Ron Purewal replies to my post, Boys and Electronic Games. Ron makes a number of important points. His most interesting argument is that electronic games represent “one of the few places left in our society where boys can still unabashedly be boys”
Mr. Purewal writes:
In that post, you wrote: “Can the outward passivity that is so characteristic of the addicted gamer ever fulfill female romantic longings? Can the addicted gamer acquire the patience and temperament required by marriage and family without a painful and permanent rejection of his habit?”
There will always be a tradeoff between “the patience and temperament required by marriage and family” and “fulfill[ing] female romantic longings”, because most of the qualities of the former are detrimental to the latter, and certainly vice versa. The former can be summed up, roughly, as “stability”, while the latter can be summed up (again, very roughly) as “excitement and danger”. although there are a handful of personal qualities that can be positive in both contexts – such as confidence – most “female romantic longings” involve impetuous, risky, aggressive, devil-may-care characters who are ill suited for any sort of stability.
Ironically, men who are easily bored, thrill-seeking, and annoyed by the inefficiencies of social interaction are much, much more likely to pique a woman’s romantic interest. Much more likely. In short, there’s a reason why romance novels stop at the wedding day.
Second, the problem faced by the addicted gamer in adjusting to marriage is negligible compared to the problem faced by the average American woman, who for her entire life has been coddled and convinced that she can do no wrong and should have no shame, in adjusting to the same situation. Totally negligible.
Third, under older (and, I might add, more feasible) gender roles, the man wasn’t expected to provide social chitchat and discussion of “gray areas”; he was the man of the house. if he were the extroverted type, then that was of course a bonus, but a woman had girlfriends for a reason. In other words, the “problems” you’re citing would not even have been problems even a few decades ago, because marriage was not seen as a relationship in which the man is responsible for pushing every single one of a woman’s attention-getting (and -keeping) buttons.
The gamer’s temperament is certainly not unlike that of famous scientists and other innovators that have lived in various eras. until the last few decades, such men have had no trouble finding and keeping wives, because they weren’t unfortunate enough to live in a culture that tells their wives to walk – and incentivizes them financially to do so – if they feel the slightest bit “unfulfilled” or “bored” in their marriage.
In any case, I see the explosion of “gamers” as a result of the hydraulic pressure of male restlessness and natural male qualities. We live in a culture that has done its best to expunge male-friendly aspects such as competition and horseplay from all parts of childhood. most kids’ sports are now of the “everyone gets the same size trophy” variety, any sort of natural acting-out is punished out of all proportion, and boys are generally punished whenever they fail to act like good girls (even though they aren’t girls).
Our culture also teaches (upper- and upper-middle-class white and Asian) that it’s not ok to fight, to be aggressive, or, in some cases, even to be confident. these qualities are hydraulic – if they don’t vent in one place, then they’ll vent somewhere else. hence, the video-game addiction. Electronic games are one of the few places left in our society where boys can still unabashedly be boys.
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