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Author Topic: Defending TV and PC games
rabble
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 283

posted 07 June 2001 11:35 AM      Profile for rabble        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Often in these threads I hear people lamenting how we spend too much time in front of our TVs and computers instead of getting outside more often.

Why?

It seems almost automatic to assume that being outside is not only better but something we all desire. It reminds me of those students who are complete technies, yet will automatically take an anti-technology stance when called upon to do an ISU.
It’s the "expected" view.

Just where did this romantic idea that a walk in the park is such a great activity come from? It certainly should be included among any well-balanced list of activities. (And yes, I regret using that last phrase.) But it doesn’t always have to be viewed as an *alternative* to TV and video games.

And certianly if you live near a big city, the whole "fresh air" argument is no longer valid.

(I was always amused by Woody Allen's bold and relatively original claim that the country was a drag; all it had were "insects and the Manson family.")

But before we become old farts lamenting the good old days, let's look at TV and video games without the stereotypes of couch potatoes and Columbine-killers-in-the-making:

You all know the story, but it deserves repeating: Theodore Sturgeon was asked why a good writer like himself wasted his time writing SF, since it was 90% crap. Sturgeon replied, "True, it’s 90% crap…but 90% of everything is crap."

At times, TV can rival movies with its moral complexity (Homicide), epic story lines (Babylon 5), frankness (Sex & The City), archaic humour (Monty Python), maturity (Sopranos), and satiric insights (Larry Sanders Show). And it can give the status quo a run for its money (Queer as Folk).

And if you think games are just a bunch of shoot-em-up Doom clones, try Civilization, Grim Fandango, Baldur's Gate, The Sims, or Twinsen's Odyssey. Some are charming, others imaginative and challenging. Some can even give your brain quite a fun workout.
(And if you want to just kill things, there's always Jedi Knight - remember: a light sabre is an elegant weapon for a more civilized age).

The fact is, most thought-provoking activities we engage in are inside activities anyway: movies, theatre, listening to music, art galleries, concerts, museums, lectures, reading (which I know can be done outside, but I'm willing to bet is usually done curled up in your favourite comfy chair).

Add watching TV and playing games to the list. Because they are relatively new, they get the same reaction that radio, movies, and rock music got when they were new: they'll corrupt society.

(Even Gutenberg was eyed with suspicion, his improvements being considered by some as a step in the wrong direction. But I didn't want to use that example, as it's a bit of a cop-out. We’re really only taking about the 20th century, since that is when leisure time became an industry. The fact is, our ancestors really didn’t have as much free time on their hands as we do.)

And if your reaction is, “I like to do all the above. And I do them in moderation. It’s those *other* morons we have to worry about”, remember those editors that I bet some of you have had to deal with:
“This is too controversial. Too edgy. Oh, sure, I know what you’re trying to say…but *others* won’t understand.”

No activity needs to be totally dismissed (except maybe bowling… ), especially in favour of another “back-to-basics” one. I’m sure most people on this site would agree: no matter ehat you do, the trick is always to be a careful shopper.

And if you feel you must demonize one medium, all I can say is relax.
Go take a walk in the park or something.
(Another smiley was supposed to go here, but I can't get it to work again.

Man, I hate irony...)

PS. Speaking of old farts: I like Neil Postman as much as the next person. In fact, I’m pretty sure I’ve read all of his books. But how often have you finished one of his essays and then realized he’d made his point without mentioning one single TV show. His points are not invalid because they lack specific examples; it’s just that sometimes he reminds me of those censors who aren’t familiar with the film or book they’re targetting.

[ June 07, 2001: Message edited by: Arkham ]


From: rabble | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Gayle
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 37

posted 07 June 2001 01:34 PM      Profile for Gayle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm one of the ones who's said something against tv and games, so I feel I must say something here.

Moderation IS key. It's not the media themselves, it's the complete abandonment of all other forms of entertainment that I worry about in kids these days. When I was little - and we're not talking a hundred years ago, I'm only 24 - we watched tv, we played on our bikes or in the snow. I read, but most of my friends didn't. In fact, none of them did, but that's a different story.

I have met people, however, who didn't grow up that way. They played video games INSTEAD of going outside. I dated a guy whose family had tvs in each bedroom, they had one of EVERY console system available, and the only time they went outside was to get to the car or to get in the pool. There were NO books in this house - and both his parents were teachers. It was very bizarre.

Anyway, my point is, these technologies are only harmful when they are embraced to the exclusion of all else. I know. I spent an entire summer indoors a few years back, playing online. My mom dubbed me the mole. I became really unhealthy, and vowed to never do it again.


