I Knew I Had to Stop When I Wanted to Kill Real Grannies

Fay Weldon for TIMESONLINE:

I have a confession to make. I am a secret videogame enthusiast.

Ask around and you find you are not alone. Many of my fellow writers do it: work until we hit a difficulty, switch to the familiar game, play for a while, and then back to the manuscript, and lo! — the unconscious has used the time miraculously to solve the problem.

However, the games can have strange and troubling effects on one’s perception of reality. I once had a flirtation with a game called Carmageddon, in which one scored points for running down little old ladies. But I stopped, appalled, when I realised that I was beginning to feel the urge to do exactly that in real life. I would feel my hands twitching on the steering wheel, trying to follow a pattern my mind had laid down…

  • http://www.xenex.org/ xen

    I once got glared at because, in explaining that having played Katamari Damacy had given me a sense of what size of things I could roll up, I said, “Like that little boy right there? I could totally pick him up.”

  • Word Eater

    Because of course someone's anecdotal, subjective experience is the equivalent of an actual peer reviewed study. [1]

    I don't play the “evil” options in video games I enjoy specifically because I know how impressionable my emotions are. Playing as the bad guy makes me depressed.

    I make an intelligent choice and play the way that gives me the most enjoyment.

    Afterward, I do *not* decide that my choice should be mandated to everyone else because I know best.

    [1] http://www.videogamevoters.org/pages/games_viol

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/PDDVWRQVUPMKRGHURIEQVNYWHQ Sean

    most of my friends and I play violent shooter games, none of us have or desire to go on killing sprees,
    people that are so easily influenced to violent behavior have issues all their own.

  • tonyviner

    I would be lying if I said that I did not hate old people.

  • Gil

    It is said that hypnotism can't make you do things you don't really want to; I think that applies to many things. Video games, TV, literature, movies, our peers, these are all things that might give us ideas, and that should always be considered positive, whatever those ideas might be and however (directly or indirectly) we get them. We, as (ever so slightly) rational beings, should be encouraged and able to distinguish between the “good ones” and the “bad ones”. I don't play any of these games regularly, yet one day, on a highway, going fast, I suddenly felt an urge to steer rapidly to the left. I didn't, and I thought about it and analysed it and didn't really find out why I felt that urge, but in 3 seconds I was able to laugh at that urge and at the thought of having it. It's possible that someone, somewhere, wasn't and didn't and actually swerved. They then had to deal with the consequences. That's not crazy or dangerous or a product of video games or of deranged minds; that's how life goes. You get urges, you get ideas, and some of them are carried or acted on while others aren't. It's not really fair or even right to deny some people access to some things, whether based on age or gender or whatever. If we all end up dead, so be it. But we might all end up enlightened, too, and that's a risk we should take.

  • http://twitter.com/Dumbsaint Dumbsaint

    Admittedly, I do find myself jumping down random drain pipes and smashing my head against brick surfaces above me in the hopes of finding giant coins or mushrooms.

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