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Part One: Up, Up, Down, Down

JonKatz posted more than 13 years ago | from the gaming-and-the-playful-world- dept.

Technology 333

The pace of cultural change in the western world has accelerated so rapidly that it's reached the breaking point, according to the late anthropologist Margaret Mead. And that was before the Net, and the ascent of role playing and electronic gaming. No longer a subculture, gaming is becoming our ascendant culture, growing more than any other cultural form, sparking a moral panic and affecting the way people think, play, learn, communicate and work. First in a series.

"The future of technology is about shifting to what people like to do, and that's entertainment...I'm telling you: all the money and the energy in this country will eventually be devoted to doing things with your mind and your time." --- AI pioneer Marvin Minsky.

Up, Up,

Down, Down,

Left Right, Left Right, BA Start.

Recite this combination to millions of younger Americans, especially males, and it's like a secret handshake: the cheat code for Contra and other games for the original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Most will know that for two-player mode you insert "select." Recite the same sequence to most older people, and they'll think you're mentally ill. But the beautiful thing, e-mails James Sumner of Yale, "is that all I have to do is start "up, up, down, down ..." and any male my age will finish it."

"I would recognize it anywhere, instantly..." one gamer e-mailed me when I sent him the sequence. "Until my dying breath ...It's a cheat, that you use to get 30 lives instead of 3 ... You press that combo while the intro screen is sliding by, then start the game and you get 30 lives ..."

Another answered this way: "Sure, I know it, it's a reflex, a neuron. My parents still think gaming is a weird hobby. But for me, it's a way of thinking, a password."

In his remarkable new book Playful World, Mark Pesce reminds us of Mead's observation about the pace of change in the Western world.

In earlier times, Mead had written, elders could educate the young in their traditions and wisdoms, passing along important lessons that would serve the youngsters well.

In the past generation, though, cultural development -- centered around new forms of popular culture, mostly involving computers, has so intensified that the generational transmission of values has become even more outmoded, increasingly irrelevant. What's evolved is perhaps the widest gap --informational, cultural and factual -- between the young and the old in human history. In many ways, gaming is at the center of this chasm.

Adults still insist they have lessons to teach the next generation. But the young have come to believe, with increasing justification, that their elders know much less than they do, and have little worth passing along. All they have to offer are boring and outmoded educational systems, political structures that no longer work, and exhausted forms of fading, sacrosanct, heavily subsidized "culture."

Obviously many older people do have useful things to pass along, especially their experiences with life and their accumulated perspectives. But there are also cultural and technological advances, more all the time, that they simply can't grasp. It often seems that only adolescents really have the time, instincts and motor skills to grasp the mechanics of cutting-edge gaming, programming and other digital technologies.

This chasm first opened on the cultural front, with the evolution of distinctly youth-centered entertainment forms like hip-hop, rock 'n' roll and then Nintendo and Sega; it's widened as gaming has expanded beyond its subculture status. Gaming isn't just a hobby any longer. In fact, it needs a new label, something like VI -- Virtual Imagination. Well on the way to being culture itself , gaming has all sorts of implications for education, work and politics.

Gaming has exploded in the past few years until, according to Steven Poole's book Trigger Happy, videogame sales now equal movie ticket receipts. Sales of game consoles and software in the United States will top $17 billion a year by 2003 (the music industry, by comparison, reported revenues of $15 billion last year).

The average American child plays videogames forty-nine minutes a day, but games are no longer the province of kids; 61 per cent of videogamers are eighteen or older, and more than a quarter are over thirty-six. Videogames are no longer bounded by gender, either: players are evenly divided between men and women.

This revolution has spawned its own vast, diverse and complicated media culture -- gamespy.com, avault.com, gamespot.com, ign.com, ugo.com. These sites teem with games and reviews, from programmers, writers, artists and designers. Media sites like Myvideogame.com and gamecritics.com report on story lines and offer essays on the creative shortcomings of game programmers.

Newer sites like Joystick101.org are gaming weblogs; they fuse gaming with individual stories. Recently, that site ran stories about a player named Sheyla who faked her death in a ploy for sympathy from the Everquest community; the stories linked to a story about the kind of gaming work ethic that prompted a Starcraft programmer to bring his laptop to the hospital birth of his daughter. Ign.com covers Quake III like MSNBC covered the presidential election. Academics all over the country are using the Sim games to teach urban planning and financial and social interaction.

And eBay now routinely auctions off characters and property from games like Ultima Online to newbies who don't want to spend years developing their own characters. The gaming industry employs thousands of writers, artists, producers, animators, filmmakers designers and programmers.

Virtual characters are now sometimes worth thousands of dollars, something inconceivable outside of Hollywood just a few years ago.

No other form of culture is ascending as rapidly. Compared to gaming, traditional kinds of culture -- some elements of book publishing, opera and classical music, dance, appear declining and endangered.


Next: Gaming and Moral Panic.

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The most depressing sentence in the language... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#591054)

I used to agree with Auberon Waugh that it was "Red or White?". But now I know different - It's Jon Katz with "First in a series"

Re:Not just in Contra... (1)

Mr. Piccolo (18045) | more than 13 years ago | (#591082)

Gradius III is sneaky because the code does work... if instead of "Left Right Left Right" you use "L R L R".

Or something like that.

So these cheat codes are fun for people? (1)

dmorin (25609) | more than 13 years ago | (#591084)

One time, while playing pool all by myself, I picked up the balls and put them in the pockets so I'd win. Woohoo! That was some real fun there, I tell ya. I really can say I achieved something.

I can't say I understand the appeal. I mean, easter eggs for stuff that wouldn't otherwise be in the game (secret areas, new characters, etc...) that's cool. But cheats to simply make the game easier to beat? I guess I just don't get it. "I was playing the game for 3 hours every day and it rocked! Then somebody showed me this cool cheat and I beat it in an hour! Now I....well...now I don't have anything to play anymore, and I'm bored."

Re:Contra (1)

Smallest (26153) | more than 13 years ago | (#591086)

no. but you may be one of many people who didn't read the article but felt they had to respond anyway.

Re:Contra (1)

Binestar (28861) | more than 13 years ago | (#591088)

...original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Most will know that for two-player mode you insert "select." Recite the same sequence to most...

Read the whole article...

Amazingly Silly (1)

umeshunni (37684) | more than 13 years ago | (#591096)

This article is an utter piece of shit! It is too premature and far too much of an exagerration to say that our culture is doomed to failure just because a miniscule section of kids spend a few hours a day playin some silly game, after which they, just like other kids, go out and play ball or go do homework or watch movies or whatever it is that kids their age do.

Man.... you forgot (1)

FeeDBaCK (42286) | more than 13 years ago | (#591098)

Super Contra of course.... R-Type... etc etc etc...

For once Katz doesn't sound like he is going out on a limb for an article. I am sure we all could comment on the great "good ol' days" of the NES and Genesis.

Games are one of the things that truly pushes the consumer PC market. Why do we need cards like the GeForce 2 Ultra? Because id made Q3...

Games have been a way of life for many people, and have also been many people's introduction to computers. Want some more hardcore oldschool goodness? Check out this [glideunderground.com] review of the Pentium 200 at Glide Underground.

actually (1)

Clay Mitchell (43630) | more than 13 years ago | (#591101)

First thing that came to my mind was the cheat code for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 for NES. Guess I was wrong :(

I never did cheat, much.

What a monoculture! (1)

cshotton (46965) | more than 13 years ago | (#591102)

This is an amazingly narrow vision of life in a technology culture. To think that the worlds' view of technology is even remotely affected by some pimply kids twitching and flicking themselves into early carpal tunnel syndrome in front of a TV is absurd.

So? (1)

mr100percent (57156) | more than 13 years ago | (#591105)

Yes, games are becoming a huge market, but they're not one of the most profitable industries, thought thery are one of the coolest(Yes, I like John Carmack's awesome work).

