The Needles

The Needles
Step Away From The Controller

Andy Chalk | 28 Jul 2009 21:00
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The Entertainment Consumers Association is making noise about Obama's remarks; the consumers group wants its members to take part in an email campaign to tell the President about "some of the ways that video games can empower and educate, as well as build teamwork and make people healthier." It sounds perfectly reasonable. It's also a completely wrong approach. Sure, there are games like Wii Fit and Dance Dance Revolution that encourage or require some kind of physical activity, but they're by far the exception, not the rule. Countering the argument that gaming turns people into mush-brained fatties by claiming that it's actually an inherently healthy activity does nothing but make it look like we've got something to hide. It's deceptive.

We're not going to untangle a deeply-rooted cultural malaise with a revival of "just say no," but the industry would be well advised to change its current course and embrace the President's message. Instead of fighting for our reputations as twitchy, pasty-faced obsessives with iron thumbs and stunted social skills, we should take the opportunity to encourage responsible gaming among parents and children alike. Not because the President told us to, but out of enlightened self-interest; it's great PR, provides a solid talking point about how the game industry is yet again ahead of other entertainment media and further encourages the acceptance and growth of the gamer demographic, which ultimately translates into more people putting more money into the industry's pockets.

Videogames are fantastic but, like most things in life, moderation is key. So take a break now and then, and do something else. Read a book, or pick up an instrument, or take a cooking course, or learn how to talk to girls. If you have kids, instill in them a healthy love of gaming but also a healthy love of good books, beautiful sunsets and the elegance of high-level mathematics. Teach them to swim or send them to a movie. Make sure they do their homework. Help them with it, unless you're just going to make things worse. If nothing else, tell them to put the damn controller down and go outside to play.

Fresh air and sunshine. It's really not as bad as it sounds.

Andy Chalk spent last weekend sleeping in a tent on the shores of Lake Erie, and it was awesome.

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