From: Cape Breton, Nova Scotia | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Debra
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posted 07 June 2001 01:47 PM      Profile for Debra   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Certainly TV or video games used to the exclusion of else is unhealthy. However, I homeschool my children and have found all of these things to be very useful. Even the Simpsons can become a teaching tool when while watching they also have to consider what the motivation of a particular show was and what messages were put forth.(there are a surprising number of political messages in the show!)Many of the war games teach strategy and the Sims games teach numerous things. And really do what is wrong with occasionaly doing something that has absolutely no social or political import?
From: The only difference between graffiti & philosophy is the word fuck... | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Pimji
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Babbler # 228

posted 09 June 2001 02:57 AM      Profile for Pimji   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I love activities that have no redeeming value whatsoever. I believe the people who have posted here developed the ability to see that some activities are just mind and body candy.
Adults and young adults we need the ability to analyse critically. If adults can’t do it children surely will be left to just soak in mind numbing commercials, junk food, violent crass movies and computer games without question. To follow Arkhams thoughts, they will not be able to distinguish between the 90% of puerile garbage to be collected by the eyes and dumped into the brain and the other 10% that has value be it just plain old stimulation.
When I was in High school I hated gym class. Weight lifting, wrestling, track and field. I was skinny and weak and always came in last. To this day I still hate sports. I do love physical and mental activity. It doesn’t have to be prescribed by some jock on the TV. I’m 36 years old and I love to go outside and play, tinkering in the garage, doing house projects, gardening or bike riding. There are some awesome computer games too. I have had many a battle crawling around a dungeon taking on Diablo himself. I have built armies of Huns to attack the Goths in Age of Empires. For added comfort I got a reclining chair so I can sit in relaxed comfort in front of my computer for my computer game marathons.
Technology has given us amazing forms of entertainment. In a culture that is moving away from physical labour we start to see the diseases of the affluent. Heart disease and obesity, for example. The human body was did not evolve to be made to sit in one position for so long to eat high fat food, smoke cigarettes washed down with 10 cups of coffee and a litre of whiskey on the weekends. With the wonders of modern science we can hopefully produce a gene that will have a resistance to polyunsaturates, tar, UV radiation, smog and other assorted chemical by products. Can you say Olestra? That stuff would allow us to eat all the fat we want and not get obese or die from heart disease. I think it was the “anal leakage” warning that turned consumers off.
Fortunately for my brother and I we had parents who were able to teach us how to critically analyse our outside world.

From: South of Ottawa | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Tackaberry
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Babbler # 487

posted 09 June 2001 03:14 AM      Profile for Tackaberry   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I agree with Arkam, except about The Sims. that game freaks me out. A virtual life, with virtual jobs and virtual friends? that's not an entertaining escape, that's an alternate to life.
The Sims truly disturbs me. But the rest of what you said, that tv and video games are not intrinsicly bad or harmful to society or self I agree with.

From: Tokyo | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
rabble
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 283

posted 09 June 2001 09:14 AM      Profile for rabble        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Tackaberry - The Sims is completely overrated. I only threw it into the list because it's so popular right now. (I should have said SimCity.)

As you point out, it's a misguided attempt at entertainment.

I'm with Pimji on this. When I role-play, I want to be an Amazon hunting down Diablo or Saladin rallying the Saracens...not Fred from across the street.

(Interesting point: apparently, the average age of a PC gamer is somewhere in the late twenties. It's the consoles that tend to attract the younger crowd.
My point?
I have no idea...)


From: rabble | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Pimji
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Babbler # 228

posted 09 June 2001 10:11 AM      Profile for Pimji   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Actually my user name Pimji is my Diablo character name. I managed to get a level 52 Paladin in Diablo 2. Back in 1998, I think, is when Diablo came out. My other favs are, Heretic, Hexen, Heretic 2, Age of Empires and War Craft series. I find like games that involve strategy and are of the sword and sandal genera.
I 'm not into any computer games that involve guns. Americans love shoot ‘em ups. Each new doom style, first person shooter, is just the same as the next except that the graphics and audio get more realistic. They get boring very fast.
Our girls, ages 9 and 10, love the Sims. I however when I hear them say,”Hey! That’s just like the Sims!” I get a little worried and remind them to stop and think that “Hey! The Sims are just like that”. This pales in comparison to the shit that is produced on TV.
I can’t understand why American TV has to put sex in every family show. Its not a healthy variety I find. The show providence, which is pretty saccharine, really shoots itself in the foot by having the characters jumping in the sack with each other. We do have shows which are banned in our household. Censorship by parents is a must and the internet is off limits in our house without me at the key board. I’ll get into the Ontario School curriculum next. Turning children into little automatrons.