But nobody really mentioned the people who play too long. My mother always said to get some fresh air, after playing Starcraft until I literallly couldn't see straight. I still playe 3d games like quake and elite force, but this article doesn't mention the people I know who play N64 Zelda frrom start to finish, instead of working on the research paper.

Re:Not just in Contra... (1)

damaged (60781) | more than 13 years ago | (#591106)

Don't forget Ikari Warriors for the NES... infinite continues.

Re:Contra (1)

dougmc (70836) | more than 13 years ago | (#591112)

It did *say* it was the cheat code for Contra, so you don't have to think of it yourself :)

Personally, I remember Contra, but never heard of that cheat code. Oh well.

On an unrelated note -

The average American child plays videogames forty-nine minutes a day, but games are no longer the province of kids; 61 per cent of videogamers are eighteen or older, and more than a quarter are over thirty-six. Videogames are no longer bounded by gender, either: players are evenly divided between men and women.
I'm 31. I play computer games. I know lots of people who play computer and video games, young and old (like me.) And the vast majority are guys. There's no way in hell that the `players are evenly divided between men and women' unless you consider everybody who has started Solitaire at least once in the last decade as a `video game player'. The vast majority of the serious gamers I know are guys, at least 80%.

Re:Contra (1)

Tortolia (73062) | more than 13 years ago | (#591119)

If that hadn't actually been a focus of the article, I would have posted the rest of the code myself...

the previous generation ... (1)

rbolkey (74093) | more than 13 years ago | (#591120)

I don't know, but adolescents aren't any better with new technology than adults. It's more a difference in mindset than in age when it comes to using technology and information. To think that "gamers" are somehow culturally more evolved or something is simply naive. Hours of entertainment does not a better information consumer make.

Generation Gap (1)

TheSquareRoom (79053) | more than 13 years ago | (#591123)

I've seen this before. This idea was all over the place back in the 1960s, stated in virtually the same way. Then, the disruptive technology was television. It was reprogramming the kiddies' brains in strange new ways and creating a mutant generation with thought processes incomprehensible to anyone born before 1945. Said generation was going to create either Utopia or Chaos.

Just see what we got. And Mead's name was being tossed around like you wouldn't believe. If Coming of Age had been written in 1910 the same thing would said the same thing about radio.

Lagging Behind Japan (1)

Puk (80503) | more than 13 years ago | (#591126)

Usually I'm (nearly) as blind to the rest of the world as the average American, but it seems like this is a very US-centric description. I'm heavily into a certain subset of games, and what I've noticed (and has been the subject of many debates) is that in Japan, they take these games (or at least another subset of them) _way_ more seriously than we do.

Keep in mind, this is all anecdotal, but video games have been a strong part of culture in Japan for quite a while. It's not even so much that kids play more games in Japan, but that games are more accepted by the culture in general (including parents, teachers, and the like) as a valid time-consuming hobbie to persue.

In addition -- possibly because this has been going on so long there -- adults play games, too. Lots more games than they do here. I suspect we're going to see more and more of this in the US, as those who grew up playing video games is now in or entering adulthood.

Mmmm, now we're lagging behind Japan culturally.

p.s. This probably applies to a lot of places, but I have no experience with them. :)

records, mountain bikes, extreme sports, now vids. (1)

Maeryk (87865) | more than 13 years ago | (#591131)

That he has not clue one about culture, life, or much of anything actually. You say "up down up down left right" to me and I'm going to think you are some kind of line dancing idiot. And I'm "any male his age"..

ARGHH! Will someone get JonKatz a *REAL* job? PLEASE? Let him see what it is actually like in the world?

To keep this on topic: 10 years ago he would have been saying exactly the same thing about records.. remember the panic about record labeling, etc? And in 10 years it will be something totally different.. I am very leary of "more than any other thing in today's society.." If anything, Video Games are less important that TV.. look at MTV's influence on the elections.. and on voter registration.. look at how many people use Leno and Letterman monologues to interpret the news. Hell, look at most (not all) people my age.. (late twenties) and realize that they have the attention spans of gnats, and run like sheep to the hottest new thing, without thinking for a moment *WHY* they are doing it! Video games are pervasive right now only because they are "hip" and they are a tool to prove your superiority.. "I have a PS/2, you only have Dreamcast, loser".. its like those stupid razor scooters people are buying in droves, and 4000 dollar mountain bikes two years ago.. its a fad, its a status symbol, and it's instant chic.. and not much else.

thats my story, and I'm stickin to it.

Re:actually (1)

ResHippie (105522) | more than 13 years ago | (#591137)

No, it was not just for Contra, but that's where most people I know learned of it.

You ask anybody who played the game what the "Contra Code" is and they'll give you UUDDLRLRBABAS. Though most of them will know that the "Konami Code" is the same thing.

still totally a subculture (1)

paulbd (118132) | more than 13 years ago | (#591153)

I've been writing software for 14 years. I know one person in the entire universe of my friends, family and acquaintances who plays computer or video games. Jon, what on earth do you mean "no longer a subculture" ?

But in this Arena, the creators don't get killed (1)

moogla (118134) | more than 13 years ago | (#591154)

In fact, video games inspired me to be a creator. I wouldn't have been interested in computer programming if it weren't for my awe at the original NES. As soon as I got into Doom II I was downloading editors and making my own maps. I believe games can inspire otherwise the participants to give something back, whether it's a Quake mod, or an attempt at making the next Unreal. Perhaps this isn't so prevelant in the console gaming world, but still.

Re:Contra (1)

schtoo (119802) | more than 13 years ago | (#591157)

but wait...

wasn't it up,up,down,down,left,right,left,right,B,A,SELECT, start?

The other classic that sticks in my mind (1)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | more than 13 years ago | (#591160)

Code of Honor: a b a c a b b

Re:Prophetic (1)

jallen02 (124384) | more than 13 years ago | (#591164)

Definitely not, work on your liberal arts skills some more so that you can write posts longer than Katz while still focusing on a central point THEN come back..

:-D

*wiating to be modded into oblivian

Jeremy

Re:Contra (1)

jallen02 (124384) | more than 13 years ago | (#591166)

Most guys playing a game like that go into "take over and conquer(sp?) mode.

Guys being fairly goal oriented in general (myself included) tend to get a little uptight in a highly competitive environment, I think its a big thing that people get so worked up over a game, I just love playing QuakeIII I can give a shit if I dont do the greatest, I dont have hours on end to improve my game even if I did I wouldnt there is much more that is much better than video games. Just enjoy them!!!! (As the parent post proves, most guys arent very friendly most likely because they are taking games waaaay to serious)

Jeremy

Jon Katz ... hehehe (1)

SuperDuG (134989) | more than 13 years ago | (#591171)

Okay well gaming is not a culture it's a way to pass spare time. Granted when more than one person does it, it becomes a way of bragging. Contra was an okay game, but remember IDDQD or IDKFA ... yeah original doom cheats that everyone for some reason remembers.

I don't think that because of the nintendo that we have lost respect for our elders though. Maybe when they discuss how they use to have a fun time riding their bikes down a hill or when they use to run for fun (yes it's true people used to excercise for fun) we tend to blow them off because it doesn't apply to today's society.

But when you swap stories of political issues, science, mathmatics, or general history the stories are not only informative sometimes you get a first hand opinion of them.

My suggestion ... turn quake off and give gramma a call ... hell might even tell her your frag average ...

Re:Not quite (1)

Drone-X (148724) | more than 13 years ago | (#591183)

I used to feel this way, but it seems that the older I get the less I know, and the smarter my father becomes. The young always think they know better. You can only know what you've experienced or learned from others, with the former definitely being of higher priority. Age is a limiting factor on how much you can have of either. The young have a relatively limited perspective, by definition, and therefore problems often appear simple and answers obvious. It's not till you get older that you realize that you're a dolt. (Note to teenage flamethrowers: Yes, I know. You're smarter/more experienced/more mature/etc than everyone else. You don't need to remind us all. Thank you.)

