In case you haven't realized, the title of this article has a sense of sarcasm. "The Dark Ages" refers to an article written by Kate Muir for The Times in the U.K. The article concludes that video games have become a safe haven for masculinity, much like gentleman's clubs did at the turn of last century. "…of a woman" refers to this particular journalist's lack of knowledge of video games and the effect they have on society and in particular, on males.
She seems to have written an article based on a few Google searches and by eavesdropping on men who are talking about games. "…why men need to grow up" is purely a sarcastic attempt to in some way give Muir some recognition for an article that is written well and at least attempts to get its point across in a good manner, albeit unsuccessfully.
This article in question comes about quite coincidently with the opinion piece I wrote last week titled "The Misconceived Perception". That article refers to the abomination that was the live debate on FOX News regarding the "sex scenes" that take place in Mass Effect. In case you don't know, there are no actual sex scenes in Mass Effect. It's rather a scene that shows two non-human beings engaging in sensual conduct and in which no human interaction is permitted. It's no different to a love scene in Grey's Anatomy that is shown during prime time around the world. In regards to Muir's piece, her very thoroughly researched article (sarcasm again) is yet again another clear indication of how the non-gaming public views video games and their place and effect within society.
Firstly, Muir quotes that "Xboxes" (note the spelling) are just toys after all. I guess the definition of a toy is far broader than it was during the 1920s when Muir was in her late 30s. It is feasible to say that gaming consoles are today's big boy's toys, as I mentioned in my previous article. She did mention that, upon her extensive research deep into the Google empire, 48 per cent of males between the ages of 18 and 34 had played a console at least once in their lives. Muir was critical of this. I don't know why, but it seems as though she cannot understand that video games and the consoles on which they can be played are aimed at a young adult and, in most cases, male audience. She seems worried that young males are spending up to three hours a day, alone, playing video games on their "Xboxes".
When I was much younger than I am today, my father always used to say to me, "Never assume. When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me." Well, I'm not sure about the other people reading Muir's article, but she sure as hell isn’t making an ass of me. Perhaps she's making an ass of her editor for allowing her to include the word "Xboxes" in her article instead of "Xbox". Muir "assumed" that adolescent males played football, watched Big Brother and chased girls. That still happens, but she doesn't seem to realise that. Perhaps she lives in a world where three hours of gaming a day somehow reflects a whole day's worth.
Oh, and by the way Muir, if you wanted to somehow hide your feminist views from the public, you failed when you proposed that males "instigate punch ups" in their free time. I live in a country where the gaming industry is currently booming, in both a development and market sense. Yet sport participation and box office receipts were both on the rise in 2007. Those figures are for Australia. Don't be surprised if they are similar for the UK. So while video games sales and participation might be increasing by the day, people still do what they used to once upon a time. And I love to court a jolly looking female when I see one. Three hours a day of playing video games doesn't stop me from doing so.
As for Muir's sons, aged 10 to 13, I'm curious to see how many fathers they actually know that buy something for their son and then play it themselves. My father is in his 40s and loathes video games. I've asked all of my friends and their fathers wouldn't even know how to turn a console on. Do Muir's two sons, who by all means could very well be the two most informed people on the face of this Earth, know enough fathers that would conclude that a majority play games? Seriously, does anyone know a 10 or 13 year old that would seriously answer a question like that with any sense of interest or dedication to the topic? For all we know, they have one friend whose father is divorced, eats baked beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner and spends his weekly pay cherub on a subscription to World of Warcraft. But that's one man. He could be a wealthy real estate mogul who, instead of plumping himself down in front of the television after a hard day's work, gets more enjoyment out of playing Wii Sports.
The whole concept that men playing video games is worse than building train sets in their basement is laughable. Obviously, Muir has no friends and doesn't understand the concept of "multiplayer". Train sets have less room for multiple involvement than a video game does. A man can invite his friends over for a 4-player game of FIFA 08 and a few beers. It wouldn't sound the same if he asked his friends to come over and "help him glue the tunnel to the train track".
