53: The New Gaming Society

"The newly mobile class has human needs. One of those is entertainment, and rising from the Wal-Marts, rest stops and automobiles is a booming culture of the arts." In The New Gaming Society Shannon Drakes takes a nostalgic look back to the future at the return of the "Sneakernet."

The New Gaming Society

I've noticed that in the past, we've had alot of permanent, big things, but now we're depending on much more numerous, smaller, and more mobile things to get the job done. We don't have big armies marching all over the place now, we have special forces and squads. We don't have big clunky phones, we have cell phones. We've got smaller private corporations going up. Same goes for entertainment I suppose.

I didn't get the whole class thing. Here in the UK I don't think the proportions of classes are changing much, and it's not really about money either. You can be working class with Sky, a widescreen telly and a PS2 or whatever.

I also thought it sounded a crap future. The games were not innovative but dull and simple, mashing together gone before formulae. I like Grid Wars and Mucade, but if all games were that simple it'd be rubbish. I don't like arcade games much, or fighting games, or platformers.

Personally out of the futures here this is the one I understand the least, and cannot imagine as reality.

An interesting bit of speculative fiction, but I have to wonder - what happens to the Internet in all this?

Bob-I don't think you have the same issues facing the middle class in the US (yet), which might be why it didn't make much sense to you. In writing this, I had to balance between going on endlessly to set up the premise (which I would've done, trust me, but no one would want to read it, not even me) and getting into the meat of the article. I probably could have explained a bit better, however, I tried to write it like an Escapist piece would look in 2020, and thus hinted at plenty of documentation past to say "You're all tired of reading about this, you know what happened, so let's go," as I would if I was writing about something people were sick of hearing about today.

Bongo-I assumed the Internet would largely exist in its present form, but neatly dodged "Why don't they use the Internet?" by keeping universal wireless blocked by the huge telecoms (much as it is today) and assuming it's hard to find a good wireless connection when you're sleeping at a rest stop. Basically, I assumed a stagnation in just about everything as the middle class workers quit spending money and didn't have time to innovate, since they were only working for a week or two at a time.

Interestingly enough, This came up in the New York Times today:

Kelly Frances Cook is an editorial assistant, Ivy League graduate, aspiring writer - the kind of new arrival who has long been important to the life of New York City. Young, educated and hailing from elsewhere, newcomers like Ms. Cook have historically stoked the city's intellectual and creative fires. But, these days, how do they afford a place to live?

Ms. Cook, age 24 and from Ohio, at first could afford only a rented room in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., for $650 a month. Then she embarked on the archetypal, hair-raising New York City apartment search: feckless would-be roommates, outlandish financial demands, an offer of a room in a building with a bullet-pocked lobby.

Then she saw an ad on Craigslist for space in a 60-unit building in Harlem described as full of young professionals. The price was right; the woman on the phone was friendly. Back in Ohio, Ms. Cook's mother had begun to think like a New Yorker: "Yeah, right, Kelly. She's probably some mass murderer. I don't trust her. She's too nice."

This month, Ms. Cook is moving in. The woman on the phone, Karen Falcon (not a mass murderer), calls the building "a dorm for adults." It is a community of the overeducated and underpaid.

There is nothing new about having roommates in New York City. What Ms. Falcon has invented is a full-service dorm, full of strangers she has brought together to share big apartments as a way to keep housing costs down. Her approach is a homegrown response to the soaring rents bedeviling desirable cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Ms. Falcon, an informal agent for the building's owner, says she has placed nearly 150 young people there and in two other buildings in the neighborhood in recent years. A gregarious Californian with rainbow-colored braids, she pieces together roommate groups like puzzles. Each tenant ends up paying $700 to $1,200 a month.

And later on:

"Everyone talks about free-market solutions," he said, speaking of the city's shortage of lower-priced housing. "But the solution now is the rich get richer and for everyone else it's the equivalent of being a sharecropper in the city. I've been working five or six years now, trying to save up and buy something. Every time I get closer, the goal moves farther away."

"Everyone talks about free-market solutions," he said, speaking of the city's shortage of lower-priced housing. "But the solution now is the rich get richer and for everyone else it's the equivalent of being a sharecropper in the city. I've been working five or six years now, trying to save up and buy something. Every time I get closer, the goal moves farther away."

I'd disagree with that assertion - what is this group housing thing, if not itself a free-market solution?

It is a free-market solution, but it only solves his immediate problem: finding a place to sleep. His assertion still stands, though. Paying what he is for what he has only hurts him and helps the people providing him with the roof over his head.

It's the common problem of renting vs. owning. You don't get ahead when you rent. But he's stuck doing that for any number of reasons, not the least of which being the fact baby boomers are clogging the workplace because they can't afford to retire, which, you guessed it, is a free-market problem.

Joe... come back to the House of Capitalism. Ayn and I miss you.

Seriously: Using the difficulty of buying housing in New York as an example of a "free market failure" is like using the price of Ferrari Enzos as an argument that today's middle class can't afford a car. Housing is expensive in Manhattan because supply is limited while demand is unlimited. Nobody "has" to live in Manhattan unless you're in Broadway or Wall Street, and in both cases, you know what you're getting in to.

As for the baby boomers, I agree with you that there are generational issues at hand, but I'd put a lot more weight on medicare/social security burdens that are going to fall on your generation than any concerns of Baby Boomers "clogging" the workplace. Or, put another way, you're a hell of a lot better off with them still working then you'll be when they all retire and you get to pay for it.

To be fair, not even Wall Streeters need to live in Manhattan. That's what New Jersey is for.

And the Broadway folk are all hippie-communists like Joe, so ... yeah. I say wall off the whole island and use it as a prison.

All the more Reason to move to Canada or the West Coast... Although, from Fletchers description I might like Broadway.


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