Why Videogames Are NOT Bullshit

11 Apr

Why Videogames Are Not Bullshit

Penn Jillette gives us his opinion on videogames and why the dismissal they receive from older generations---- is foolhardy

It is an unmistakable reality that many older people view videogames as useless bullshit; utter BS that does absolutely nothing to edify the legions of deluted young kids sitting in front of their TVs with this crazy controller contraption in their hands. And they may even be shouting at their TV or moving their body in odd ways… It’s like they’re part of some cult! RIIIIGHT?

While that viewpoint of our elder generation has begun to change, especially as my generation are now the parental generation and many of them are already in the midst of raising the grandkids of the generation who grew up before the time of videogames; it is still the mainstream conventional wisdom of a generation that does not understand how a videogame works, what a videogame entails, why a videogame exists, who creates these things and, last but definitely not least, why in the world anyone would “waste their time” with this utter foolishness.

However as Penn Jillette, the co-host of “Penn and Teller: Bullshit!”, the hit American documentary TV series from Showtime rightly points out, these elders who disregard videogames without a second glance, are vastly oversimplifying an inherently complex medium of a generation; one in which they don’t even begin to understand and refuse to take the time or offer the open-mind needed to understand what it is they are commenting on or why their view of said medium may be flawed.

It’s paramount to driving a car or watching TV constantly, and then commenting on how that technology works without having the slightest idea of the complexity of what you are commenting on and being completely naive as to what it all entails. Most people who watch TV or drive cars do not put a second thought into the design of what it is they are driving or using, the art behind the creation of it, the complexity of its creation, how it all fits together, and all the people who put their blood-sweat-and-tears into designing, engineering, testing, creating, building, promoting, selling and distributing the hunk of metal that gets them to their work everyday and allows them to go out and buy their coffee and Boston Cream at Dunkin’ Donuts every morning.

Thankfully, there ARE sane individuals in the world like Penn Jillette here, movie director’s Guillermo del Toro, Steven Spielberg and James Cameron, or say videogame sales analyst Michael Pachter, that do not come from the videogame generation, and yet have the sense to recognize its infinite potential, creative genius, and the importance of what videogames bring to the table that is wholly separate, unique and special from any other form of media. Of course for every one of them, there’s a Roger Ebert who rails on videogames as absolutely NOT an art form and a ridiculous waste of time.

So while videogames have still yet to break into the fabric of mainstream society of the 40 years+ generation (much less the 60 years+ generation), we have made inroads and it is good to know that there are those older people out there who do not outright dismiss videogames as a serious medium and form of entertainment. And yet it seems that we are still so far from the “finish line”.

After all, these are the same people who sit in the same spot for hours and hours on end, night after night, and use their “clicker” (as my grandpa eloquently called the TV remote before his passing last year… I can still hear his calls to my grandma, “Ma! Where’s the clicker! I DROPPED THE CLICKER!”) to sift through an ever-increasing amount of mindless drivel that passes as entertainment on that screen sitting in front of them. Many of them have lives that literally revolve around television, and no one dares to speak out against that household object in which everyone owns, everyone watches, and everyone comments on as if it’s the most natural aspect of life. Let’s face it, EVERYONE watches TV. No one asks “Do you watch TV?” Because it is assumed that they do. No, instead they ask “What shows do you watch?” or “Do you watch [insert American Idol/reality TV/late-night comedy/cable news program/daytime talk show, etc.]?”

And yet, for some odd reason, these older folk find it unthinkable that someone would bring up Dragon Age, Skyrim, Zelda, Portal, Madden, Dark Souls, Bioshock or Pokemon at the dinner table (proverbial of course. No one actually sits at a dinner table these days, they are in front of the aforementioned television screen using their clicker to entertain themselves while they eat).

Of course, that same stigma plaguing videogames still haunts the comicbook industry to this day, even though comicbooks are a medium that was actually birthed when the elder generation (our parent’s parents!) were young kids! That stigma has always plagued the comicbook industry and kept them from bursting forth into mainstream thought. When is the last time you heard a news anchor discuss the latest hit movie, and then discuss the sales of the latest hit comic series that week directly after? The answer is never. Because it simply does not happen. Sadly, it is that same stigma that is also attached to videogames and remains so to this day… a stigma that sees videogames and comics as “kids stuff” or “toys”, and nothing more.

As videogames continue to outperform movies in scope, grandeur, complexity, profit, talent and development costs however, it is only a short amount of time before videogames will be discussed on the evening news alongside sneak peeks at the latest Hollywood blockbusters, box office chart overviews and hit media like Twilight, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Star Wars, Sex and the City, and other forms of popular entertainment that do not have “game” in the title.

Makes you wonder if the fact that they are called “games” has been one of the key reasons videogames have been held back all these years. As stated, they are seen as child’s play… And of course, this stigma was greatly enhanced due to the fact that the pre-videogame generation were mostly buying these videogames for their kids. Thus they were seen as “toys”.

Things are coming to a head though, and within the next 20 years or so, a lot of these same people will be long gone, and our generation will be closer to being the ones in positions of power. Game. On.


Posted by on April 11, 2012 in Features, News, Videos


Tags: , , , , , , ,

5 responses to “Why Videogames Are NOT Bullshit

  1. technology4democracy

    April 13, 2012 at 5:41 am

    Nice article. That debate should die already. Didn’t I read on gamepolitics that the US supreme court had recognized video games as a valid artform worthy of all the protections within the US constitution?… But that was a while back I don’t have the link anymore. Personnally I always like to ask people who complain about video games what they do with their free time that so superior?
    What, they go to the Opera? They write literature? It’s like you say, they watch tv…

    • astro64th

      April 13, 2012 at 6:47 am

      Thanks for the comment technology4d! Yeah I believe you’re right about the Supreme Court ruling, at the very least they rules that videogames were no different than other forms of media when it came to free speech protections I believe it was. Something like that. I couldn’t agree more with you, it’s an entirely flawed debate anyway because art is in the eye of the beholder. And like Andy Rooney says in that video I posted in the article, even he thinks certain pieces of art shouldn’t be considered art, and he’s talking about a more traditional art form… i.e. even “artists” don’t agree on what art should be classified as art, much less delving into the classification of other media as art; media most of the naysayers have never even spent time with. It’s kind of like the people who say that billiards is not a sport… is it or isn’t it? Well it depends on how you define “sport”. :P

  2. The Earthnerd

    April 12, 2012 at 8:31 am

    Reblogged this on The Gamer Men.

    • astro64th

      April 12, 2012 at 9:23 pm

      Awesome man thanks a lot! I really appreciate it. :)

      • The Earthnerd

        April 13, 2012 at 7:27 am

        Not a problem… good article!


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