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Soldat_Louis's picture
Joined: 2006-11-08

Remember [I]The Times[/I]' Janice Turner's rant, about video games being "satan's sudoku" ?

Well, I've just read [URL=http://women.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/women/the_way_we_live/article3304266.ece]another out of touch column[/URL] from [I]The Times[/I] that talks about video games. Kate Muir, author and columnist, just realized that video games were for adults too... But she can't help relating it to a "child-man" problem.

IMPORTANT : before reading this coumn, note that the title "The dark ages" is NOT the title of the article itself : it's the title of Kate Muir's recurring column, just like "The political game" is the title of Dennis' regular column at [I]Joystiq[/I].

This being said, here is the full content of this article :

[QUOTE=Kate Muir]
[B]The dark ages (February 4, 2008)[/B]

At my college evening class last week, two intelligent, thirtysomething suited guys – solicitors or managers to judge from their e-mail addresses – were talking about their new Xbox 360s and what transcendent joy was to be had from them. I eavesdropped more attentively. Apparently, in Gears of War, the smallest details of the largest battles were crystal clear, in widescreen! Surely they were discussing their children’s computer games? Xboxes are toys, after all.

Further chat revealed the professional gentlemen were childless. The Xboxes were toys for very big boys indeed. Worried, I went unto Google and retrieved this trend for you: Nielsen Media Research surveyed American men aged 18 to 34 and found 48 per cent of them had used a games console recently, and on average, it was for 2 hours 43 minutes per day. Yes, half of not-so-young men spend nearly three hours a day gaming.

Can this be true? Are British chaps really spending their life outside work alone in their bedrooms or living rooms with games on 50in LCD TVs? I assumed that, after adolescence, young men put away childish things and played amateur football, got amusingly drunk, instigated punch-ups, watched Big Brother or ineffectually pursued women. Yet here were men holding down serious careers by day, but infantalised by night in a virtual world.

I quizzed my sons, aged 10 and 13. “Are fathers playing these games alone, without their offspring as an excuse?” I asked. “Yes,” they said. “They buy them for their kids, then play them themselves.” One banker dad they knew was always on Age of Empires and Civilization. As for the Wiis in other people’s houses – well, you couldn’t get the adults off them, they said. Particularly the golf.

It’s worse than grown men building Hornby 00-gauge train sets in their attics, or constructing battles with painted toy soldiers. Only a few men did that, in secret, but now everyone is celebrating their inner geek.

Now, I recognise the amusement to be had strutting your stuff to Guitar Hero III and I know what’s in the Age of Empires, Second Life, World of Warcraft-type on-and-offline games, having been bored rigid over people’s shoulders, but what of the “mature”-rated video games? I’ve heard of the rude ones, such as Leisure Suit Larry, where Larry’s object is to divest himself of his leisure suit. Or the panting that goes on in the “Hot Coffee” patch in Grand Theft Auto. But what of the solicitor’s and manager’s favourite game, Gears of War?

Off to the Istillplaygames.com website. Fans of Gears of War write of the non-stop assault course: “The bayonet is dead – long live its replacement: the baby chainsaw.” And: “The sounds of the Locusts crying out as your chainsaw rips through them is one of the most satisfying things I’ve heard.” Oh, yes. Look closely from now on at your solicitor and check for the madness in his red, screen-dry eyes.

Who knew that the generation who first became addicted to Pac-Man and Super Mario would turn out to be boys who never grew up? Man-teens sitting before their kiddy consoles like huge manatees.

But the games addiction is only a symptom of the extended childhood of the 21st-century hominid. Marriage, families and children are being delayed for as long as possible, replaced by conspiratorial flatmates and microwaved gastropub ready meals. Italian men stay at home with their mother; the British and Americans want to lead a life like an endless episode of Friends.

Perhaps there’s nothing to complain of about this man-teen era, unless you’re a woman with a ticking biological clock, waiting for someone – anyone – to grow up. As the academic Kay S. Hymowitz writes in the latest edition of City Journal, the young man “lingers – happily – in a new hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance. Decades in the unfolding, this limbo may not seem like news to many, but, in fact, it is to the early 21st century what adolescence was to the early 20th: a momentous sociological development of profound economic and cultural import.”

Perhaps the man-teen’s retreat into a fantasy world of titans and totty merely reflects his lack of comfort in the real world, where daring, muscle and aggression are no longer valued. And how different is it from women slipping off into chick lit? If there is a crisis in traditional masculinity, perhaps the online game world provides a safe haven. Computer gaming offers a convenient escape from the domestic into the masculine, just as, last century, the gentlemen’s and working men’s clubs did.


I'm quite glad that there are already 90 comments, which are all opposed to Muir's point of view except one or two. I'm also glad that nearly all these comments are civil and well-written.


- Gaming Since 198X : http://gamingsince198x.fr/
By crazy old men, for crazy old men (in French)
- If you want to know more about the real Soldat Louis (which I'm not affiliated with : I'm just a devoted fan), go there : http://www.soldatlouis.com/

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