My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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video games perpetuate A Clockwork Orange

Did you know that teenage video game players are the 21st century version of the droogie gangs depicted in the novel, ‘A Clockwork Orange’? Yes, that’s right – video games are forcing kids into an evil lair where their minds are dreadfully manipulated and they’re learning terrible lessons.

Of course, my favorite part of this article is:

In this connection, we recall the horror of Columbine High School in Colorado. Both Columbine shooters were drenched in the play of ultraviolent video games. At the time, the murders caused a backlash against violent video games, but nowadays, the old ultraviolence has returned like an old friend.

I guess no one informed the authors of this article that it was pretty well shown that Columbine had NOTHING TO DO WITH VIDEO GAMES (or goths or industrial kids). It had everything to do with alienation though. But fear of violence sells newspapers. Just as fear of our kids does. And thus, here we are, another completely inaccurate portrayal of youth and technology.

Here’s another great quote:

Moreover, the addictive quality of video games also encourages kids to stay inside and play in virtual reality. But kids need to be out in the world to become socially capable as well as physically fit. How many of our youth have become emotionally stunted from years of seclusion, unable to relate in normal fashion to the demands of ordinary social relationships?

How many parents allow their kids to go out and play? I live in San Francisco – do i ever see kids on the streets? No. Why? Because parents are afraid. They’re only allowed to go out under supervision, only allowed to play in very specific ways, in formalized activities, in community centers. They can’t hang out on their stoop, play on their streets, play in the park. They can’t socialize because parents won’t let them. Video games let them go into a world that is not controlled by adults, a fantasy world where creativity and exploration are allowed. It is quite common for youth to play with their friends, to have a fantasy world to share. Who wouldn’t prefer the fantasy world to the surveillance world? What would happen if we allowed fantasy to come back to the physical interactions for youth? What if kids could go on adventures outdoors like we used to? Until we deal with our culture of fear, video games are going to be *much* more appealing than everyday space. Not because they are addictive, but because they are simply more fun.

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9 comments to video games perpetuate A Clockwork Orange

  • Heh, and here I thought the today’s perpetuation of A Clockwork Orange would be something like Trainspotting …

  • Just a little comment, if any of find this topic interesting make it a point to watch Michael Moore’s ‘Bowling for Columbine’. Excellent film.

  • Well, the other reason you don’t see kids around in SF is that we have the lowest per-capita number of children of any large city in the US. Something about the disappearing middle class…

  • crzwdjk

    It kind of makes me realize… just how different New York is from most of the rest of the country. Kids there do go out and play. Kind of odd, if you think about it: it’s supposed to be the big scary city, but it’s one of those rare places where kids really do have that extra bit of freedom. It helps that you don’t need a car to go places there too… anyone can take the subway or bus to go over to their friend’s house, or even walk over. It really helps with the keeping of the sanity and the social skills.

  • > I live in San Francisco – do i ever see kids on the streets?

    No, because there are no children in SF! 😉

  • Hrm, this blogware apparently requires quotes in html tag attribues. What I meant to say was that there are no children in SF

  • Yes, games what that in the image, but influence children, and is very strong. Computer games very strongly influence mentality of people. That affects in their future…

  • John

    “…Video games let them go into a world that is not controlled by adults, a fantasy world where creativity and exploration are allowed…” This is so true, I think it’s the reason why I’m still an avid video gamer now that I’m 23. Back when I was 7 my mom would always tell me not to go out because you’ll get hurt or you’ll get knee bruises or other kids would bully you. She restricted me into only going to school and home. At home my only source of fun was my personal computer and my PlayStation2 console. For a kid, it was my only means of self expression and more importantly my only source of fun.