the top in criticising it that way. It may have been laid on a little thick but I guess it takes some effort to get gamers to step out of their shells and realise that there is a life going on out there.
      • There's a difference between 'emotive' and 'overwrought'. The fact that the reader finds it so transparently sentimental probably means the writer wasn't confident enough to stick to more subtle language and description.
        • Oh yeah, and I agree with the grandparent poster. Taking mundane objects and making them interesting or emotionally provocative is very difficult. When done incorrectly(which is most of the time), it makes me cringe. This happens frequently on NPR, when authors read excerpts of their own work. I find I'm emotionally indifferent most of the time, if not annoyed. It doesn't help that the authors always take on this soft, lingering, pretentious tone of voice whenever they read their own work, as if to artifici
    • Re:wow (Score:3, Insightful)

      by localroger ( 258128 )
      Been to New Orleans since Katrina? The place will have that effect on you. Even now, almost a year after the storm, it still does. Everyone who comes here and visits Lakeview or Chalmette says the same thing -- the scale of what happened here can't be conveyed by photography or video or even writing. You come thinking you know what to expect because you've seen the pictures and the TV reports and it still just knocks you down.

      This is just one more person who tried to convey what it was like, and ultimat
    • I'll take a materialist over an emotionalist any day. I mean fuck, get over your goddamn self (the author of the article)! You may have lost most of your material possessions, but apparently those were the least of your attachments.

      (yes, I encounter too many people who go on and fucking on about some trivial event)
      • I'll take a materialist over an emotionalist any day. I mean fuck, get over your goddamn self (the author of the article)! You may have lost most of your material possessions, but apparently those were the least of your attachments.

        (yes, I encounter too many people who go on and fucking on about some trivial event)

        Aaand we have a winner. The Mr Insensitive prize goes to noidentity (188756).

        Now on a more serious note... Dude, do you even have a fucking clue what you're talking about or asking for there? Some

  • Consider me insensitive, but how does it take a hurricane to realize this? You can get the same effect from having an SNES cartridge battery die, losing a memory card, or looking at a 200 hour FF7 game save years later and thinking about that lost excessive time. At least that's how I reacted to all of the above. I also don't understand how this is a specific to games. Any person who has survived a catastrophe (hurricane, fire, car collision) can realize the insignificance of material posessions when th
    • it is only signifigant to games for GAMERS.
      It would be signifigant to golf to Golfers.
      Since this is slashdot, then the games angle is probably more on target.

      And having everything gone is a lot different then the inconvience of needing a battery.

      • to rebroaden the scope:
        it is only significant to owners of possessions.

        anyone else would be a subscriber to philsophies of certain buddhist or taoist sects and probably wouldn't have possessions to begin with. Besides, you can buy a new XBox, it is a lot more difficult (and expensive) to duplicate the physical terrain of a destroyed golf course.

        And having everything gone is a lot different then the inconvience of needing a battery.
        I suppose I should have verbalized the concept more clearly:

        ... T

        • In my experience, people get more upset of the loss of the device then the data.
          Even though the data is more valuable.

          Even people of those sect you mentioned would learn this lesson if there temple was suddenly destroyed, and had not experienced similiar destruction before.
          People get bound to things, even when they know better, or try not to.

          Games are such a part of some peoples life that complete removal of the devices is shocking.

          I was thinking golfing clubs, more then a course.
    • Because it's written in an online gaming mag for gamers? It's also sort of a novelty because there are still many who would not attribute that kind of significance to games.

      People are funny. I could hear about a suicide or sudden death on the television and experience a sort of distant sympathy, but with the internet age when they have a significant online presence the death becomes magnified for me. Things like reading transcripts of their last conversations on IRC, looking at the profiles on their still-
      • You make good observations. A lot of older generations may not understand such experiences with a games not having played them a lot or while growing up, so there is a novelty.

