Wednesday, December 20, 2006

History of games

Though I have never played a computer game of any sort, and probably never will, other people's descriptions of them, including No.1 Son's, have made me think that interactive games will be in the foreseeable future what the novel has been since the Victorians: the prime imaginative response to, and exploration of, the world and our part in it. For the moment, they seem bound by simple cause and effect and without the capacity for uncertainty and ambiguity that is necessary for any real empathy with a character or even understanding of the world. But it will come (if it hasn't already come unbeknownst to this benighted, and generationally-challenged observer).

What makes me sure it will come is reading the comments thread on a site called game+girl=advance, which my wife happened upon (after reading neo-neocon on Paul Robeson. Yes, there is a connection.) It starts with someone named Justin bemoaning the lack of a game that features

a politically conscious person with a passion for current events and human justice, an informed view of struggle and history, sings with profound passion - a voice filled with quivering depth.
As a model, Justin had in mind Paul Robeson. Paul Robeson singing I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night. The thread sets off with the central issue, basically the one I was writing about above, but then someone called Brain From Arous spoils the fun. He quotes an article that Robeson wrote in 1953 on the death of, and in embarassingly-naive praise of, Joseph Stalin. It includes such gunk as this
Here was clearly a man who seemed to embrace all. So kindly - I can never forget that warm feeling of kindliness and also a feeling of sureness. Here was one who was wise and good - the world and especially the socialist world was fortunate indeed to have his daily guidance. I lifted high my son Pauli to wave to this world leader, and his leader. For Paul, Jr. had entered school in Moscow, in the land of the Soviets.
Poor little bugger.

The other commenters are off then with this theme and shake it and wring it out. It is truly a rich vein. I will post soon about a book that explores this very area - the use and abuse of Western intellectuals and their righteousness on the part of one of the bloodiest and most cynical tyrants in history. But enjoy the thread. Games and games players impress me more and more. (But I'll probably stick to books.)

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