Doug Kellner on 13 Nov 2000 21:41:35 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] smoking gun?

Hey everyone, Just got an article from TIMES of London that may be smoking
gun of US election=

Douglas Kellner
Graduate School of Education
Moore Hall Mailbox 951521
Los Angeles, CA 90095
Fax: 310 206-6293
Phone: 310 825-0977

----- Original Message -----
From: "Benjamin Geer" <>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, November 02, 2000 1:16 PM
Subject: <nettime> Video games and collective fears

> Yesterday, not having played any video games for many years, I downloaded
> the arcade game emulator, MAME, and the original ROMs of several games
> that I fondly remember playing in the U.S. in the early 1980s: Battlezone,
> Tempest, Joust, Xevious, Tron, Star Wars, Major Havoc.  It was eerie
> seeing and hearing them again.  After all those years, I still remembered
> details of the terrain in Xevious.  I felt as if I was 13 years old again.
> It struck me that my adolescence coincided with the advent of video games,
> and their early period of creative ingenuity using very limited
> technology.  I have mixed feelings about them.  They were a much-needed
> escape for teenagers who wanted desperately to get away from the real
> world, which we found cold and hostile.  That may be part of the reason
> why, although they're all war games, they're sufficiently abstract so that
> the violence isn't disturbing.  Perhaps this came back to haunt us during
> the Gulf War, when television showed us real bombings as if they were a
> video game.  At the same time, the early video games definitely fed on
> real anxiety and frustration.  Missile Command, from 1979, brings back
> vividly the everyday dread of nuclear war.  Video games, as computerised
> objects, offered us the opportunity to try to control, symbolically, the
> computer technology that were were afraid was going to control us.  The
> hint of political rebellion in the Star Wars game was tantalising: I
> remember my intense desire to belong to a "Rebel Force" (a mixture of
> medieval chivalry and a dash of proto-Marxism) and overthrow the
> establishment.  But playing all these games again, I was struck by the way
> they're all variations on the same theme: you're being attacked, your
> attackers get increasingly numerous and fierce, your anxiety increases
> because you're less and less able to fend them off, and finally you get
> killed.  That probably reflects pretty accurately how a lot of Americans
> felt about their relationship to the world in the 1980s: overwhelmed and
> unable to cope.  It also struck me that, in order to learn how to play
> these games, you have to die many times.  In Major Havoc, from 1984, you
> have to engage in a series of suicidal experiments in order to learn the
> exact procedure for getting through each level.  Of course, this was meant
> to get you to spend as much money as possible while playing.  But I think
> it also expresses a fear that we all had: whatever you do, something you
> can't anticipate will be lurking around the corner, and it will get you.
> The cards are stacked against you.  I suspect that this collective
> experience hasn't changed much in the past 20 years.  Even with the
> emulator, which lets me give myself as many lives as I want, I still feel
> the same anxiety.
> I stopped playing video games when they started to be about bloody
> hand-to-hand combat.  I couldn't relate to them anymore.  Did they start
> tapping into different emotions?  Or just express them differently?
> --
> Benjamin Geer
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