The United Nations of Gaming
by gringoluke

Video games are the key to world peace.

Sure, a lot can be said for commodity-specific sanctions, for a new era of conciliatory diplomacy, for movements toward a nuclear-free world, but when it comes down to it I'm pretty sure that everyone would be better off if Obama and Ahmadinejad just bought an Xbox and played
Call of Duty all night.

I've had a love/hate relationship with video games ever since a young age. Like so many other boys growing up in an era when internet speed was still measured in kilobytes, I was brought up on a nutritious diet of
Mario Kart and 1080° Snowboarding. It was during those Nintendo 64 salad days that I learned of the powerful fraternity that video games have the power to culture between friends. While the sun beamed down outside on empty streets and sprinklers trickled unharrassed by leaping children, we sat in living rooms and grew blisters on our thumbs. Anybody who calls that a misspent youth obviously never played Goldeneye with three of their closest friends and an endless supply of pizza bagels.

The trick is to treat video games as a healthy, social experience. Sure, jogging is healthy and may give you clog-free arteries, but can you do it at 3 o'clock in the morning in your underwear while exchanging yo mama jokes with an 11 year-old from Amsterdam? There are some social experiences so bizarre that there's no way to experience them without a Playstation controller, wireless internet and— when playing online with those 11 year-olds—a particularly thick skin.

What I love most about video games is their ubiquity. Like
Family Guy quotes and Anchorman references, video games have become a universal code spoken and understood by swathes of young men throughout the Western world. I've seen perfect strangers fumbling along through awkward living room conversation one minute, then swearing enthusiastically at each other over a controversial Pro Evolution Soccer goal the next. Honestly, I think it's magical, and this is where Obama and the Axis of Evil could learn a lesson or two.

Alright, I'm not going to lie. Video games are not some sort of social instrument destined to pave the way to a brave new world. Addiction is a serious problem, and I think a lot of parents don't really realise it. It's become so serious that in April the South Korean government was
forced to ban online gaming after midnight. While spotty teenagers and video game execs will enthusiastically point to tests that suggest Grand Theft Auto will gradually grant you the hand-eye coordination of a neurosurgeon, we all know that you're more likely to end up with a headache and a guilty conscious for all the digital pedestrians you mowed down. Video games can be expensive, time-consuming and unhealthy. A little bit like heroin.

I'm not invincible myself, and sometimes as the hours drag by and the plastic from the controller starts to fuse into my skin I force myself to watch this video to give me the strength to hit that 'off' switch.

This is what your nine year-old is going to look like if you let him dabble too long in the nefarious art of video games. I know it looked like he smiled at the start but I'm pretty sure that was just a short-lived Xbox-induced high.

In the end though, if you can pace yourself then video games really can be a lot of harmless fun, and with the gaming industry now considered worth a staggering USD$22 billion it's fairly likely they'll be around to stay for a lot longer.

Whether or not President Obama plans to adopt them in his latest attempts to stop Iran from going nuclear is still undecided, but I wouldn't be surprised. Just be careful next time you take a shot at 'BIN_LADEN_SUX_44'. I don't expect the secret-service would appreciate you pwning their president.

Photo credit: http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/tom-keating/images/pong.jpg

1 comment:

  1. 'Sure, jogging is healthy and may give you clog-free arteries, but can you do it at 3 o'clock in the morning in your underwear while exchanging yo mama jokes with an 11 year-old from Amsterdam?'

    - This sentence is inspired, cool blog!