        I can relate to what you are describing about witnessing the remenants of a life from their activity on the internet. There is a certain black irony to that as well, given the topic of the article... in the opposite case where piece of media/game/account/data/etc survives and a person does not, that media gains an "emotional gravity
  • I'd think any geek would have rationalized this. Why is it on Slashdot?
    • Good question, not to mention the fact that it's an 9 month old piece. Some days I wonder how stories get on this site. So much crap and reposts get posted and yet seemingly relevant stories that I and other friends have submitted over the years get turned down on a regular basis. Maybe if I was a paying subscriber it would increase my chances?
  • by Eberlin ( 570874 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @06:32PM (#15870243) Homepage
    Wait, have we gone so far into materialism that this becomes a wake-up call -- holy crap, my copy of Halo 2 doesn't matter in the long run!

    Sure, I guess we all need that reminder one way or another and great disasters have a way of giving us that reality check...but Katrina linking us to reality through ownership of Video Games? How frickin shallow are we?

    Just to get it over with, here are a few things to remember:

    Material posessions don't mean jack in the long run.

    Your SAT score doesn't mean jack in the long run either.

    Your high score in Tetris, your Super Mario Brothers speed run, and your 100pct completion rating for San Andreas...all insignificant. ...but if you vote for CowboyNeal in the slashdot polls -- that, my friend, can lead to the cure for cancer. Keep that in mind next time you click on the other options.

    Really, when it comes down to it, stuff doesn't matter much at all.
    • What matters to you isn't the same thing that matters to me and vice-versa. To answer your question, we're really 'frickin' shallow.

      The point is, we seek to be happy and avoid pain. What matters to us is whatever can help us seek happiness and avoid pain. To that end, owning video game consoles can bring you happiness, but they can't offset the pain brought on by katrina. It's as simple as that. Material posessions matter very much in the long run if you enjoy having them. Your SAT score matters if

    • Material posessions don't mean jack in the long run.

      Anyone can make statements. "The moon is made of cheese", "2+2=5". Easy. What's more interesting is when you make statements that you can justify. Maybe if you bothered to justify what you say it'd sound like more than just trite cliches.

      Really, when it comes down to it, stuff doesn't matter much at all.

      And this one really stands in need of a lot of justification.

      According to you, 'stuff' doesn't matter. According to you abstractions like 'high sc

    • Look, nobody takes this more seriously than me. That condo was my life, okay? I loved every stick of furniture in that place. That was not just a bunch of stuff that got destroyed, it was ME!
    • What does matter? Why does it matter? If you figure out the answer for yourself, does it become universal truth?

      Is your anwer a reflection of the society that you are a part of? If you were born in 2000 BC or spent your entire life wanting for material necessities in the middle of some third-world country, would your answer be the same?

      Given a sufficiently long "long run," humanity has become extinct and the earth has covered up all trace of our ever having existed. Unless the answer is preserving the spe
    • You're mostly right, but there are exceptions. Take musical instruments for example. You can get really really attached to instruments and it's different that a computer or xbox. You can buy another xbox, but you'll never find that special guitar again. Sure, you'll get over it, but it's gonna be hard.

      Another example is photos. A friend of mine lost almost all her childhood photos when her parents house burned down. It's about the only thing from that house she really misses - even today.

      Some _things_

  • the only entity that really survives is you.
  • What's left over is a painful buoyancy, an unbearable absence of feeling; you mourn not just your lost PS2 games or your Xbox controllers but also the fact that these once precious things have been proven completely meaningless. Even if they do remain intact after the storm (like the Samus poster), the only entity that really survives is you.

    I dunno why, but I get this same sort of feeling thinking about nuclear war, or just any war really...thinking that the auto shops, the supermarket offers, the little g
  • You get really good at a video game, then an alien coallition recruits you as a pilot. Then its life or death, the video game mattered, but no longer. Sounds strange? Metaphorically, it's not too far off my life.
    • Look, everyone, CrazyJim is back in the games section... AND AS CRAZY AS EVER!

      Hey Jim, how's the comic book with the rocket-katanas coming along? I want to read it so bad ever since I heard the idea! He can use the katana to fly like Superman, or shoot them like missiles! OMG!
  • I mean... (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Wind_Walker ( 83965 )
    ...birds are dying! [youtube.com]
  • by TrekCycling ( 468080 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @06:40PM (#15870301) Homepage
    Buy TWO copies of all your favorite games and store the second copy "off-site" in case of a natural disaster. This goes for memory cards as well.

