Computer games are witholding our youth from an authentic rebel yell?

by phil on Saturday Mar 12, 2005 1:46 PM

at the game developers conference here in San Francisco they opened the floor for ranting by people in the gaming industry. it's a very good conversation, and I think a lot of people's creativity comes from complaint. interspersed in between was some pretty out-there ideas from a cultural and social anthropological perspective.

I want to talk about the spectacle. The meanings created by images that hold us in webs. My thesis is that we are contributing to the damage that the spectacle does to human beings by suggesting the interactivity of a joystick is real agency. We entrain people to understand that imitation has personal power. The spectacle trains us to be consumers. We are urged to keep the economy healthy, pay our bills. Did you ever notice there’s not place for the earth on the bottom line? We cancelled the Voyager mission for less than the cost of a video game! The dream of space appropriated by George W Bush? How can we stand for this?

Games keep essential social myths in place. So we have tropes in our business. Criminals are cool. The commercial game business is a non-consensual relationship between middle aged men and young boys. It’s worse than the catholic church. These are guys who have really big tyres on their trucks … and we all know why! [laughter] So the fantasies of these guys position these boys as tiny little clones: so they force you to take your genius to create this .. this .. we can’t have that fellas. Oh by the way there was a crowd in the ladies bathroom today. w00t!

GTA. I talked to 22 little boys in LA, all of them wanted to see that game. With only one exception, the thing that they wanted to see was to be able to drive by their house. They weren’t interested in stealing cars. Or the criminals. Or the back-story. They weren’t interested in that, they wanted the simulation of driving by the house.

We model male ethos in the games we design: soldier, super athlete, criminal. Anyone who was born with internet and computers are prosocial. Skaters are mainstream. We have two models of alpha maleness: skaters and ballers [I have no idea what this is referring to - A]. … we need heroes, but what kind of heroes are we making? Where’s Malcolm X, or Chavez? There hasn’t been a game about geopolitics that was worth a shit since Hidden Agenda! We should be giving people rehearsals for citizenship and change. I have to tell you, Microsoft is the walking dead. DRM is a wet dream. It’s not gonna work! Cat’s out the bag! When this happens, you have to let the cards fly in the air and fall where they may. GIVE IT UP ABOUT DRM. GIVE IT UP ABOUT OWNERSHIP. Cleave to open source! A NEW ECONOMY IS COMING. As we become further connected we will find new economies emerging. We are the wellspring of popular culture. We have a responsibility. -- Brenda Laurel. View Original Article

At the very least, I applaud her moxie.


Servantmaster said on March 16, 2005 1:36 AM:

Yeah, I think this article has some interesting points. I take it that the author is mainly discussing the pyche of smaller children who, indeed may mistake a joystick for real agency, but definately not those above the age of 6 or 7.

There are a limited amount of themes available to games players these days which mostly fall in the masculin ethos catagory, but I beleive this is simply because of contraints of the technology at present.Once we start to see the emergence of higher levels of sensory imersion in games, peaking with total immersion (true VR) the possibilities for more artistic, constructive, social, feminine and just plain out landish themes will present themselves.

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