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Why I Stopped Playing Video Games

Swapping one virtual world for another.

by
Dave Swindle

Bio

March 31, 2012 - 12:29 pm
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In Vertigo’s new graphic novel A. D. D.: Adolescent Demo Division media theorist Douglas Rushkoff invokes a childhood fantasy to unleash a prophetic vision of the future.

The teenagers of the Adolescent Demo Division live inside a media-saturated universe. From birth they prepare to star in their own reality television show as professional video gamers and product testers. They live with the dream that if they perform well then someday they can “level up” and graduate to the real world where perhaps they can meet their birth mothers.

However, this immersion in virtual worlds yielded unforeseen consequences their corporate handlers fail to understand. During the time the A.D.D. spent playing video games and giving their opinions on products they developed the ability to “dekh” new interpretations of reality. Their eyes go blue and all of a sudden they perceive hidden connections behind the media narratives:

This vision allows the A.D.D. to see how empty the video game, hyper-consumer lifestyle is. They realize they are in charge of their own destiny and don’t have to live their parents’ dreams.

Not good for the corporate executives relying on the A.D.D. for their bottom line.

But Rushkoff’s comic isn’t firing shots at corporate America.

Read his nonfiction book Life Inc. for the author’s dissection of corporatism’s infiltration of Western culture and lifestyle. I usually hand this one to my progressive friends when they start ranting about corporate greed and the need for government regulations to save us from Mark Zuckerberg. “Yes, I agree with you that corporations do bad things sometimes,” I concede. “But you’re not going to stop them by passing laws and electing Democrats. You need to change yourself and shift the culture if you want to change the world.”

A.D.D. shows us how this actually works in the real world. And don’t let the science fiction props, new media lingo, and thriller plot fool you. This fantastic metaphor of “dekhing” a new reality — similar to the “grokking” of Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land — has basis in reality and Rushkoff’s generation points the direction. The late Andrew Breitbart was only one real life example but there are many more.

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