In the Telegraph last week, William Henderson first made it clear that “until recently, I’d never played a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. I’ve dabbled in Call of Duty on the Xbox, but that’s as far as it got.” Having gotten that out of the way, he then launched into a condemnation of the very games he admits he doesn’t play and has already explicitly admitted he knows very little about:
… I felt like Neo at the end of The Matrix when he sees the shimmering green code of the system, and finally realises the true nature of the prison for his mind.
I won’t name the game in question: there’s no need – so many of them feature similar ways of getting the gamer hooked. Is it cynical of me that I no longer view video games as a means of innocuous pleasure? Definitely. But that cynicism is entirely justified: it’s a reflection of the nature of video games today. As I’ve previously written about, games today tend to reward repetition rather than skill, and gone is the social element where guys would go round each other’s house and actually be in each other’s company. The more successful you want to be at video games nowadays, the more you need to be a hermit.
This is not to say that I begrudge gamers – everyone needs their downtime. However, the key word here is ‘success’. I’m tired of seeing capable, talented young men numb themselves out from the world in a cocoon of fake achievement. I’m tired of how their reward for completing utterly meaningless tasks is another load of worthless digital points – and more meaningless tasks. I’m tired of how the biological mechanisms which ensured their survival and evolutionary success are being hijacked to make them slaves to their own mind.
I rarely bother to read the comments on any site, but I was impressed with the quality of the comments here: