Worth a Look

Worth a Look

It’s weird to think about, but video games didn’t officially become protected expressions of free speech until a 2011 Supreme Court case judged it so. I think what adds to the surrealism of that realization is how prevalent video games were as a topic of discussion in popular discourse leading up to that decision. Violent video games and their effects on children through to “hot coffee,” Grand Theft Auto, and the mercifully forgotten Jack Thompson were just bookends on a narrative full of ups and downs. According to Patrick Klepek’s article, however, the fight had been waged in the court system long before the Supreme Court ever got their hands on it.

Source: Waypoint
Source: Waypoint

By 2011, the video game scene was pretty much United States-centric as an industry with developers such as Rockstar being brought under the microscope to search for corroborating evidence that they were as bad as Camel using cartoons to sell cigarettes to children. In 1993, however, Nintendo was king. And, despite their stateside headquarters in Seattle (and, for a long time, a majority stake in the Mariners), it was very much a Japanese company. That’s why Klepek’s overview and interview of how Nintendo went under the gun to defend video games is well worth the read through, because I wonder if they would be as hearty today. Part of me thinks Nintendo would be excused simply because it’s a multigenerational institution at this point, and our culture is comfortable with its presence and practices (I think of John Denver being called in front of the PMRC in the mid-1980s to defend against censorship in music). However, another part of me wonders if they’d be excused because the company has become so divorced from modern gaming that it’s not even in the conversation for many people.

Either way, the company went to bat for the industry at a critical time, and Klepek’s interview and overview should be read and supported by all gamers. Also, a big welcome to Waypoint, the official gaming wing of Vice. They headhunted Austin Walker away from my favorite gaming site, Giant Bomb, to become editor-in-chief, and as sad as I was to hear that he was leaving, as soon as they said Vice had sniped him, it made total and complete sense. They already have a lot of thoughtful critical articles up at Waypoint, and I suggest you check it out regularly.

Worth a Listen:

This is the last I’ll mention it, possibly, but the recent election left a lot of people scratching their heads (as well as angry, horrified, and dreadful, for a variety of reasons). The last place I thought I’d find any decent, rational conversation about it would be a podcast associated with the humor website and listicle factory, Cracked. Editor-in-Chief, Jack O’Brien, sits down with Cracked.com‘s executive editor of humor and well-informed dude, Jason Pargin (aka David Wong), who wrote a widely-circulated article post-election titled, “Don’t Panic.”

source: Earwolf

While I will not say that what is discussed in this podcast is gospel and should be fully obeyed, they go out of their way to be as inclusive as possible while doing their best to recognize their own privilege and points of view. That said, it’s a great starting point for conversation about the election and what progressively-minded people can do in its aftermath.

Most importantly, I never thought I’d be pointing toward anything that had to do with Cracked. It was brought to my attention by friend of the show, Walter, and I thank him for doing so. I’d have to listen to the episode again to assess how much of it is simply two white guys calming each other down in the face of an open nativist being elected into office or if it actually has some salient points. At the very least, none of the topics or points of view are radical in the episode and serve as an excellent start to a conversation that we all could use to help balance the discourse and get people to start listening to each other rather than just yelling (though I’m not disparaging the yelling, either; sigh. It’s a complicated issue).

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