From the March 2002 Idaho Observer:

Electronic Entertainment: The Not-Doing of Life

by Christie Cassel

Jayson stood in front of a screen with a joystick in hand. His eyes jumped in rhythm with each punch, with each scream. Mortal Combat was the game. His gaze was intense; he was into it with not his body but his mind. A gunshot could have gone off behind him and he wouldn't have turned his head. Suddenly, he backed away, shaking his head. He was drained like he had just run a marathon, but he had only lost the game. It's as if he had been in a real-life brawl and limped away defeated. Scorpian was dead, and Jayson had barely even moved.

From drag racing and big-breasted anime women to creating your own city, the electronic entertainment world has you covered. Whatever your fantasy, it can be accomplished virtually without even breaking a sweat. If you're anything like Jayson you can be Scorpion, Sonya Blades, or various other Mortal Combat characters and exorcise your latent aggression through a joystick until you're dead. When that gets old, try Bloody Roar. Cool Boarder will take you down the slopes and you don't even have to waste time on the lifts. 3 Extreme has skateboarding, biking, and rollerblading all in one. If you've always wanted to go hunting but would rather not get your feet cold or spend money on supplies, play Deer Hunter.

My favorite is Deer Hunter Revenge. You're the deer fighting back. You can shoot the hunters with beer can guns, use a beer scent to lure them closer and make the hick call, “Free beer!” Imagine all the places you can go and skills you can master without even leaving the couch.

Electronic entertainment today imitates the full spectrum of human experience by sucking people into a multitude of virtual escapades. The psychological has taken over the physical, and has deprived youth of the actual “doing” of life. Why build forts or play army when you can kill people and steal their weapons? Why risk the rejection of asking a girl on a date when you can have lusty anime chicks in full color on a computer screen?

If you can't think of a good reason for not participating in the real world, then you're already trapped in the madness and not worth my time. I'm not interested in saving junkies, but I do want to see a future where my contemporaries are not so entangled in this electronically-induced insanity that they cannot function in the real world.

The doing of life is treating life like an adventure and not a chore or something to get out of. Doing life is getting up in the morning, breathing fresh air and doing industrious things independent of electronic game playing. Hiking, biking, mowing the lawn, reading and writing are all “doing” of life” activities. Playing games offered by the electronic entertainment industry is the “not doing” of life.

In the 70s new tennis courts were being built everywhere because they were in demand. People were doing life and it was real. Now weeds have overgrown courts that people once stood in line to use.

I remember even in my recent childhood in the early 90s playing hide and seek and kick the can. No corporation will ever be able to profit from games like these because they came from inside of us. We used our imagination to create our own fun. Looking back I can remember those times and smile. Unfortunately, electronic entertainment is robbing us of this gift and replacing it with artificial simulations of the necessary elements of actually living. The vitality of life is becoming obsolete.

I want to live in a world where my kids get in real fights and come home bruised and bloody rather than watch them spend hours every day in a virtual reality playing street fighting games. I don't want them to spend a single chapter of their life feeding quarters into a machine at an arcade.

There's something more to life than going through the motions. There's something more to death than losing the game.


Christie Cassel is a 16-year-old college student who is concerned that her contemporaries are trading their actual life for virtual reality and that by “not-doing” life they will be incapable of doing it when the time comes when they must.

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