I have a deep respect for older (I really mean 30+) people with a great knowledge.. unfortunately I rarely meet people like that. There have been a lot of adults that seemed to know a lot, but the more I get to know, the more people I discover that actually pretend to know a lot.

I've especially had difficulties with this with teachers. Though I admit that I too (especially? ;) don't know it all, it is sad to discover that your Java teacher doesn't know that a { can be placed on the next line, finding out that your SQL teacher doesn't know shit about the subject and just reads of his book. Of course not all teachers are that stupid, but there are a lot of frauds especially (perhaps only) among the informatics teachers.

I've also encountered a lot of people that have good jobs, making a lot of money and that seem not to know some important things. i.e. "so Linux is a UNIX-like OS, and UNIX exist how long now?", coming from a 40 year old software engineer this is fairly pathetic IMHO.

ok, Nintendo is all good, but... (1)

smendrzy (153294) | more than 13 years ago | (#591187)

why hasn't anyone brought up the subject yet of massively multiplayer games?? I'm a hopeless addict of Asheron's Call (yes, I'll admit it freely) and I don't see any chance of kicking the habit anytime soon. For those unfamiliar with Asheron's Call (or Everquest or other games that fall into this category), basically it's a D&D-like role-playing game where you are immersed in a 3-D world with thousands of other players... for a fee of around $10/month. What keeps you playing from month-to-month is the fact that the game's designers constantly update the contents of the world, such as the quests, creatures, and environment. It's an interesting business model -- the company sells the media once and never has to come out with sequels to keep the company afloat. Another reason it's hard to quits is the fact that you lose the characters that you might have spent so long in creating. Anyway, what amazes me is how much of an auction market there is for characters created in games like these. It's common to see high-level characters being sold on E-bay for over $2000! Does anyone else see this as the future of gaming?

Re:Not quite (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 13 years ago | (#591190)

BTW, so some boys from one generation remember a secret code to a popular game? Do they know what the name of an oversized marble is? Gee, it seems that all the boys from the previous generation knew that. Did the marbles culture die?

Yep. Marbles were cool when they were new technology (and for quite some time after that, of course.) "Wow, you mean they're made out of glass? And when they hit one another they don't break? How did they get that cool swirl in there?" Now we've moved on to the videogames and trading card games (IE, Magic, Pokemon) era. (Yes I know those are the two foulest games of their kind, but they're also the most recognizable.)

It's important to recognize that video games will go much the same way, at least as far as we know them. We'll still play games based on computers on into eternity, but eventually they'll be based on full-body movements, and have G-force simulation as well as a more real virtual reality. They'll be virtually indistinguishable from modern console games, at least to an end user. The programmers will still know the score.

Re:What a monoculture! (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 13 years ago | (#591191)

This is an amazingly narrow vision of life in a technology culture. To think that the worlds' view of technology is even remotely affected by some pimply kids twitching and flicking themselves into early carpal tunnel syndrome in front of a TV is absurd.

To think that you obviously posted your comment without bothering to read the story is absurd. Let me help you out.

The average American child plays videogames forty-nine minutes a day, but games are no longer the province of kids; 61 per cent of videogamers are eighteen or older, and more than a quarter are over thirty-six. Videogames are no longer bounded by gender, either: players are evenly divided between men and women.

By eighteen, the worst of the pimple-fest is over for most people. In addition, as it says, more than a quarter of the video game players are over thirty-six. If you still have a pimple problem at that age, you need to see a dermacologist.

Even if you were right, and I must very carefully and emphatically point out that you are not lest people get the wrong idea about what I'm trying to say here, you'd still be wrong for a different reason. Of course the world's view of technology is influenced by what it's youth does; Today's youth, tomorrow's leaders. How's that for an argument for good game design? These are the leaders of tomorrow folks, we can't afford to have UT crash on them constantly!

Re:Not quite (1)

the_ph0x (157769) | more than 13 years ago | (#591195)

As the next paragraph states...
Obviously many older people do have useful things to pass along, especially their experiences with life and their accumulated perspectives.
Sure, I'm 22 and I do know more than most people that I meet (tooting own horn), but I also believe that there is quite a bit of things I can learn from the older generations. Even though they do not or can not fully grasp what I know. I also think that while most poeple my age do attain extreme ammounts of knowlage there is still somthing to be said about good solid experience.
As for the gaming side of it .. heh well its a great way, in my opinion, to relieve the stress that accumilates in our industries.

my 2 cents =p

Where's my mind?... Way out in the water.. see it swimming.

Life for the world. (1)

Virtual JonKatz (172139) | more than 13 years ago | (#591200)

I really fiddle with the new media are striking. Open Media? Open Media sites like America has looked everywhere but by no evidence that give humanity overrun by digital cards and more inter-active. Open Media site operates.

Many investors of context of the post-Littleton hysteria, including the open, and arson. Rape and weighed attitudes. We might want to be at the Colorado massacres in the things they aren't nearly as long ago. In a disaster.

Corporations have thrived on their Napster being used to some of technology advancing rapidly beyond recognition. As a Gallup poll found their classmates.

For them, but most national political candidates -- down. When it comes from Tomorrowland train tunnel. Disney's planned to me like income and capitalism may also have literally grown wildly beyond some levels of the Net. These are harassed, beaten, ostracized and outlets, especially those older Net and injured (none-fatally) six students.

If you enter, what you got paged and politicians, business writers were deceptively political. Perhaps the world, this one, and social agendas to access a lot about their desks -- can thrive in general.

Marvin Minsky? (1)

nekros (173078) | more than 13 years ago | (#591201)

Marvin Minsky? Wasn't this the chap that set AI back ten years by shooting down a paper that was trying to validate AI? I dont know about quoting him as a knowledgable source. But then again, the finds diverted from AI went into the Internet anyway : ) Come on guys, video games will evolve into other media such as TV and radio broadcasts. We will have Video Game Olympics and huge 1,000,000+ multiplayer games with chunks of the world population playing at one time. You will see, it is not too far away... I went to Fragapalooza and all i got was this lousy sig Nekros

Up, Up, Down, Down, OFF, OFF, OFF. (1)

The Gline (173269) | more than 13 years ago | (#591202)

Katz, as usual, turns a piece of cultural scrap into a rallying cry for a generation that can't find anything better to do with its bored self than glorify video games. OK, maybe it's not THAT bad -- in fact, it's miles better than his usual drivel. But it's still Katz.

Re:actually (1)

jaga~ (175770) | more than 13 years ago | (#591205)

that would be: Up, Right, Right, Down, Down, Down, Left, Left, Left, Left, B, A, Start
...err thats for extra lives at least, the most useful of the cheats

Re:So these cheat codes are fun for people? (1)

jaga~ (175770) | more than 13 years ago | (#591206)

did you ever beat it with 3 lives?

me and my friends probably beat contra with 30 lives 100 times over. it was fun, we were like 10

Re:Life for the world. (1)

HobNob (177770) | more than 13 years ago | (#591212)

Someone's running a dissociated press / travesty generator on Jon Katz's articles? What's sad is that it makes almost as much sense as the man himself. I really like the last paragraph.

Re:Contra (1)

sandalle (187295) | more than 13 years ago | (#591215)

I think that was for 2-player only.

Danny Hillis on Games and Culture (1)

toontalk (194237) | more than 13 years ago | (#591221)

Danny Hillis [edge.org] (of Connection Machine [mit.edu] fame and author of The Pattern on the Stone : The Simple Ideas That Make Computers Work [amazon.com] ) gave a keynote address [gamasutra.com] at this year's Game Developer Conference on this topic. He made a strong case for the idea that computer games (in the broad sense) are now the dominant source of culture and narrative. And that this is probably a good thing. Culture was once participatory and social - e.g., story telling around the camp fire but reading novels, watching theater, opera, TV and movies is passive. Computer entertainment is interactive. It engages. And significant learning [toontalk.com] is involved.

