Sunday, November 23, 2008

Video games will one day destroy humanity

From the TED talks - the presenter had a really good presentation about how video games have emerged from 8-bit to nearly photo-realistic quality and how gaming has become this huge thing now. It's a decent talk, but it's also kinda obvious to everyone under 50.

But at about 10 minutes in, he shows some guy's video who melodramatically goes on and on about he's some hopeless video game addict who can't tell fantasy from reality and bombards the audience with all the alleged scary implications of video games. Seriously.

I'm a gamer and I love video games. I love the thrill in out-witting and out-playing an opposing army - methodically conquering the whole zone with my own army and leaving only slag in my wake. I love getting the fleet together and doing the same thing on a galactic scale. I love alpha-striking an enemy mech's cockpit with PPCs. I love starting from scratch on some open world and exploring it down to the last rock, learning all its secrets and besting all its adversaries. I love saving the world, and I love dominating the world with an iron fist.

I love video games, but I know they're not real. Don't get me wrong, I relish the experience and I get really into what I'm doing, but I never confuse fantasy with reality.

This guy, however, doesn't seem to be able to separate fantasy from reality. And that's genuinely scary because people who truly are like that belong in the looney bin. At its best, a video game is a form of interactive storytelling - and except for the interactive part, it's not all that different from our other forms of storytelling, like watching movies or reading a book. If you really enjoy reading Harry Potter, that's cool. If you think you are Harry Potter, then you have some serious problems. And (zealous parents take note) the book's not to blame for your problems.

Video games are getting better than ever, but they're just another form of entertainment. They will soar to new heights as the technology behind them allows for more and more realistic representations of real and totally fantastic worlds. But they won't cause you to be some mindless, addicted zombie or any of the other scary stuff the fearmongers casually throw around. Video games won't destroy humanity.

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