Confessions of an Aca-Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins

this echoes some of my thoughts exactly. video games as evil or bad, by their very nature, is more of a social convention than a truth. Kind of like the whole backlash against that other social-ill, the novel.

Confessions of an Aca-Fan: The Official Weblog of Henry Jenkins

Consider some of the following claims made against Pokemon:

“Not only does this repetitive practice blur the line between reality and fantasy…the child learns to accept unthinkable behavior as normal.”

“In order to master this game you need to take on characteristics of what you are playing.”

These arguments have a long, long history.

Theater Historian Jonas Barish documented the persistence of what he called “the anti-theatrical prejudice” from its early roots in the writings of Plato through to its absorption into Christianity at the hands of St. Augustine and down to the present day. Plato argued that actors were professional liars who, over time, came to believe their own lies. After decades of playing debased and amoral characters, they lost moral judgment. Actors were often associated with madness, delusion, and drunkenness. Theater was equally dangerous to spectators. The theater stirred up our emotions in response to imaginary events and thus dulled our sensitivities to things that really mattered. The exaggerated emotions of the stage were more memorable and seductive than the events of the mundane world. Shakespeare had to struggle against these fears (and the reform movements they inspired) in Elizabethan England just as Rockstar Games has to confront them today.

With games, the line between player and spectator blurs. The reformers warn that games are more harmful than television because kids enact anti-social behavior rather than simply witnessing it.

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