-ken kahn [toontalk.com]

Youth centered entertainment nothing new (1)

scotay (195240) | more than 13 years ago | (#591222)

"This chasm first opened on the cultural front, with the evolution of distinctly youth-centered entertainment forms like hip-hop, rock 'n' roll and then Nintendo and Sega..."

The youth culture chasm goes much further back than hip-hop. The Lindy Hop of the 20's and 30's had kids dancing the "animal dance" of former slaves.

I find the cultural argument pretty weak with all this retro revival going on. I can find kids dressing up like their parents and grandparents to jitterbug their Saturday night away.

The cultural chasm between youth and their parents has always existed and is never as wide as we may believe

Re:Contra (1)

z-axis (195410) | more than 13 years ago | (#591223)

Um...did you read the post? ;)

But yeah, my first thought, seeing only the blurb on the Slashdot front page, was to post the completion of the sequence, "left, right, left, right, B, A, start". Very powerful corroboration of the point Katz is trying to make there. (Clever.)

Video Games just recently became cool (1)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 13 years ago | (#591224)

I'm can't exactly pinpoint when Video Games became cool, but I can remember well that when I was a kid there were only a few kids that had consoles (mostly Sega or Nintendo) and it wasn't really considered cool....just on the egde of nerdy. I think the real coolness of consoles must have been around the release of the Playstation 1....but I'm not completely sure

PC Games on the other hand are just 'cool' since about the release of "Doom", or even rather "Quake II". How long was that ago, just 5 years.

The whole "gaming and information culture" still is just a subculture. Teenagers get hooked up faster to the internet and it is considered cool (now, in my days....), but they tend to use it superficially. The young generation is not more interested in technology than it was 10 years ago, no, they are interested in the fun they can have...nothing more nothing less.

Of course you could argue that "older" people don't hook up to technology (gaming and internet) but that is because most people tend to stay with what they know well. My mom is more likely to take a pen and paper to write someone than simply email it....tough I teached her how to write an email. I still have to meet the mom that fires up Quake III to have a "good time". ;-)

Point is: nothing has changed, it just evolves....and it's how it should be. Someday our kids will think we are foolish to use email, because they think that some cool-new-thingy is better.

Mice suck (1)

alephnull42 (202254) | more than 13 years ago | (#591228)

One classic 80's arcade game ruined my enjoyment of Windoze et. al. for life: CENTIPEDE

Just because Apple came out with the mouse, followed by Microsoft who gave it a second tit, it is impossible to find decent, large (2 to 3" diameter) trackballs at affordable prices, even though they beat mice for comfort, footprint and especially coolness (slide your hand across for a quick fast spin, brake in a controlled fashion with the heel of your hand).

Incidentally, my mother (60 years old) chewed me out last year for NOT installing MAME on her new computer - This from the woman who was a card-carrying member of the you-are-wasting-your-time-with-those-stupid-games- go-out-and-play-in-the-fresh-air brigade.
Her reasoning? "Pacman was fine. I could handle Pacman. It was all those goddam fire buttons which made me dislike the other games.
My next long holiday visit to her will be spent building two full upright cabinets, with the option of playing either independently, or of wiring both together to play Gauntlet with 4 people, 2 on each machine.
Problem is, I may never come back....

culture? you put this in your yoghurt? (1)

Technodummy (204943) | more than 13 years ago | (#591229)

No other form of culture is ascending as rapidly. Compared to gaming, traditional kinds of culture -- some elements of book publishing, opera and classical music, dance, appear declining and endangered.

These are not cultures, these are forms of entertainment. Do Gamers avoid every other type of entertainment there is? I don't think so. Even the rise of better music in games is proof that they have other interests.

Culture is more than what you do for fun, especially more than one exact thing. It's beliefs, lifestyle, social behaviour, environment and more...

Ya can try and box people as much as you like Katz, but people are people, with multiple facets, moods and beliefs...

I'm young, I like games, classical music, books, dance, opera, alternative music, technology, philosophy, ethics and psychology.

Sorry, I don't fit in your box...
Get a clue [cluetrain.com]

slashdot readers are dumb (1)

pezpunk (205653) | more than 13 years ago | (#591231)

everyone get on the "flame jon katz without reading the article" bandwagon! it's so hip! c'mon folks if this article had been posted by ANYONE else it wouldn't have HALF the negative comments. admit it, you're all a bunch of biased mindless pack-animal knee-jerk hypocrites.

think about fpr a second at least before moderating this down.

pezpunk
Internet killed the video star,

Technology didn't create a gaming culture . . . (1)

micromoog (206608) | more than 13 years ago | (#591232)

Gaming has been around much longer than video games.

Role playing games are not a technology phenomenon at all. Before the "Emotion Engine" did it for you, people would actually design their own games . . . imagine that!

Does no one remember when D&D was considered satanic because the ultimate goal of rolling characters was to roll 6 6 6 as many times in a row as possible?

Re: Your sig. (1)

Kickasso (210195) | more than 13 years ago | (#591236)

Nah, that would be unfair to the ladies.
--

Re:still totally a subculture (1)

davidmb (213267) | more than 13 years ago | (#591238)

How old are you? I think the age group you fit in to has a lot to do with it. Although I think that most of the article was a load of rubbish.

L1, L2, Circle + Triangle= IRS Cheat Code (1)

tenzig_112 (213387) | more than 13 years ago | (#591239)

You'll see a special screen where you can write off damn near anything!

I often use my Id godcodes which allow me to instantly acquire all the color-coded passkeys. Since I work in a futuristic office complex, this is very helpful. It used to take me over an hour to get access to the washroom.

Gameshark Marriage/Parenting Codes! [ridiculopathy.com]

Re:Contra (1)

ABetterRoss (216217) | more than 13 years ago | (#591244)

nooo..... the point of the article is that most all young male gamers would recognize it. Read before you post, at least.

This Is Culture? (1)

Dr. Dew (219113) | more than 13 years ago | (#591248)

$17 billion in sales doesn't make gaming into its own culture. Widespread recognition doesn't make it important culture. And no amount of articles in this series will make it so.

How many lines can you complete?

  • "You keep using that word..."
  • "Every sperm is sacred..."
  • "I love the smell of napalm..."
  • "I need your clothes, your boots, and ..."
  • "The sword! You promised me the sword! I need..."
  • "Nobody calls me Lebowski. You got the wrong guy. I'm ..."
  • "I believe that the novels of Susan Sontag are ..."
  • "Husbands should be like Klenex - ..."
  • "Mr. President, me must not allow a mine ..."
  • "It's K-k-k-ken, c-c-c-oming to ..."
  • "Never give up! Never ..."
  • "Basically it's hotter than a snake's ..."
  • "Human beings are a disease. A cancer of this planet. You're a plague. And we ..."

We may share common knowledge on some of these, but that doesn't make those we share the defining points of our culture.

I should mention that I am pleased to see a series from this source that is a rehash of someone else's book, though.

I find this whole article (1)

slakr67 (224490) | more than 13 years ago | (#591250)

a little suspect, like this chunk... "Gaming has exploded in the past few years until, according to Steven Poole's book Trigger Happy, videogame sales now equal movie ticket receipts. Sales of game consoles and software in the United States will top $17 billion a year by 2003 (the music industry, by comparison, reported revenues of $15 billion last year)." While gaming might be approaching these forms of entertainment in gross dollars, it's not a fair comparison when the average movie ticket is $7 and a CD $13 when most games are $49.99. Then the whole pretense that anyone is "learning" life lessons from games is just some more new age psychology that doesn't was with anyone who isn't a shut-in or writing a cheesey treatment on video game psychology. I have learned better hand-eye coordination and abstract problem solving with gaming (and have lots of fun), but I have yet to find a life lesson? Maybe I have played the wrong games? I have been an avid console and PC Gamer since the days of the Atari 2600 and bought a 486 so I could play Wing Commander, I have owned almost every generation of console and spent way too much on video and sound cards to play the latest and greatest, but the vast majority of recent games just suck. If I picked up any life lesson from gaming it's "marketing departments suck ass". I can't find enough compelling content for my gaming dollars, although at least Sega is taking some interesting chances on the Dreamcast (Jet Grind Radio is the shit, Baby!). While there is no question that gaming is growing, there are still a lot of people just buying sports games, franchise titles, and just plain dreck from the bargain bin. Where is the life lesson there? What's the life lesson in DOOM, don't step in toxic waste and always look for secret doors? What's the life lesson in Tomb Raider, don't climb mountains in a tank top and shorts? What a bunch of crap!

