Article: May 2002 Archives

by Robert de los Reyes, Esq.

Hell is other people, said French existentialist philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Having endured the long-haul flights connecting Los Angeles and New York for the trip to E3, it's easy enough to agree, at least, that Hell is other people in airports. Why people insist on carrying 8 lbs of metal on their person, each ounce of which must be separately removed and inspected by airport security, is beyond my understanding. I have just one word for travelers: plastics. I have also (nearly) resolved to declare bedroom slippers as my travel footwear of choice in light of how frequently security requires me to remove my shoes.

Sartre's famous epigram popped into my head while listening to IDSA president Doug Lowenstein's opening comments to the media on Wednesday morning. Among many other subjects, Lowenstein discussed massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs). In particular, Lowenstein hinted at the contrast between the sizeable push into online gaming of both PC and console game makers and the relatively small portion of the gaming community that participates in online gaming, persistent world gaming especially. The chief culprit for this low uptake is, to Lowenstein's way of thinking, the failure of internet service providers (ISPs) to deliver us to the promised land of a chicken in every pot and broadband connectivity in every computer room. And he's probably right about that. North American broadband penetration is embarrassingly low, and growth, while palpable, remains slow. Broadband connections are not required to play most online games, but they enhance the experience immeasurably. Still, thinking of Sartre, broadband penetration isn't the only problem online gaming, and persistent world gaming in particular, must resolve.

by Robert de los Reyes, Esq.

As we at FI prepare to head off to E3, stunning in its excess, I am put in mind of a new front in the current war on computer and video games. It seems not a week goes by in which video games aren't blamed for some great evil in the world, particularly for inducing youth violence and assorted anti-social tendencies. History tells us these charges are preposterous. Books, theater, movies and music... even Elvis' hips have been blamed for destroying young minds. Thomas and Harriet Bowdler produced a work called Family Shakespeare in 1818 designed to make Shakespeare more suitable for impressionable young ears (their legacy gives us the modern English word "bowdlerization," meaning the process of prudishly censoring something). Even in the 19th Century, the cry of "We've got to protect the children" rang out. Rightfully, it seems silly now, and I hold out hope that in time this anti-video game crusade will seem silly as well. It really doesn't matter whether video games never approach Shakespeare's level of art; that wasn't the Bowdlers' concern. They were concerned about harming children. They were wrong, and the anti-video game crowd is wrong, as well.

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This page is an archive of entries in the Article category from May 2002.

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