The Age of Video [Game] Violence?

Who needs another [nonviolent] distraction? Here’s one surely to bring you back to the good old days when video games didn’t involve larceny, homicide, rape, and other human atrocities. Sure, a few blinking ghosts get whacked, or the round chomping mouth bleeps and “expires,” but does Pac-Man promote violence like the electronic video games of today? What’s astonishing to me is that in spite of the game’s low tech graphics, lo-fi music, and bare bones storyline, I still experience a high level of suspense and excitement trying to make Pac-Man outrun the hungry ghosts. How about you?

I like Pac-Man, and I’ll be curious to know what scores you all pull down on Google’s web version of the classic arcade game (see the link above). But this post is also a roundabout way to give a nod to the Supreme Court’s recent review of another free-speech challenge: Whether U.S. states can ban the sale of violent video games to minors. The public radio stalwart Diane Rehm had a show about this very issue last month that’s worth a listen.

Do you suppose Lou Highness was referenced (with a slight emendation to his poetry) in the Supreme Court decision or dissent?

The currents rage, the dawn’s upon us
This is the age of Video [game] Violence
No age of reason landing upon us
This is the age of Video [game] Violence

Na Na Na Na Na Na
Na Na Na Na Na Na

1 thought on “The Age of Video [Game] Violence?

  1. wildbillyscircusstory

    Hard to believe its been thirty years for Pac-Man. I remember playing the game at the A&P supermarket every day after swim team practice. Every kid with a spare quarter huddled around that machine awaiting their turn for glory. Whatever money I had at that time went toward baseball cards or Pac-Man.

    I wouldn’t characterize the game as “violent”. True, the ghosts can be consumed, but they never truly die and regenerate shortly after their consumption. Pac-Man ultimately faces death, but his death is rather benign and almost a mercy killing.

    It’s been a while since I’ve studied philosophy in any meaningful way, but there’s a certain existential-sisyphian element of the game. Pac-Man, like Sisyphus, must complete the same task repeatedly until he ceases to exist. When he clears one level, he finds the same daunting task awaits him again. However, he must contend with four ghosts pursuing him as he seeks to complete his endeavor.

    The ghosts stalk Pac-Man in the manner of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse tracing humanity. The absurdity of his task and its concommitant dangers are not unlike mankind’s. Unfortunately for Pac-Man, he never seems to find a raison d etre, but sometimes a tasty pretzel or cherry comes his way. Then again, I’ve been prone to over-analyzation.


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