Columnist Calls Videogames "Close To Evil"

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Columnist Calls Videogames "Close To Evil"

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A new column in the National Post has leveled a broadside of criticism at videogames of all stripes, saying that while they are not intrinsically evil, "they are close."

Reported by GamePolitics, the article written by Father Raymond J. de Souza calls videogames a "black hole into which time disappears," and urges parents, "for the sake of all that is good and holy," not to buy them in any form for their children. De Souza calls upon his own experience with Tetris during his university years as the basis for the article.

"It would not be fair to blame my second-year troubles - my worst academic performance in 12 years of post-secondary education - on Tetris alone, but it was a contributing factor. My capacity to waste time with Tetris was prodigious; how many hours were lost is unknown," he wrote. Since deleting the game in 1991, "I have never played another videogame. It's too dangerous. Videogames take what is most precious - time and thought. And they are making kids fat."

"Did I mention that far too many videogames celebrate graphic violence, multifarious delinquency and borderline pornography?" he concludes. "I don't have to. Tetris had none of that, and it was deadly enough. This Christmas, do the poor kids of all economic levels a favor: Don't buy them videogames."

De Souza, a regular National Post columnist, is also a chaplain and teacher at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. His article, "Lessons Learned," is part of a serious of editorials illustrating the "one truth" various columnists wish they'd understood before setting out in life. The full column can be read here.

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Meh, it's the National Post... y'know, the newspaper started by convicted fraudster Conrad Black as a monument to his ego (before moving on to successfully purchase a Lordship) and because he felt he couldn't leave the national newspaper market in Canada to the Globe and Mail, whose dreadfully leftist policies leave it on the wrong side of the political axis from Ghenghis Khan.

More to the point, it's the paper that loudly proclaimed the Halo 3 "Believe" campaign to be a heinous insult to all veterans everywhere, last spring.

It's what they do. Just keep walking and don't make eye contact.

-- Steve

Ye a world without video games would be a world without fun or anything fun. That is like telling microsoft to stop selling 360 and sell barbie dolls.
i mean comeon if they just tried to play a game once maybe they would enjoy it.

Unfortunately, most newspapers in Canada are corrupt. After a while, theyre bound to get worse because the good writers all abandon them for foreign papers.

Somehow the idea that the same kind of thing probably went on with the advent of cinema and television. I sort of doubt this kind of thing will ultimately matter. Though we will see.

Wait, this guy got addicted to Tetris? Wow, major thickie alert.

Anyway, being part of a religious organization voids almost anything this guy can say (unless he wants to say he's weak willed and helplessly stupid), so take no notice.

Besides, I don't really see "1 wuz stuupid s0s donts play gamzes" as a good explanation for games being evil (and evil is subjective anyway).

haha i bet teh_guy was a right n00b ^^ rofl, bet he culdnt get past like 100 point on tetris lol o_O, he wasted his college years trying to get good but failed, i play games like loadz an i am doin fine at skl ^^

It's just sad. Ignore him, don't make eye contact, and keep walking.

What buddy doesn't seem to understand is that people will find ways to burn their time regardless. Nearly all actions are ultimately pointless in the grand scheme of things, but damn few people devote every living moment to the furtherance of our species. In short, STFU.

If any paper in Canada was going to publish this kind of thing, it'd be the Post. I'm not a fan of the paper, or its right-leaning ways, or of Conrad Black, but neither do I begrudge them (and him) the right to expound upon their views in a national forum. It's the political flip-side of the Asper media empire. What caught me a bit by surprise is the heavy-handedness of the article, the absoluteness of the guy's views. There's no room for compromise: Games are addictive, time-killing, mind-numbing, and they're making you fat. And I could be wrong about this, but I don't think even ol' Jackie-Boy has ever come out and all-but-said that games are evil.

Naturally the article has been generating loads of negative commentary on gaming sites, but I wonder if the article will attract much feedback through "conventional" channels, ie., letters to the editor. Be interesting to keep an eye on this one.

And on another note, Conrad Black may be convicted but I remain unconvinced that he's done anything wrong, or at least anything justifying six-and-a-half years in jail. I think he's an over-privileged ass as much as anyone, but I've yet to see where he's committed any crime greater than refusing to knuckle under to overzealous, blood-hungry American prosecutors.

Next, expect similar reports on Jigsaw puzzles and Rubik's cubes.

They're EVIL, EEEEEEVIL, I tell you!

J

Wow, Tetris. That's a new one. It must be that Tetris is too addictive, and not that you have poor self-control or anything.

Here's a wacky idea, chaps and chappettes. Someone introduce this guy to the joy of cigars. He should smoke himself into oblivion within a few days.

Wow. I live about an hour from Kingston. If I thought this guy was doing anything other than waving the anti-game flag for the purpose of free easy publicity I'd go and have a talk with him.

Hasn't played a game since Tetris but feels qualified to pass judgment on them. That's journalistic integrity and good Christian "cast out the beam" spirit right there. I wonder if he knows about the use of video games in church youth groups.

Meh, it is true that games kill time and parents should probably figure out how the fucking ESRB system works so people will shut up about kids with violent videogames, but i play games and have a sport, sides, his example is bullshit since plenty of gamers are nerds that do ridiculously well in school, take me for example, nerd and proud

Huh- you think if he had somehow got addicted to- lets say- Origami- would he be saying paper folding art was evil? -_-;

See, if he got addicted to porn, he'd just be called an ex-wanker and no one would take him seriously. They'd probably forget the "ex" part, too.

Ha! Ha! Ha!

Folks, if this stuff pisses you off, you can always do something about it.

Just sent this letter to the editor. Given what's being said about the publication above I doubt if they'll print it, but you all can enjoy it here. Or not, I suppose. :)


Dear Mr. Kelly,

I am a videogame designer from Clayton, New York -- just across the St Lawrence from Kingston -- and I am writing regarding Father Raymond De Souza's article referring to videogames as "the crack cocaine of the electronic world".

It is unfortunate for our modern society that uninformed opinions such as Father De Souza's should find a place in mainstream media outlets, but they often do. I hope that your newspaper is open-minded enough to allow my voice to be heard in response. I must first say that I found it particularly odd to read such a column in a Canadian publication, when Canada itself expresses a national interest in bringing videogame business into its economy, through recruitment and educational efforts at major game development conferences. I assure you that one rarely sees so large a national flag at these events.

I have been working in videogames for the last eight years, most recently on children's titles, including one that won an iParenting Media Award and another, out this January, that promotes social connection through friendship and the care of animals. Earlier this year I drafted a proposal for a handheld game to teach nutrition to kids aged 10-16. The proposal won the open storyboard section of the Games for Health Competition, an initiative of a consortium of medical professionals, researchers, and videogame developers that share the goal of making the world a better place through this new medium.

The motivational potential of interactive media is one now widely recognized by the medical profession and educators as one of the most powerful educational tools of our age. Games currently exist to educate children suffering from cancer on the importance of taking their medication, to help stroke victims recover motor control, and to demonstrate interactively the effects of the violent response to terrorism on local communities. We have come a long, long way since Tetris, which itself has been historically recommended by doctors to their older patients as a method of maintaining cognitive acuity to prevent Alzheimers. My grandparents have played it for over a decade for this reason.

When Father De Souza projects his heavily stereotyped and uninformed opinions he is dismissing and disenfranchising people like myself and my colleagues, who believe passionately in the positive potential of our art. I have in the past and likely will in the future work on games that depict violence, but I can assure you nowhere near the content or graphic nature of what you can see daily on evening television. Opinions such as Father De Souza's, so aggressively expressed and with pride in their ignorance, injure real people.

It has become popular for media outlets and politicians to attack my profession as though it were a single unit, individisble, that one videogame is the same as another, and that all are detrimental and dangerous to our youth. This practice of willful disinformation distances parents from their children and contributes to a culture of fear.

The proper response, as with so many things, is education. Parents should certainly educate themselves on the ESRB game system ratings, and TALK to their children about what they play and why. Games should be an opportunity for a child to connect with their parents, not an excuse to refrain from parenting. The fault, dear editor, is not in our stars, but in our selves.

I would recommend that parents, rather than depriving their children of entertainment and learning opportunities without research, seek out Common Sense Media or GamerDad.com when deciding on gifts for the holiday season. And for the record, I came into hardcore gaming while in college, and graduated with honors.

Thanks very much for your attention. I am happy to discuss this or other issues pertaining to videogames with anyone bearing an interest and an open mind.

Cordially,
Erin Hoffman
Clayton, NY

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Courtesy of the S.A.P.S.

MGG=REVIEWS:
Ye a world without video games would be a world without fun or anything fun. That is like telling microsoft to stop selling 360 and sell barbie dolls.
i mean comeon if they just tried to play a game once maybe they would enjoy it.

Barbies boarderline closer to pornography then video games do. The most pornographic I've seen a game was Mass Effect (I haven't seen those hot coffee GTA ones) and it was more artistic like a movie sex scene then porn.

ErinHoffman:
Folks, if this stuff pisses you off, you can always do something about it.

But I doubt many of us could do it as eloquently, or as cordially. If their editors do have an agenda, I imagine they would refuse to publish your letter on the basis that it makes you sound far too intelligent, and far too reasonable, to be the boogeyman they want you to be.

@Arbre: S.A.P.S? Qu'est-ce que c'est? Vas ist das?

Geoff, I appreciate the compliments (truly), but any letter with the ideas is better than none. It's time to get eloquent! FOR THE CHILDREN!! You have muckraker as your rank -- rake some muck!

We'll see what comes of the letter and what kind of response I get, if any. I can always escalate the situation. Never been any good at keeping my mouth shut.

Maybe he was addicted to dropping four-in-a-row blocks lengthwise in between two massive mounds of blocks on either side...

A priest speaking in absolutes? Surely not! This debate is the same as the piracy debate: there are only two sides offered, and neither side is right. The situation COULD be resolved and there could be mutual understanding (with the knowledgable gamers/makers doing most of the explaining), but I think we all know that won't happen.

Just as television destroyed the previous generation (apparently) so gaming is destroying the current. Before that it was music, or perhaps light novels. There's no way to win but to tough it out.

So what about the opposite approach?

Many people have an inclination to become addicted to various things. Its nothing special about videogames. So why not let our children learn to conquer addiction at an early age (thank you Starcraft) so that it is easier to beat later in life (take that WoW!)? Otherwise you end up with a bunch of college students who grew up in a bubble and now go nuts with videogames and maybe other addictions? If he had played pong as a youth, he maybe would have suffered in middle school and then had no problems at the college level. Its like how people who grew up with pets won't be as likely to have allergies. Get them vaccinated!

That's an excellent letter Erin, good for you.

Since I like to play devil's advocate, though, let me just throw this one out there: like many of you, games are probably my number one hobby. I work part-time in the industry and I am as passionate a defender of the medium as anyone out there. However, while I may not agree with the black-and-white rhetoric of Fr. de Souza's article, the padre has a point.

My freshman year of college was very nearly sucked whole into the vortex that was Doom and text-based MUDs. Those are somewhat more sophisticated games than Tetris, but my overall experience was similar to that of Fr. de Souza. Naturally, I don't blame games for my terrible academic performance that year, I blame myself for my lack of maturity and poor impulse control. Still, the fact remains: over the years, I've lost more productivity to games than any other single factor.

As has been suggested in this thread, if not games, would it have been some other obsession? Possibly. Any hobby can take that left turn into obsession under the proper circumstances, but I think most of us would agree that gaming is more prone to that sort of derailment than most other "respectable" pastimes. I think that if we can avoid couching it in the sort of good-vs-evil loaded language that is used in the article, this could be a useful topic of discussion to have with parents who may be non-gamers.

PurpleRain:

MGG=REVIEWS:
Ye a world without video games would be a world without fun or anything fun. That is like telling microsoft to stop selling 360 and sell barbie dolls.
i mean comeon if they just tried to play a game once maybe they would enjoy it.

Barbies boarderline closer to pornography then video games do. The most pornographic I've seen a game was Mass Effect (I haven't seen those hot coffee GTA ones) and it was more artistic like a movie sex scene then porn.

Regardless of all the crap that journalist was spewing, I'm pretty sure we can agree that pornographic tetris would be the greatest contribution to society since the Commodore 64.

Ros Lai:

PurpleRain:

MGG=REVIEWS:
Ye a world without video games would be a world without fun or anything fun. That is like telling microsoft to stop selling 360 and sell barbie dolls.
i mean comeon if they just tried to play a game once maybe they would enjoy it.

Barbies boarderline closer to pornography then video games do. The most pornographic I've seen a game was Mass Effect (I haven't seen those hot coffee GTA ones) and it was more artistic like a movie sex scene then porn.

Regardless of all the crap that journalist was spewing, I'm pretty sure we can agree that pornographic tetris would be the greatest contribution to society since the Commodore 64.

I'd be surprised if the internet hasn't spawned half a million of those yet ^^

Dectilon:

Ros Lai:

PurpleRain:

MGG=REVIEWS:
Ye a world without video games would be a world without fun or anything fun. That is like telling microsoft to stop selling 360 and sell barbie dolls.
i mean comeon if they just tried to play a game once maybe they would enjoy it.

Barbies boarderline closer to pornography then video games do. The most pornographic I've seen a game was Mass Effect (I haven't seen those hot coffee GTA ones) and it was more artistic like a movie sex scene then porn.

Regardless of all the crap that journalist was spewing, I'm pretty sure we can agree that pornographic tetris would be the greatest contribution to society since the Commodore 64.

I'd be surprised if the internet hasn't spawned half a million of those yet ^^

Meh, tetris bores me. How about Strip-Bioshock or Strip-HalfLife instead. Now that I could enjoy.

My daughter is addicted to reading books and I'm starting to get concerned. When she's reading, she completely zones out and I can barely get her attention. It's like she's in another world. It's not until I put my hand in the way of the book that I can get her attention. It's a compulsion that lasts all day. She gets upset when she has to stop. If I leave her alone for even a minute, the next thing I know she's reading again. I'm concerned that she's losing touch with reality because she spends so little time in the real world.

Where to start? Well, how about the fact that organized religion is responsible for more nasty stuff in the world than I care to list here. Let's just say from the Inquisition to the Boston Archdiocese, these guys credibility to call other folks evil is pretty much zero. Then there is the other fact that this fellow's whole article is based on his own addictive personality - ie. he couldn't trust himself not to play Tetris. Love it when somebody with that kind of credibility wants to give me advice.

Hey, hey hey! You are all jumping the gun here! This is all obviously some form of creative satire. Like Jack Thompson's comedy act! Or Fred Phelps. Well done! Very, very well done indeed!

Nordstrom:
My daughter is addicted to reading books and I'm starting to get concerned. When she's reading, she completely zones out and I can barely get her attention. It's like she's in another world. It's not until I put my hand in the way of the book that I can get her attention. It's a compulsion that lasts all day. She gets upset when she has to stop. If I leave her alone for even a minute, the next thing I know she's reading again. I'm concerned that she's losing touch with reality because she spends so little time in the real world.

So. She's reading, she learning. There's nothing wrong with her escaping into a book.

Geoffrey42:
@Arbre: S.A.P.S? Qu'est-ce que c'est? Vas ist das?

Society Against Playstation

^_^

Makes the content just all the more sweet.

PurpleRain:

Nordstrom:
My daughter is addicted to reading books and I'm starting to get concerned. When she's reading, she completely zones out and I can barely get her attention. It's like she's in another world. It's not until I put my hand in the way of the book that I can get her attention. It's a compulsion that lasts all day. She gets upset when she has to stop. If I leave her alone for even a minute, the next thing I know she's reading again. I'm concerned that she's losing touch with reality because she spends so little time in the real world.

So. She's reading, she learning. There's nothing wrong with her escaping into a book.

All I'm saying is that video games aren't the only "addicting" activity out there. There are well accepted activities, such as reading books, that aren't frowned upon. How many hours are wasted reading books that could be used for something productive?

EDIT:
Now that I've read the article, I see that it's an opinion piece, so no one is obligated to take him seriously. His biggest complaint is that video games are a waste of time. He doesn't say that video games rot the brain or turn people into criminals. He even distributed a donated Xbox to family in need. He was reluctant about it but he did it. While his language is hyperbolic, the actual content of his complaint is mundane.

Well, maybe it's an opinion piece, but i do see something that he stated more as fact in this article.

"This Christmas, do the poor kids of all economic levels a favor: Don't buy them videogames."

Hmm, i might be wrong then.

Anyway, he's on of those misinformed idiots that want free votes(or something). So, nothing new i guess.

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