Are we Amusing Ourselves to Death?


I had an interesting game of email “ping-pong” with Sarah after my short post about my personal religion with HALO. The gaming blog transpired into an informal conversation on the healthiness of entertainment media on youths across cultures, be it Gaming, Internet or TV in Singapore or America. We decided to compile our email discussion online for everyone to share their thoughts…

New comment on your post #20 “HALO 2 is COMPLETE!”
Wednesday, October 6, 2004 12:28 PM

Sarah: Why haven’t I gotten mine? because we don’t have X-box (I know, I know) nor do we have a computer that can handle the game. Oddly enough though, my husband keeps reminding me that Halo 2 is coming out soon. He also keeps reminding me that the price of the gaming system is dropping. The catch to his hints? He wants me to play because he like to play with someone. Can I send him to your place Kevin? ­čÖé

Kevin: Gaming seems to be a really big thing nowadays. I was a little embarrassed to talk about my love for games to anyone at first since most people might consider me “childish”. In fact, I was brought up in a family that condoned computer games (so I would study more), thus I had to find other ways to entertain myself. As I am no longer a kid, I wonder if it’s still healthy for adults like us to play computer/console games. Hmm… Anyway, do come by for one of our HALO nites… we always have room for new players and would love to trade our gaming experiences. Players comes with “an offering” in the form of food, drinks or tips ($$$) just to make sure that everyone is happy and that the weekly event can be sustained (e.g. electrical bills, gaming equipment maintenance).

Sarah: If you don’t mind me asking, where did you grow up. I know we mentioned in the first class where we all lived but I can’t remember! I remember learning in Cross-cultural psychology about how Asian cultures (generalizing here) pushed their kids to study, study, study. In my family we did not watch much TV when I were young, instead I played outside. When my brother was younger (he’s 4 years younger than me) he was allowed a game station which I felt he played too much. I think there is some effect because he really didn’t learn social skills until late high school years. I, on the other hand, was very social and in many clubs. Still even if we wanted to watch TV we have to make sure our homework was done first. Even now, the TV is on at my parents more than it used to be, but mom or dad will also be reading at the same time. They also watch mostly “educational” shows. It’s interesting to think about how that (TV, gaming, childhood) affects you. My husband (Dave) and I were actually talking about adult gaming and where the line should be drawn. Maybe we could all get into it sometime. I have dial-up so I am not on all the time. I would definately be interested in stopping by, especially with Dave in town. He’d be thrilled. And I’d remember a “donation”. (Haha, you should have a sign “please make a donation to the Halo fund at…”) Thanks!

Kevin: I grew up in Singapore. I understand what you are talking about. In the past, when TV was the “Internet” of today, parent made a big deal of it. Now TV is a normal thing and they tend to forget. The danger is that these entertainment media while useful in allowing us to escape reality, has let our youths “escape” to a point where they might not wish to come back down to earth and face reality. I agree that Asian culture has more emphasis on studying. Though modernization in technology and culture has changed people’s emphasis about it. We are literally “Amusing Ourselves to Death” (Good book by Neil Postman).

Sarah: I have not read that Postman book yet (I’ve been looking to buy a used copy) but I really want to. I have “Technopoly” which is also by him but I’ve been too caught up with school work to get anything else read. I didn’t even think of how TV concerns have been substituted for concerns about Internet. Dave and I were talking about individuals we know who “escape” far too often. One guy we worked with and tried to play DnD with was like that. He was not capable of having a normal conversation of dealing with reality in any way, shape or form. It was sad really. Others we know play xbox almost every night while their wives watch TV. How much are they missing out on?

8 thoughts on “Are we Amusing Ourselves to Death?

  1. Perhaps this is where the it is important to possess critical faculty. While having critical faculty is having the ability to sense and take action on questionable information, we can apply it here where things aren’t simply what they seem. One way your friend could “realize” his position as an obsessed D&D fan would be to take video captures of his life and show it to him. In a way, the video acts as a third eye which would allow him to see his external self as seen by others. Perhaps this might encourage him to adjust himself to be more compatible with the rest of society. I believe this is why reality TV such as MTV Real World is so popular because we are not really watching strangers in their everyday lives… we are really watching ourselves!

    A quote about critical faculty:
    “If we consider the works in their untouched actuality and do not deceive ourselves, the result is that the works are as naturally present as are things . . . the one by Van Gogh that represents a pair of peasant shoes, travels from one exhibition to another. Works of art are shipped like coal from the Ruhr and logs from the Black Forest.” – Martin Heidegger The Origin of the Work of Art (1935-36)

  2. World Cyber Games draws 700 players Worldwide
    SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) — For the world’s best video game players, getting the high score is no longer enough. With total cash prizes of about $400,000 spread out over eight tournaments, this year’s World Cyber Games championships adds big money to the test of fast reflexes and superhuman eye-hand coordination. There’s certainly no shortage of cash in the gaming industry today: The business rakes in $10 billion annually in the U.S. alone.

    Source: CNN Technology News

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