From: South of Ottawa | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
rabble
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 283

posted 09 June 2001 11:10 AM      Profile for rabble        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"My other favs are, Heretic, Hexen, Heretic 2, Age of Empires and War Craft series."

Sounds like you’d like the Might & Magic series and Dungeon Keeper.

"Americans love shoot ‘em ups. Each new doom style, first person shooter, is just the same as the next except that the graphics and audio get more realistic."

Doom was a classic, but after that, yes...it got tiresome. (I made an exception for Jedi Knight because of the light sabre. It was a clever addition to the first-person shooter genre.)

"I’ll get into the Ontario School curriculum next. Turning children into little automatrons."

As a teacher, I can tell you that you're dead on there. We've done such a thorough job on the students that even when I *tell* them they're being turned into nothing but unthinking consumers, they simply shrug. The only time they get agitated? If you point out that they’re paying companies to advertise for them via their clothes, or that they’re supportering sweatshops. Then they very passionately will defend Nike and Disney.

How the government must love the "products" we produce for them.


From: rabble | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Kearsley Schieder-Wethy
recent-rabble-rouser
Babbler # 250

posted 09 June 2001 11:14 AM      Profile for Kearsley Schieder-Wethy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ok, I'm going to back up a bit, past the
commentary on the Sims, to the pastoral
virtues of turning the television/computer
off and looking to the rest of the world.

I was raised sans electricity, running water
or telephone. In the middle of a forest.
I was homeschooled. This has both its
merits and flaws: the main merit being that
I still have an active imagination, that I
enjoy writing and sketching, and I have no
real attachment to my television.

On the other hand, actually dealing with the
modern world was a rather large challenge;
Going to school at age nine was fairly
traumatic for me, as I had no idea that the
outside world could be hierarchical, that
there could be malice.

So, I would suggest that the purest form of
removing one's self from media bombardment
(NB: we did have a radio, and did listen to
the CBC regularly.) has drawbacks, but
those are mostly related to being able to
return to society if and when you choose to
plug in again.


From: Peterborough | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Pimji
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 228

posted 10 June 2001 10:17 AM      Profile for Pimji   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Mike Harris made some blithe stupid comment a year ago stating that "we need more doers not more thinkers". He is none of the above.
Years ago a person managed to produce a thing called a transistor. I think he was Canadian. I might be wrong.
We now have micro processors that can preform trillions of complex mathimatical calculations per millisecond. If children are not given the education they need to freely think, feel and create ideas the tools we have developed become as useful as a bag of hammers. The downfall of the tech revoloution and industry, I would say, lays in part to a shortage of creativity. This also includes creative economics. A tool is a useless object unless someone has the thought process' to use it. Children who have not developed creative thought process' become stuck as adults when it comes time to solve problems and have to deal with complex issues that don't have single answers. Culture just becomes something you buy in a store. Free thinking is a scary thing to neo liberals who rely on a steady supply of drones to consume the constant supply of useless artifacts. This allows them to produce more of the same crap without having to come up with new ideas.
The attack on teachers only proves that the government has an agenda. They want them out of the way in order to indoctrinate the corporate centralized agenda. I doubt this is a calculated written plan but it appears that this is what we are getting from governments that are run like a bussiness. This idea of less government is like saying to hell with democracy and a public social agenda. We will let Nortel, Disney, CTV, AOL and the National Post provide the democracy.
I must take my soma now.

From: South of Ottawa | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Athena Dreaming
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Babbler # 435

posted 10 June 2001 11:49 AM      Profile for Athena Dreaming   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I've read in a few spots that schools have functioned since the beginning mostly as places where children learn to become good corporate slaves--I mean, workers. You must show up at such and such a time and remain at your desk until such and such, whether you have something to do or not. You must follow the orders of a teacher who has the power over your life to determine how far and in what direction you will go. Etc.

I was personally amazed at the number of folks even in last year University who could not think for themselves. They simply did waht the prof said and thought what the prof told them to think.

That said, I don't think that this is a problem of the TV/video game generation. I think this is just plain human--the drive to conform, to fit in, not to get stomped on, etc.

(I'm a Civ girl through and through--still working my way through Alpha Centauri and Alien Crossfire. For me I get addicted to one game and play all the way through to the end before I pick up another one. It's easier that way. )


From: GTA | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
rabble
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 283

posted 10 June 2001 12:33 PM      Profile for rabble        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think it's very telling (though not at all surprising) that Harris originally had planned to do away with the Media classes that some teachers had fought for in the ‘80s.

Guess Mike feels threatened by the next generation of voters being media-savvy.

(The great thing about Alpha Centauri and its ilk is that you compete against your last score. The replay value is much higher with these games.)


From: rabble | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged

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