'Electronic crack???' (1)

canning (228134) | more than 13 years ago | (#591252)

The gaming industry employs thousands of writers, artists, producers, animators, filmmakers designers and programmers. Virtual characters are now sometimes worth thousands of dollars, something inconceivable outside of Hollywood just a few years ago. No other form of culture is ascending as rapidly. Compared to gaming, traditional kinds of culture -- some elements of book publishing, opera and classical music, dance, appear declining and endangered.

THE GAMING INDUSTRY EMPLOYS HUNDREDS!!! SAY IT ISN'T SO!!
How many people does the tobacco industry employ?

Oh man, who wrote this drivel? If you don't agree with the culture and the practices of it, why is he wasting his time bitching about it. These people really bug me. Are we to believe that they are living the most purest of lives and thus gives them the right to report to everyone what is right and what is wrong.

The author makes gaming sound like electronic crack and it makes me sick.

Get a life and leave ours alone.

Re:Not quite (1)

Fatal0E (230910) | more than 13 years ago | (#591253)

I'm 22 and I know (at least I think I know) that it's called a masher.
"Me Ted"

As the article said (1)

dmatos (232892) | more than 13 years ago | (#591256)

That was only if you wanted to play 2-player, with 30 lives each. I personally used this code fot TMNT III.

We Had Several Names for Large Marbles (1)

dmatos (232892) | more than 13 years ago | (#591257)

Um, I think they went:
Croc
Jumbo
Super-Jumbo
Listed smallest to largest (croc being the first size bigger than the regular marble). But that was just my school. Looking at the names on the screen, they seem pretty pathetic to me. Oh, well, we were kids. I was especially proud of my Pearly Super-Jumbo, and my Root-Beer Croc.

News for Jon, Stuff That's Boring ... (1)

WillSeattle (239206) | more than 13 years ago | (#591262)

I mean, c'mon, this is neither insightful nor interesting. Besides, Super NES is so last century. Get with the program, Jon, we only care about the Silver and Gold carts for Gameboy Color, and how to get a haircut for your character. That, plus whether or not Pikachu could take on the new characters.

And, as is highly likely, you haven't the faintest idea what I'm talking about, it just goes to show that you're regurgitating something we knew about millenia ago.

Man, I thought this was supposed to be News for Nerds, not Old Tales Of People Who Think They're Writers ....

Margaret Mead (1)

buttfucker2000 (240799) | more than 13 years ago | (#591264)

> The pace of cultural change in the western world has accelerated so rapidly that it's reached the breaking point, according to the late anthropologist Margaret Mead.

Sorry, but I have difficulty taking seriously anything that quotes Margaret Mead in the first sentence.

Margaret Mead's 'anthropology' largely consisted of her book 'Growing up in Samoa', which took a rosetinted view of life there, presenting it has a haven of peace and tranquility.

It became famous as something with which to compare - unfavorably - American society.

Now, it is only famous for being wrong, for she ignored all the evidence of massive problems, rape, murder, etc.

Re:Not quite (1)

Shard Phoenix (243339) | more than 13 years ago | (#591265)

Hey man, Magic rocks. Pokemon, however, sucks pretty bad :-).

Re:Contra (1)

mr.fonEtIks (245243) | more than 13 years ago | (#591266)

I was looking forward to some new male endurance techniques or weight training tips! I mean, we must have other interests other than games, right?

J/K, of course I thought of Contra!

Gaming -vs- books/arts...not likely (1)

mr.fonEtIks (245243) | more than 13 years ago | (#591267)

Though I don't deny that an interest in gaming is increasing, I do disagree with the statement that it's the cause for a decline in interest in arts & culture. That would be assuming that an individual's choice is limited to play games OR playing an instrument.

I know scores of people who are involved in technology AND have an interest in the arts, and vice versa. There are also reports that show involvement in music programs and such in schools are on the rise. It takes a similar level of focus and disipline as writing code, but it has a different kind of output.

I've been studying voice and trombone for over a decade. I think that my involvement in games/technology and music has helped the other out, they both share a background in mathematics, for example.

As for books, in my experience it's easier to be reading off a hard copy than it is to to be flipping between windows when you're working on the computer.

Other Ups and Downs (1)

perlstar (245756) | more than 13 years ago | (#591268)

The title "up up down down" reminded me of the Uncle Moshie lyric: "Up, Up, Down, Down, Here, There, and Everywhere, that's where He (God) can be found." Any Relation?

Re:And so? (1)

Zenjive (247697) | more than 13 years ago | (#591272)

And to that I say,

EQ Rocks!!!!

Well... (1)

perdida (251676) | more than 13 years ago | (#591275)

I started out with stuff like Zelda on NES and Kings' Quest on my AppleIIGS.

Many woman gamers like point and shoot. I don't have the hand eye coordination for it.

Need to Blow Stuff Up! (1)

bahtama (252146) | more than 13 years ago | (#591276)

Due to all these morals and civility that we practice today, it is no wonder so many people like gaming.

Since I can't hunt a mastadon, nor pillage and plunder, I have to do it on my computer! Everyone needs a outlet for blowing stuff up, it is part of being human. Beside, I'm too old to be blowing up my neighbors mailboxes while my stupid friends videotape it...

=-=-=-=-=
"Do you hear the Slashdotters sing,

Re:Gaming is just another form of art (1)

sojiro (255286) | more than 13 years ago | (#591280)

Hmm, nationalization seems to have so worked well for everything else its been tried on. It seems that while every country in the world is trying to cut its nationalized/state-owned enterprises, America is one of the few where a sizable (read Green Party/Nader voters) think that it is such a good idea to nationalize. Not to rant, but working for a non-profit organization, I must say that if my organization is as inefficient as it is, I can't even begin to imagine what those SOEs/nationalized industries are like... BTW, if I totally missed the sarcasm in the original post, please hit me.

And so? (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 13 years ago | (#591286)

If I want to relieve my stress by blowing little phosphory bits on my monitor, so be it. If I wish to unleash my megalomaniac habits, I'll put in a game of Civ. IMHO computer gaming is one of the best ways to do those things you can't do in real life because they're dangerous/forbidden/plain wrong/whatever

Gimme more!

Re:Contra (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 13 years ago | (#591287)

I do techsupport, and for some strange reason I'm getting more and more young girls on the phone complaining they can't get Tomb Raider to run correctly. Now it could be just me of course, but...

First in a series (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#591299)

Jon Katz wrote: "First in a series"

Be Afraid

Be VERY Afraid

WHY ARE KATZ ARTICLES ALWAYS X IN A SERIES??? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#591300)

Hey Katz, if it's part 1 in a series that's probably because it's NOT FUCKING DONE YET. Finish the article. Then post it. Or is this your own self-aggrandizing way of making yourself look more important and more prolific as a writer, by writing one article and passing it off as 3 or 5 or 10. It's one. one. one. You are a fradulent slacker.

[sp/ot] contra code and my ode to nintendo (2)

dayeight (21335) | more than 13 years ago | (#591310)

I can't miss /. mentioning the contra code. I would like all fellow slashdotters over the age of 18 who don't mind an occassional swear word to listen to 8 Bits of Power [pushove.com] a moving filk [usc.edu] song about everyones fave 8 bit system. Quite a differant step from Bratwurst Orange's [mp3.com] electrical spoken gabber core, but I do play a shopping cart in it, and just try to count the allusions!