And you don't need to be a geek to play video games. But I'm curious to know what Muir's definition of geek is anyway. I play video games for a living, yet I go out almost every night to socialize with friends, I have a girlfriend, I've traveled multiple times, I love to shop for clothes and I enjoy drinking a glass of red wine while watching a movie late at night. My friends are all the same. Yet at least four times a week we all meet up in my basement and duel it out over a game of Mario Kart. Perhaps next time we should head out to the bar, get drunk, walk the streets, abuse an elderly citizen and then throw up in an alleyway. That would be more manly and less geeky, wouldn't it Muir?
Muir's article only gets deeper and more intuitive in reference to how the non-gaming public refers to games. She just doesn't seem to be able to grasp the concept of "evolution". She says, "Who knew that the generation who first became addicted to Pac-Man and Super Mario would turn out to be boys who never grew up? Man-teens sitting before their kiddy consoles like huge manatees".
It would be wise for Muir to head to a game store and check out the games that are available nowadays. She obviously can't understand that video game consoles are no longer (just) for children, and that they have evolved over time. Cartoons were once only aimed at children. Now, shows like South Park and Family Guy are toons aimed specifically at adults. Does this mean that any adult who watches these shows is a "Man-teen" because he watches cartoons? It's the same logic Muir is trying to get across and she has no idea what she is talking about. Games are more often than not aimed at adults. They are made for adults. Of the 35 Xbox 360 games I own, 32 of them have a rating of M15+ or higher. That means they are recommended for people 15 and above, not children. Like the rest of the non-gaming public, Muir is stuck in a time-loop where she constantly believes that games are made for children and only children. They have evolved, like cartoons, like film, like comics. Not everything is as it was 30 years ago. Things start out small and evolve.
Muir continues, "But the games addiction is only a symptom of the extended childhood of the 21st-century hominid. Marriage, families and children are being delayed for as long as possible, replaced by conspiratorial flat mates and microwave gastropub ready meals. Italian men stay at home with their mother; the British and Americans want to lead a life like an endless episode of Friends."
Damn Muir. Because not every generation can get married at 19, have children at 21 and then be settled down at 29. It's not the way things are done now. People have changed, as has society as a whole. As have video games. Families aren't being "delayed". People are enjoying life and doing what they want to do, not what they have to do. You have the same mentality as my father. He doesn't want me to go overseas but instead wants me to buy a house and invest. I'm 21 years old. And god forbids we socialise with friends everyday in a public place and help each other with our problems. I'm glad I have a friend like Ross, a roommate like Joey and a girlfriend like Monica. Because if I didn't, I'd probably give up on life and hate everything that has anything to do with change, much like how you obviously do, or just can't accept.
The women don't have to wait for the game playing "Man-teens" of this generation. No one is asking them too. But that's not saying that's a problem anyway because it's not. You've blown up the untrue scenario that women of this generation have been burdened with men who stay at home and play video games. Perhaps you should be a man for a day, just so you can see the reaction on a woman's face when you try to chat her up.
Video games are becoming more of an adult male's way to get away from life, relax and enjoy time alone or with his friends, much like how females enjoy reading or sitting around a table and gossiping while sipping coffee or tea. But in saying that, I've lowered myself down to your level and written about stereotypical behavior that is designated to both genders. Who's to say women don't play games and men don't sit around a table and drink coffee or scotch?
This is happening more and more often these days, the non-gaming public is growing into a misinformed and moronic group of society. They can't understand, or accept, change and cannot grasp the concept of video games being more of an adult male thing than a child’s thing. "Xboxes" aren't toys and if they are treated like that, then they've been misused. They are a form of interactive entertainment that has taken advantage of technology and helped evolve a new pastime that can interact with socialising and relaxation. Kate Muir is a mother who obviously doesn't observe her children enough and who doesn't understand the concept of evolution. But chances are that even after all of my blabbering on, I still haven't got my point across. I might go out now and instigate a fight. Or I could just play with my toys.