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There’s Two of Me?

If a massive group of students were asked to raise their hands if they’ve played a video game before, chances are more than 95% of them will say yes. The article Uncivilizing Influences: What makes a video game “addictive” by Jeremy Keehn in the Walrus’s January/February 2011’s Bi-Monthly Magazine, the author compares the virtual life of a gamer to his physical life away from the screen. This comparative analysis relates to McLuhan’s main social point: “If the formative power in the media is the media themselves, then we must consider the media in the same way as we consider natural resources. Stress on a few major staples creates extreme instability in the economy.”

In my Communication Studies lecture on January 19th 2011, Dr. Sevigny put McLuhan’s point into more understandable language. He claimed that “If we accept and are living in a symbolic age in which our forbearers would not be able to understand, other than Heaven or Hell, the only realm of symbolic existence in the past was the supernatural. With electronic media, everyone has a dual existence…we are two people in one identity.” To most gamers, their dual existence is second nature. Keehn’s article is a very good example of this because he deliberately narrates two potential storyboards for a gamer’s evening in the very first paragraph.

The paragraph immediately catches the eye of whoever is  reading his article, no matter who it is because it relates to society and its past   cultural events. His audience is expansive since everyone can relate to the ph ysical life in which he mentions, and younger generations are able to (hopefully) relate to both. I say hopefully because some youngsters might be so blindfolde d by the virtual world that they fail to recognize or realize the potential they have in  the real, or physical, world.

By using specific examples within the article, Keehn allows a particular section of his intended audience to relate to the comparisons he is making. He brings to attention the fact that “[e]arly reviews echoed the sentiment, with writers making frequent sport of Civ’s ability to induce players to stay seated for ‘just one more turn.’” Civ being Sid Meyer’s newest edition (version 5) of the Civilization collection, released last year. That itching feeling to play the game for “just one more turn” is the driving factor that keeps consumers glued to the screen; it keeps them stuck in the virtual world, as you might say.

In Brian Schmoyer’s neck-prickling, experience-fueled video (below) about video-game addiction, he “offers [it] as a lesson to all those willing to listen.” I hate to admit that I’ve watched this video more than once as well as shown it to friends, anticipating their reaction by the end.

Although games are addictive, they definitely aren’t addictive in the same way that cigarettes or alcohol are.  There isn’t a term for it, anyways. Besides “video game addiction”, but in that sense you can be addicted to anything, including blogging… it would be called “blogging addiction”?

We must realize that a) many older generations haven’t realized they possess a second life and b) masses of young people constantly take advantage of their secondary existences and neglect their physical lives and the values of life itself. If we can find a balance between spending time in front of video games (or any other screen for that matter), I believe that we’ll be more attuned to the vital values of life and feel more positively about our achievements and ourselves as human beings with dual existences.

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