8 Bits of Power [pushove.com]

Re:Contra (2)

Saige (53303) | more than 13 years ago | (#591318)

26. Female. A computer bought with gaming in mind (800 mhz athalon). Quake, Quake 2, Quake III (but NOT team arena, yuck, what a joke, CCTF all the way). Diablo II. Rollercoaster Tycoon. Civ, Civ2, MOO2. Simcity 2000/3000, The Sims w/addon.

You have to look in the right places. CRPG's get a lot more women playing then say, action games, and so do the sim games. Heck, I've never had problems finding other girls on Diablo II to party with (because they're actually more fun and friendlier). Don't see a lot playing Quake, however.
---

Re:Wow (2)

Pfhreakaz0id (82141) | more than 13 years ago | (#591321)

The power to generalize things inot a fitting metaphor is NOT an easy writing task. I get tired of people always jumping all over Katz. Think writing is easy? YOU try it, bub.
---

culture ain't you what think (2)

BenHmm (90784) | more than 13 years ago | (#591322)

"Gaming" is no more a culture than "Cars" or "Food" or "Music" or "Technology".

It's just the starting point for lots of little cultures. Quake Arena is one. Everquest is another. Guys bragging over their new PS2s is a third.

My little sister goes on a lot about Pokemon

Hence, to say that "gaming is becoming our ascendant culture" is a bit odd. "A lot of people play some form of electronic game" is better, "Democratic capitalism, based on a globalist economic viewpoint, built around a primarily but not solely Judeo-Christian post-Bastille work ethic is becoming our ascendent culture" might be better still.

Not that many people has a NES anyway. Maybe everyone YOU know, but who are they exactly?

Re:The fall of the global empire? (2)

BenHmm (90784) | more than 13 years ago | (#591323)

I don't think so: have you ever watched anyone play a video game? It's pretty dull.

And playing the game is participation, even of a seditary sort.

Video games might be turning us into a slightly fatter society, but one of spectators? nah

bah (2)

ruin (141833) | more than 13 years ago | (#591332)

give me a good left-jump-left-bubble-left-1up any day...

Sigh. Leave it to Katz to take the best thing in the world, (games) and turn it into his usual bland, unresearched, over-generalized paste.

Oh, and I just have to correct the most egregious mis-statement of the post:

Videogames are no longer bounded by gender, either: players are evenly divided between men and women.

Depending on how you look at it, videogames have either always been bounded by gender, or never bounded by gender. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Pac-man, a game which has been around forever, has always had an even gender split in its players. This may be stating the obvious, but games that simulate things that boys like to do (play sports, fight, shoot people) are more heavily favored by boys, and games that simulate things girls like to do (play house, design cities, run around a little maze gathering power pellets) are more heavily favored by girls.


--

Re:Not quite (2)

Dannon (142147) | more than 13 years ago | (#591333)

I must agree. The more I learn, the more I realize that there is a lot of stuff I haven't yet learned.

And what is true of knowledge is even more true of wisdom. The two are not the same, though it is easy to lump them together. Sure, I may have more ready access to facts and pure information than my father or my grandfather ever had, or have even now. But then, I've never fought in a war, or been through a Depression, or visited half the places in the world that they have. Plus, they've had at least a couple more decades to 'think things through' than I have. ;)

---

Re:Man.... you forgot (2)

xiitone (152104) | more than 13 years ago | (#591336)

>Want some more hardcore oldschool goodness? Check out this review of the Pentium 200 at Glide Underground.
P200? hardcore oldschoool goodness? Please, god let this be a troll for "when I was young" stories. oy.

Re:So these cheat codes are fun for people? (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 13 years ago | (#591337)

But cheats to simply make the game easier to beat? I guess I just don't get it. "I was playing the game for 3 hours every day and it rocked! Then somebody showed me this cool cheat and I beat it in an hour! Now I....well...now I don't have anything to play anymore, and I'm bored."

First of all, this code wasn't that disgusting. It gave you more lives, it didn't put you in god mode. In some games, it grants you additional weapons as well; Big deal.

Second of all, the thing that makes a game worthwhile is replayability. A good game is worth playing even after you've beaten it, except for the majority of RPGs. Even an RPG is not entirely worthless after beaten if it's a good game; You can go back and check for all the easter eggs, comb the map, et cetera. Final Fantasy VII, for example, has endless replayability with the mini-games.

The cheat codes make games easier. If you can't beat the game after weeks or trying or what have you, then it's time to find a cheat. Maybe you suck, or maybe the game is really hard, but either way there's no need to frustrate yourself.

Re:Contra (2)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 13 years ago | (#591339)

[joke]Go easy on him. Can you really blame him for not wanting to read a Jon Katz article?[/joke]

Re:The fall of the global empire? (2)

nekros (173078) | more than 13 years ago | (#591340)

>>Could it be that video games are turning our
>>society, the global empire, into another
>>society of spectators?

Hardly. Gamers are actively involved participants in a virtual reality. I believe that this virtual reality will some day (50+ years) mix with current reality. If you are talking about spectators, you missed it. It was the TV generation, not gamers. Nekros

Re:actually (2)

dark_panda (177006) | more than 13 years ago | (#591341)

I don't think there is a code for that game, but (and I doubt too many of you remember this one) EGM once ran a code that let you use Simon Belmont from the Castlevania games in lieu of a ninja turtle. The code was hopelessly complex, and I remember spending soooo fucking long trying to get Simon to beat up Foot Soldiers.

Of course, being the naieve kid I was, I never stopped to realize what month it was. Every April, EGM pulls an April Fool's joke on its readers. The year before it was Sheng Long in Street Fighter 2. Even the damn name on the submission was something like Fuld Ya Gen or something. The pictures looked real, dammit!

The next month they revealed, to the Nation's shock, that no, you could not use Simon Belmont in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 for the NES. A lot of people lost it on EGM's head at the time for printing the damn code, but it was pretty funny, even if I cried myself to sleep each night for a week wishing I could use Simon Belmont from Castlevania in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2 for the NES.

J

Re:Not quite (2)

gscott (187733) | more than 13 years ago | (#591344)

- You can only know what you've experienced or learned from others, with the former definitely being of higher priority. Age is a limiting factor on how much you can have of either. It is a factor but not neccesarily a limiting one. I work with high school kids part time and I have met some who are as mature and experienced as I am, and I have met adults who were as inexperienced as children becuase they had never learned on their own. What a person knows in terms of experiences depends the path their life has taken. I've seen kids 18 years old who have had more life-defining experiences, whether good or bad, than I have had at age 27. I believe that it's more what you have been through than how long you have been around.

Re:Not just in Contra... (2)

Phokus (192971) | more than 13 years ago | (#591346)

I'm frightened that you knew all that. And i thought I was a freak for remembering the "UP UP DOWN DOWN..." code, lol

Outlet (2)

Mad Hughagi (193374) | more than 13 years ago | (#591348)

I'd agree immensely. Games have always been a way to 'get away from the humdrum of daily life' for me. Ever since I started playing D&D and simple console machines I've found it to be very agreeable to my need to break free from the constraints of daily life on my imagination.

Even now I spend 8 hours a day coding just so I can go home half the time to play another 8 hours of Baldurs Gate 2. I don't simply focus on gaming, but I do find that it is one of the best ways to 'waste time' and still enjoy oneself a great deal.

When you were a kid you always dreamed of doing the impossible or something out of reach, games just fueled that desire. I guess I'm still a kid at heart (besides the fact that I've pretty much devoted my life to studying physics simply for the sake of understanding reality).

I think the emphasis should be placed on the human desire to think outside of the envelope, not on the 'technology that makes it efficient at the current point in time'. Sure, games are a very good outlet for letting go, but people can still find the same experience from more traditional activities like reading and creative artwork (programming???). I think the fact is that younger people can grasp the immediate gratification of a game much easier than some convoluted appreciation for more traditional human activities, and that is why it is such a popular vehicle for kids to explore the limits of their imagination with.

