We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Thoughts on video games

“The late Douglas Adams once said that any technology that exists when you are born is a normal part of the world; anything invented before you turn 35 is exciting and creative; and anything invented after you turn 35 is against the natural order of things . It’s not a new development: Socrates warned against learning to write, saying it would “create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories”.

Tom Chivers, knocking down some lazy assumptions about video games, an issue that sometimes comes up as a target by today’s puritans.

The subject gives me an excuse to re-recommend this book by Gerard Jones, now a few years’ old, that argues that a lot of video games, including violent ones, are a healthy thing for children to play.

8 comments to Thoughts on video games

  • Dave Walker

    I remember hearing DNA use that piece of insight as part of a keynote presentation he gave at a Sun Engineering conference, a few months before he died; up to the age of 35 it’s mostly true (there are some things, such as Microsoft Windows, which I concluded were abominations while in my late teens), but after 35 – well, I’m still of a mind that much new stuff coming along is good.

    Video games, though, are something I played quite a lot in my teens (getting to Elite twice, along the way), until I made the mental connection in my 20s between 1st-person narrative games and the rat in the proverbial maze. They’ve not appealed since, except in the Richard Stallman adage that “the world’s best computer game is called Unix”.

  • Tedd

    That would explain why Asteroids is still the only video game I enjoy. Anyone for a pin-ball match?

  • In between reading Samizdata, i mostly use my brand new 1.2 GHz dual core mobile phone for playing Amstar’s Phoenix, an arcade game written about the same time i was born, in MAME.
    Which probably means, by the terms of your OP, that i am officially an old duffer (before my time!).
    It’s HARD. No saves, no continues… these kids of today don’t know they are born…

  • Mendicant

    Space Harrier is IMHO the greatest video game ever.
    Virtua Fighter 5 is easily the best fighting game around, as deep as chess and exquisitely fluid.

    Generally, the Japanese make the most inventive and and fun games, only Japan could have created Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.
    Shenmue, Limbo, Portal, Minecraft, Phoenix Wright, Skies of Arcadia, Valkyria Chronicles, Revenge of Shinobi, Panzer Dragoon Saga, Ikaruga, Beyond Good & Evil, Super Mario Galaxy, Resident Evil Remake, Street Fighter II, Streets of Rage, Rez, Jet Set Radio.

    Call of Duty, the most boring game ever made, is lazy generic crap, and, like so many modern games, is laughably easy. The Japanese scrolling “bullet hell” shoot ’em ups are far superior to the brainless CoD and its imitators. Laughably easy games which consist entirely of grey corridors and hand-holding. I do sometimes think modern gamers are total pansies judging by how many checkpoints so many games have these days.

    Games like Jet Set Radio, Space Harrier, Revenge of Shinobi, Rez, and Limbo, raise gaming to an art form. The first person shooters are, by and large, trash.

  • Boobah

    Not really related to the topic, per se, but…

    “only Japan could have created…” followed by a list which includes games designed by Frenchmen (Beyond Good & Evil), a group of Redmond, Washington college students (Portal), Danes (Limbo), and a Swede (Minecraft).

    Clearly the Japanese have a monopoly on good game production.

  • Kirk Parker

    Anyone who has spent time living in a preliterate or largely-illiterate culture knows that Socrates was right about the effect of literacy on memory (though quite wrong of course about the cost-benefit ratio.)

  • Mendicant

    My list was a one of Japanese games, followed by a list of great games as a whole (due to lag the text was posted without the differential).

    IMHO The greatest game designer by far is the legendary Yu Suzuki, and he is Japanese.

    BTW Jet Set Radio’s long-awaited return is surely something to celebrate.