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An opaque window into the mind

Author: Mitch
Posted: 16 Jul 2004

Those who know me well might agree that I have trouble forming firm opinions on touchy matters like politics and morals. This is because I try to be circumspect to a fault: by forcing myself to consider the validity of every side of an issue, I find myself unable to discount fully any dissenting arguments. Consider the hand-wringing I've been engaged in since well before the Iraq war began, and you'll understand how I can argue for and against a point of view with the same level of conviction, sometimes in the same sentence.

When I'm trying to figure out where I stand on something, I find distinct parts of my brain engaging in McLaughlin Group-style debate. These are cogent, coherent conversations I'm having mentally. Here's one such discussion I just had, which began while I was at the urinal (no, that's not relevant). We'll call the two speakers Barry and LeVon, only because you really can't have too many shoutouts to The State.

Barry: "Man, I'm looking forward to sitting down and spending some quality time with Metroid Prime."

LeVon: "Just what you need - another ten hours glued to the TV."

Barry: "I consider video games an active hobby. A gamer is engaged while playing - not only is he working mentally, he's also responding and reacting physically thanks to the controller interaction."

LeVon: "Don't you think such an argument lends credence to those who claim violent video games can warp the mind? If you're fully engaged in, say, the slaughter of the entire ecosystem of Tallon IV, isn't that logically going to extend to your actions in real life?"

Barry: "Come on, now. It's just a game. That's like saying a baseball player will be conditioned to want to hit every round object he sees with a bat or similar blunt instrument."

LeVon: "That analogy is fallacious. The medium isn't the point. Your analogy would be accurate if I had suggested that playing too many games led you to believe that you could control the world around you with a gamepad. Baseball players and other athletes deal with life through hard work. A ballplayer learns that in order to get ahead in life, he needs to practice hitting; a gamer learns that he must annihilate his obstacles."

Barry: "But we both learn the value of winning, as it is the modus operandi for both of us. And it's not like I don't work hard to beat a game."

LeVon: "Certainly. But the ballplayer has worked hard at something to bring him success in life. Money, happiness, and hot chicks out the ass. You, by contrast, sit in your home and avoid everything that could bring you what you actually want. Even though you both win, only one of you is actually a winner."

Barry: "Fuck."

(originally published at

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