Re:Gaming is just another form of art (2)

fudboy (199618) | more than 13 years ago | (#591350)

hrmmm...

vidoegames are much more on the scale of a film than say, an opera performance or one guy in a loft making pictures of 'piss christ'. That's to say, the NEA (was? I seem to remember hearing that it had gone defunct) is more suited to funding the smaller, more traditional or classical arts than anything so large and intesive as an 18 month production cycle for 30-80 people. I don't think it would be practical to subsidize such an endeavor, the typical quality of games is already low enough, the designs and implementations generally weak enough that removing the capitalist incentive would leave us with the weakest productions imaginable.

I have seen some of the offerings of nationalized, subsidized filmaking, and aside from animation from canada and comedy shows from UK, gov't funded media projects always seem to end up stuffy and introverted, ala the french and italian cinema scenes... what's that you say? can't place any particular films from that category? well, maybe that is because the 'artistes' were not held to the capitalist mandate of making 'attractive' movies, and thus failed to 'attract' many veiwers.

:)Fudboy

Re:So these cheat codes are fun for people? (2)

dmatos (232892) | more than 13 years ago | (#591357)

This code was fun for me. With three lives, I'd be very lucky to get past the first three or four levels. I sucked huge at that game. I found it very disappointing that, no matter how much I memorized where each enemy was, where each boss bullet would fly, I'd invariably end up getting killed. Then I found out about this new code, and it opened new doors and new levels for me. I was able to access parts of the game that I previously couldn't. I was able to appreciate the game in all its glory.

Same thing with TMNT III (for which the code also works - 9 lives instead of 3). It's still a challenge to win, but it is possible. The problem with your pool analogy is that you did not get to actually play the game. This is analogous (sp?) to the Rocket Ranger (what a great game) cheat, where if you let the zepplin kidnap the girl, then just wait, and wait, and wait, and at the last second rescue her, you got to see the "guy saves girl kisses girl" end of game sequence. The joy of a game is in playing the game, and if you need a little help playing the game (as I did) then I see no problem to using a code such as this. Why do you think Nintendo made the game genie?

As a side note, I prefer RPG's, where if I'm having difficulty with a particular point in the game, I can wander around getting experience/level ups before going back for a second try.

What are you talking about? (2)

JewishSamarai (248001) | more than 13 years ago | (#591359)

The chosen people study the Torah. Games? Hah.

Gaming is just another form of art (2)

workers_unite (258946) | more than 13 years ago | (#591364)

It's clear that the huge multinational corporations that are buying up gaming companies right and left are out of control. There is a simple solution: Nationalize the arts, including gaming.

Once gaming companies are publically owned and operated, they will have the freedom to create whatever they want without the interference of having to "watch the bottom line" or "what will the Mother Company think of this?" It will be ultimate freedom.

As for massively multiplayer gaming, they should be publically owned also, but should have a board of oversight from the government -- with veto power over all decisions -- to watch privacy issues, etc.


--

Re:Not quite (3)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | more than 13 years ago | (#591366)

(Note to teenage flamethrowers: Yes, I know. You're smarter/more experienced/more mature/etc than everyone else. You don't need to remind us all. Thank you.)

I'm not a teenager. (Just turned 33, so I'm nearing 'old fart', actually.) But so far I have to agree with Jon. My generation may not be smarter or more experienced than the older ones, but we're a hell of a lot more flexible and capable. And the generation below me is just plain scary, as adept as they are.

Just this week at work I'm going to mandatory Lotus Notes training. That's right, they're forcing all employees to sit in a classroom for FOUR hours so they can teach us how to use an email client. Nevermind that I've used over a dozen different email clients, nevermind that I could WRITE Lotus Notes if I had to. Nevermind that for people my age and experience, an email client is about as interesting and as difficult to learn as a toaster. Nope...because some aging executive idiot thought it was difficult, we all have to waste our time training in it. (sigh)

As for games jumping in cultural importance...I'm reminded of that NASDAQ commercial, where some kid asks 'where is the center of the tech world?' He goes through an assembly line, a lecture by a scientist...and then is thrown into a first-person shooter game. That gaming is reaching the same status as high-tech industry and science is, I think, a very interesting observation. I don't know how gaming culture will affect society, but I think it's a good bet to say that it will, somehow.

And by the way -- the older I get, the dumber my father becomes. 'Filling my lungs with cigarette tar prevents me from catching colds!' Yeah, right, dad.

Check me into the nursing home please. ;) (3)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 13 years ago | (#591367)

It's amazing how our brains interconnect certain things. Soon as I saw the title of this article, I immediately thought of Contra. (BTW: I still contend that Contra is impossible to beat unless you have 30 lives. :) )

I'm 25, and still a video game lover. I think it's a major culture shift. Sure, you had a few adults who were hooked on Pac Man and the like, but never anything like I've seen in the fast few years. More and more people my age are still keeping up with the latest trends in consoles and PC games. (I'm still waiting for my copy of Escape from Monkey Island...) I personally think that they're a great form of entertainment...better than just about anything the movie studios pump out. You're actually involved in the action somewhat, and they're a great way to kill an hour or two.

One of the things that can get out of hand, as my brother who is a senior in high school is seeing now, is that no one's reading anymore. I do, and he does, but he says he knows so many people who haven't picked up a book in quite some time. This has obvious drawbacks. However, kept in perspective, gaming is a great pastime for any age.

I'm feeling old right about now. Think I'll fire up NESticle after work. ;)

Margaret Mead (3)

gdulli (177638) | more than 13 years ago | (#591371)

Didn't she kind of lose all credibility in the whole Samoan cultural relativism hoax debacle?

Strangely enough (3)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 13 years ago | (#591372)

up up down down, etc

these little bits of trivia are part of the jargon and the secret signals that make up the clue, the code that hold a culture together.

be it the knowing discussions around the watercooler of monday nite football, or the lyrics of a favorite pop tune, or the ketboard sequence of a favorite game, those little words and signals allow members of that particular subculture to identify each other, among other things.

Just as an example, look at the name of THIS site. True, alot more folks are on the internet.

But how many even "get" the name of a place called slashdot?

Rebutting Katz (3)

Tappah (224124) | more than 13 years ago | (#591373)

I read the above article, and was less than impressed with the author's grasp of the culture he attempts to portray. As the owner of the Online Gaming League [ogl.org] , the largest and most popular competition system for first person shooter and action games, I feel that katz has utterly missed the point - he has not even addressed the real dynamics of the gaming subculture, where they live, and where the memes of this culture are developed, expressed, and spread. I do agree that gamers are a rapidly growing, and distinct subculture, however understanding this phenomenon requires a more thorough review, than simply naming off 4 or 5 websites that specialize in providing banner ads to gaming websites (and citing them as the "diverse and complicated media culture " of gamers, is considerably less than clueful.)

Gamers live, abide, and pursue their interests in very distinct layers, imposed by the "connectedness" of their favorite games. This layering has a huge effect on the interaction between gamers, and the cultural similarities they may (or may not) share. For example, until very recently, console games had no facility for connection to the net. And hence, console gamers have absorbed very little of that which we might call the "Gamer Culture".

On the other hand, the fans of id Software's games, including Quake X, Doom X, etc. use those games as a communications medium, as well as an outlet for fun (The same is true of Tribes players, UT players, etc. id, however, must be given credit as the company which invented the gamer culture as we think of it today). These players have internet connections (and usually the very fastest available), and spread the memes and mores of the gamer culture through direct interaction. Not only do they communicate directly in games, but they meet in Clans (teams) outside the game, socialize together in IRC on networks exclusively dedicated to gamers like irc.enterthegame.com, and troll forums on clan websites, and other gaming oriented sites. They also meet at popular events catering exclusively to gamers, like Quakecon [quakecon.org] .

