Friday, March 16, 2007

The war against obsessive game play

I didn't come up with that phrase, this Korea Times article did, linked from Hanna's blog Seoul Digital City. It was only a matter of time. The story is about a Korean venture start-up that has developed an inaudible sound sequence that will tell game players to 'stop playing' at a subliminal level.
Too freaky. Who knows what else they could tell me to do while I'm playing (methinks I gotta stop this recent habit of clucking like a chicken at red lights though). This, in my post Cory Doctorow talk mindset...the implications are numerous for what exactly one may consent to when logging on.
In her informative post, Hanna touched upon some of the complex societal pressures Korean youth face, hinting at various school/family imperatives to excel in studies, along with mandates to increase online education and e-textbooks. The situation seems part and parcel with fallouts of people's modern fetishization of 'E-ness,' including 'obsessive game play' by which some Korean youth have exhibited self-destructive behaviour. So naturally the games are an issue, because unlike their North American counterparts, Korean youth find it really tough to self-destruct with other things like meth because the access just isn't there.
But now I'm being facetious. But there is a point.
Perhaps I could be clearer. Put simply and admittedly generally, why are we targeting the games, or the device when it is abundantly clear to everyone that things like excessive game play are indicators of what is probably a much broader complex societal ill? Is it because in 'treating' something we can put one finger on, we're convincing ourselves that we're fixing things?
I think of the situation as similar to what we often see in Western medicine--treating the symptom rather than the cause. Addiction itself is often diagnosed in in these terms. We can't fix unemployment, the nastiness of Capitalism writ large, kids being abused in their homes, our fragmenting communities, the repercussions of globalization and so on.... so, banning a drug is naturally much more within our reach. So we do that and pat ourselves on the back while spewing 80s war on drugs rhetoric.
The problems are devastating. The behaviour that people engage in to deal with those problems have devastating results. But, the problems are still there.
In the Korean context, we see youth dealing with the world they've been dealt, creating within what has been created. The problems found there or anywhere else, won't be solved with one-variable solutions. I've got my work cut out for me in trying to convince people of that, eh?

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Blogger Neils said...

I'm convinced. =P

1:30 PM  

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