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July 08, 2024

Oort Cloud Oddities: Corrupting Games

By Alexandra Queen

Someone tried to insult me by calling me a "soccer mommy" the other day. It was in a multiplayer computer game, and I had just snotted off to him. I had butted in and labeled him a misogynist for his despicable advice to another player about how to treat a girlfriend, so I wasn't really surprised when he tossed some rude comments my way.

In fact, it made me laugh. Three mornings a week, I do get together with other mothers at the park, where we do "mommy" things like exercise, exchange recipes and watch the children play.

For like five minutes.

Then, once the kids are safely distracted, we set about the serious business of tearing down the world and building it back up again. Art, creativity, morality, and politics. Especially the politics. We bring books, newspaper clippings, videos, magazines, website urls. We cite college professors, police officers, religious leaders, business professionals, military members. C-Span, Fox news, CNN, the Limbaugh Letter and Move-On.Org. We research financial connections, seek legal precedent and analyze policies in other countries. We discuss sensible plans and hash out the repercussions of wild ideas. Then we pass out snacks, send the kids back to the playground, and discuss criteria for our favorite topic: the death penalty. ("How do we solve the problem of the death penalty being racist?" "Execute more white criminals!")

I suppose we should be talking about shoes or dieting. Sometimes those topics do come up. But more often, we're brainstorming social justice and political reform. I specialize in the impractical, radical suggestions: Want to vote? Enlist in the military or the Peace Corps and spend two years giving humanitarian aid in a third world country! Want more energy without harming the environment? Let's build nuclear power plants (put it all on red and spin that wheel!), solar power panels on every home, and make hybrid cars mandatory! Want to stop the spread of moral corruption? Ban computer games!

Yeah, that's right. My misogynistic buddy on the computer game may think soccer mommies are the problem, but I put forth the theory that he and the games to which he (uh, not me, honest) is addicted are the leading cause of what's wrong with the world today.

The American Psychological Association has published articles saying that violent games increase violent behavior. Hillary Clinton has nearly swooned at the downloads for Grand Theft Auto that provide "adult" content. A thirty-year-old friend of mine received a scolding such as she hadn't endured since the age of six when her mother came over for a surprise visit and found that my friend had installed the download for the "Sims" that makes them appear nekkid. The evidence is clear. Computer games corrupt decent people.

And it's not just the violent or smutty games that are bad. Even a simple game of Solitaire can corrupt. I have discovered that if you press CTL-ALT-Delete, you can shut down the Solitaire game before it has a chance to record your game as a loss. So now I have a 100% win rating on my Solitaire record. On my own computer. That no one sees or cares about but me. So the only person I am cheating is myself.

"How pathetic is that?" I revealed my own lack of integrity (corroded away by computer games) at a family dinner. My husband laughed. My mother looked disgusted. But my father stared at his plate and turned red.

My father is one of the most profound, wise and spiritual people I know. I was shocked when he blurted, "My computer lets me save games, so I just save them when I'm one move away from winning, then re-play that game over and over again about twenty-five times to boost my win percentage." If computer games can turn my dad to the Dark Side, they can defile anyone.

I told all this to my group of mommies as my latest concept of what's wrong with the world today. They mulled it over for a few moments, then announced: "Death penalty for people who cheat at computer games?"

"And misogynists," nodded one of the others.

"But only if they're convicted without a doubt. No circumstantial evidence."

"What about people who just play computer games a lot?"

"I think they should fall under the three strikes law."

I better get a good lawyer. Sounds like my lady-hating online buddy and I are in a lot of trouble.

Comments and ways to cheat at Solitaire to Alex.Queen@gmail.com.

This article first appeared in the Manteca (Calif) Bulletin

Article © Alexandra Queen. All rights reserved.
Published on 2005-10-03
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