Rohit's Realm

// / archive / 2011 / 08 / 29 / virtual-reality

August 29, 2011

Virtual Reality

Madden 12

For all the mind-numbing technical gibberish I routinely spout on this most wretched of sites, there remains one technical topic that I have rarely—if ever—breached: video games. Considering it is a subject so closely aligned in the popular psyche with technology and computer geekery, that is as strange an omission as it is a confounding one. What could possible have motivated such a silence for over nine years of this blog's existence?

Could it be shame? But, as a rather unapologetic (computer) nerd who as recently as 2007 refused to outsource my e-mail, what possible shame could there be in admitting I like video games? None, as it were. My consummate failures are, after all, well known to this readership—to reveal, for instance, that I was a video game addict wouldn't do any more harm than, say, this entry, already has to my beleaguered (online) reputation.

So, what's the deal then? Simple: I don't write about video games because I neither play nor am interested in video games. (I know: blasphemy!) In fact, of mainstream societal indulgences today, I can't think of one (besides maybe television) in which I have less interest than gaming.

I haven't seriously—where seriously is defined as more than 20–30 minutes—played a video game in over a decade. Before randomly buying a PlayStation 3 last winter (egged on by G-Unit), I had owned two video game systems in my life: a Nintendo 8-bit in the late 1980s and a PlayStation in the mid 1990s. The last game I beat was Tomb Raider II. Before that, Super Mario Bros 1 (and maybe 3—I can't remember). And more than eight months after buying a $300 video game system, I have never played a single video game on it; my PS 3 remains a glorified NetFlix streaming device.

So, what's the point, you might ask? Well, this morning, I went online at 7 am and purchased this—a brand new game that hasn't even been released. What? Why? And more importantly, why now?

At least three reasons. First, as I have discussed before, I continue to believe that my time in (and at) Chicago resulted in an undesirable narrowing of pursuits. The casualties of law school, great and small, ultimately culminated in a loss of touch with the real world that I have been slowly counteracting in the year since I have emerged, and this is one such step. And if I have to reconnect with society, better with video games than reality TV (ugh!).

Speaking of loss of touch, what to make of my lack of any real interaction with video game technology in the past decade? That brings up the second reason. Technology in this realm has made vast leaps in the past ten years—so much so that I was barely able to believe how amazing the graphics have gotten when I downloaded the Madden 12 demo last night. As a person who has spent his entire adult life immersed in technology and computer science, how could I continue to ignore this large portion of the field? Ironically, it took reading a recent article in the The New Yorker to realize how far removed I had become. With a modern game that I play occasionally, at least I won't be completely ignorant of the vast advances that have been made in video game technology.

Finally, on the topic of ignorance, I recognized a troublesome trope in my indifference toward video games that slightly scared me. All those I have known to get old and disdainful toward technological advances—out of touch, to co-opt an insult frequently hurled at those who are not sufficiently anti-intellectual to satisfy the expectations of the much loathed unwashed masses—have begun their descent into odious Ludditism with a lack of interest. It's much easier to scorn what you don't know or understand. And after a decade or more, perhaps my lack of interest was soon to give into something far worse. How long before I didn't get it the way our grandparents don't get computers and our parents didn't and don't get the Internet?

There are more reasons for my shocking return to video games after almost fifteen years, but I think I'll stop here for your sake, dear readers. And while I doubt I will ever again muster the patience for a role-playing game or anything else involved, I might even be convinced to buy a second sports game or something similar. My connection to society depends on it, after all. Anyone have any recommendations?


I don't think sports games actually count -- they're video games for people who don't play video games, and I know plenty of sports game players who nonetheless hold the contempt for the medium as a whole that you're trying to avoid.

Hence, I recommend Portal and/or Portal 2. Essential playing for any self-respecting nerd, and a ton of fun to boot.

Add Comment





* required field

E-mail addresses will never be displayed. The following HTML tags are allowed:
a abbr acronym address big blockquote br cite del em li ol p pre q small strong sub sup ul