It is this interaction and communication that defines the gamer culture. And it is also why, for the most part, that which we describe as "the gamer culture", is in reality, the "id culture".

While I certainly do think the gamer subculture is interesting and worthy of description, I suggest that Mr Katz spend a little more time getting to know it, and what it's really about, before pontificating about it. It's a fact that the corporate websites of banner ad providers aren't setting any standards within the culture.

gg dewd.

Tapper

Culture (4)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 13 years ago | (#591376)

Game playing has always been a part of cultures. It is a way of bringing up kids into the culture, of teaching them values without bashing them over the head. But IMHO, America doesn't really have a culture. It's culture resides in the perception of what America should be, rather than is (see DH Lawrences' O! America, I believe). America is still searching for identity.

We still have games, but these games are not created by the owners of the culture, but instead are the culture themselves. Each generation is faced with the task of finding its own identity, creating its own culture, and having very little to go upon except the artifacts of every day life, and of the past generation.

And, at least partially, I think that this is why we are seeing more, unpredictable, violent behavior, and suicide in youth. Not because Doom made them do it. But because they do not have a culture to belong to, that gives them inherent purpose in life. Yeah, this is getting mushy, but I think studies have shown that those brought up with a strong sense of tradition, of culture, are better adjusted as adults than those just cast into an artificial world of empty commercialism. This is the basis of movies like Fight Club.

It's just my perception that coming generations are having to build their own culture block by block from scratch, as the sense of any common culture goes away. The same thing is happening in Japan, where the previous culture is being left behind, leaving young people with a sense of isolation, with no common bond with previous generations.

Which is not to say this is an entirely dire situation. I love pop culture, I love Andy Warhol, I love the sense that there are codewords and a culture that only my generation alone shares.

Old news (4)

Alioth (221270) | more than 13 years ago | (#591378)

Adults still insist they have lessons to teach the next generation. But the young have come to believe, with increasing justification, that their elders know much less than they do, and have little worth passing along yak yak yak yak

This isn't news. Wasn't it Mark Twain who said something like, "When I was 20, my father knew nothing, but by the time I was 25, I was suprised how much he had learned in 5 years" - basically showing that throughout time, the younger generation has always seen the older generation as a useless anachronism until they reach their mid twenties or even thirties? Why do people keep presenting this as "news" or "something wrong with the word" when it's probably been like this since humans advanced enough to have a culture?

Not quite (5)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 13 years ago | (#591379)

Adults still insist they have lessons to teach the next generation. But the young have come to believe, with increasing justification, that their elders know much less than they do, and have little worth passing along.

I used to feel this way, but it seems that the older I get the less I know, and the smarter my father becomes. The young always think they know better. You can only know what you've experienced or learned from others, with the former definitely being of higher priority. Age is a limiting factor on how much you can have of either. The young have a relatively limited perspective, by definition, and therefore problems often appear simple and answers obvious. It's not till you get older that you realize that you're a dolt.

(Note to teenage flamethrowers: Yes, I know. You're smarter/more experienced/more mature/etc than everyone else. You don't need to remind us all. Thank you.)

No other form of culture is ascending as rapidly. Compared to gaming, traditional kinds of culture -- some elements of book publishing, opera and classical music, dance, appear declining and endangered.

Maybe they're declining because they're boring or being replaced by something more obtainable. Maybe they're only being replaced as entertainment for some. Video games are not a culture. They are entertainment.

In years past very few people ever had the opportunity to see an opera. The best that most people could get would be the county fair. Now everyone in the Western world is able to afford to hear music from their favorite artist, be it through CDs or radios. Concerts and TV have replace operas. Rock has replace classical music as the most popular, because now the populace chooses what's popular as opposed to the select elite rich.

Nothing has changed here, except that now more people have the money to buy their own choice of entertainment. Bother yourself to pull up a chart of Maslow's Heirarchy of needs and you will see that this is as it should be. Except for some extreme cases, the Western world has conquered homelessness, hunger, and all the other lower order needs. With nothing left to conquer, men (and boys) turn to destractions.

BTW, so some boys from one generation remember a secret code to a popular game? Do they know what the name of an oversized marble is? Gee, it seems that all the boys from the previous generation knew that. Did the marbles culture die?

Another conspiracy theory.. (5)

Oztun (111934) | more than 13 years ago | (#591380)

Another Jon Kat's conspiracy theory with no merit. I grew up playing video games and knew the cheat code immediatly. When I was a teenager I did believe I knew more then my parents, true. My parents when younger didn't have video games and they had the same belief in the 60's. I'm sure their parents went through the same thing. It's called being a teenager. My parents taught me many things I failed to listen to growing up. Now however I'm 26 years old and realize they were right and I was wrong on a whole lot of things. This whole process just happens a lot more and a lot faster these days because of better communication and more crap to think about.

Nothing has changed much except that most parents aren't raising their kids and teaching them the lessons they need for when they decide to grow up. These are just my own rants and any opions different from mine are wrong. Just kidding =P

The fall of the global empire? (5)

mesozoic (134277) | more than 13 years ago | (#591381)

There are those who say that the Roman empire collapsed partly because it went from a society of participators--athletes, intellectuals, etc.--to a society of spectators--the Coliseum, theatre, etc.

Could it be that video games are turning our society, the global empire, into another society of spectators?

Food for thought. I'm just poking for ideas; don't think I'm that much of a pessimist.

Re:What a monoculture! (5)

jaga~ (175770) | more than 13 years ago | (#591382)

To think that 'some pimply kids twitching and flicking themselves into early carpal tunnel syndrome' is all that the recent interest in interactive story-driven environments is, much less that it has and will have no affect on cultural development and the methodology of learning and progression is ignorant outright. Video games have a very strong influence on a very large and growing percentage of the population of our country. That's like stating that TV is this new thing that only rich people use and it wont ever replace or change radio.

The future of entertainment will develop into a more interactive environment where users decide outcomes in increasingly chaotic story-threaded algorythms. Watching a movie once or five times can be great but 100 might be stretching it. Hopefully in the near future a game will be something you can sit down and play endlessly, and have no fear of 'beating' if properly done. This is the strong interest in online gaming and why PC game companies like id and Epic have recently focused on online multiplayer games; these unfortunately lack the story to gain the interest of many older/more 'serious' gamers but I suspect that is changing already. Games and gamers help define our culture at this point and taking advantage of the obvious interests of people who play games is good for companies (money) and can also be beneficial to parents and teachers in general (learning). I don't think this represents a monoculture at all, it displays one of the developing cultural changes brought about by the advent of technology and we should all appreciate it.

Not just in Contra... (5)

dark_panda (177006) | more than 13 years ago | (#591383)

... being one of those Nintendo kids, the code mentioned also works for these other games (mostly Konami):

  • Life Force on the NES at the title screen for 30 ships
  • Gradius III for the SNES, which dun blows you up when you pause
  • Operation C for the Gameboy at the title screen for level select
  • Gyruss for the NES at the title screen for 30 ships, although you have to enter it backwards (and Gyruss was released by Ultra, a subsidiary of Konami or something to that effect)
  • Legend of the Mystical Ninja for the SNES. Actually, you couldn't enter the code, but if you talked to somebody in the game, they mention the code as a bit of Konami history heritage
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IV: Turtles In Time on the SNES. At the # of players selection screen with the second controller, it gave you 10 lives and a stage select
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project on the NES. At the title screen, it gives you access to an options screen
  • Tendrils for the Playstation's Net Yarouze. I'll admit, I never heard this one before, but I found it on Google and it's pretty funny. Look it up yourself.
  • There's also a band evidently called Up Up Down Down Left Right Left Right BA Start. I think they're from Ohio or something.
I'm sure there's a few more games to use The Code on, but I can't remember any more of them. I'm surprised I could remember those ones. But that's what you get for trying to substitute real life for Nintendo's version of it.

Damn you Nintendo. Damn you.

J
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