    Then once you get your life back together from the hurricane you can pick up where you left off in God of War.

    Backups. The lesson is backups.
  • ph (Score:4, Interesting)

    by u-238 ( 515248 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @06:43PM (#15870323) Homepage
    isn't that the whole point? having a good time with friends?

    i remember realizing this some time during my ROM collecting phase -- it didn't take long before i realized that it wasn't the gameplay i craved but the memories of that time of life (childhood).

    tell me how one's fond recollections of videogame playing--with brothers, sisters, neighborhood friends--are different from your grandparent's stories of fort building and crayfish hunting?
    • by Kesch ( 943326 )
      tell me how one's fond recollections of videogame playing--with brothers, sisters, neighborhood friends--are different from your grandparent's stories of fort building and crayfish hunting?


      My grandparents had to do it in foot deep snow, uphill, both ways.
    • Thank you for saying that.

      I'm amazed by how many puritans there are on /. for whom game playing is a dirty little sin that "doesn't matter".

  • You know, written by some "artsy" chick who takes pictures of her feet.
  • -1, Redundant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by I Like Pudding ( 323363 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @06:54PM (#15870387)
    So, video games aren't really that important when your personal Maslow Hierarchy [pateo.com] goes Jenga.

    Big. Fucking. Revelation.

    Boy, I was drowning this one time and I sure needed air and not video games. Makes you think LOL!!111
  • "- You can do whatever you want!
    - It's been so long since I heard those words, I don't know what they mean
    anymore. [...] Gambling no longer have any appeal for me, when every day
    is a risk, cards and dices are not quite as interesting as they used to be"

    - Vir & Londo, B5:"Darkness Ascending"

    I'd like to see more of these articles on slashdot. Linux don't matter by itself, Macs don't matter themselves, Games don't matter by themselves. It's the ideals and values behind the actual physical incarnati
  • Survival Situation (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CodeBuster ( 516420 ) on Tuesday August 08, 2006 @07:11PM (#15870472)
    It is actually not surprising that disaster situations tend to change people's priorities when it comes to physical possessions and property. Would you rather have your intact XBOX (w/working controllers) but no power OR MREs, Jeep Wrangler (or other four wheel drive vehicle), jerry cans w/fuel, waterproof matches, and your trusty sidearm (w/box of ammunition)? Actually, getting Americans to be more self-sufficient in a survival situation is probably a good thing as opposed to the throw away, outsourcing, let someone else do it society that we live in today. It is unfortunate that people suffered and in some cases lost their lives, but perhaps this will remind people that the government is not responsible for the survival of any one citizen, but rather society in general. You have to be prepared to take matters into your own hands because the police, government, coast guard, etc...will not always be there to help you.
    • Indeed sometimes they will wait several days to do a goddam thing, and the Mountees will be helping you before the National Guard. Don't count on the government for anything other than a flyover to "give you hope".

      Also, "getting Americans to be more self-sufficient in a survival situation is probably a good thing". God knows that if there's a dearth of survivalists anywhere on earth, it's in the USA.
  • Lara Crigger.
    aka Jon Katz?
  • This article is refering to games. Not just games, video games which are by nature very easy to replicate. If a hurricane hit your home to the point where compact disks did not survive, you shouln't be worring about video games.
  • I wrote The Sims 1 Crowd Sitter [donhopkins.com] to simulate the effects of Bush's (lack of) response to Hurricaine Katrina.

    -Don

  • ...this chicks prozac was destroyed by the hurricane as well. *sigh*
  • Didn't the author of the article ever see, or read, Needful Things? Where's a Satanic Max von Sydow when you need him?
  • If you read the article, the more important thing is that once you have a town to rebuild, or something really serious happens/has happened, you no longer seek the distraction of a video game. You have something more important to do, and games lose their appeal, due to some deep survival instinct.

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