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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Room for Debate

There are secret places on the internet that no one is watching. They are places where children romp and grownups stomp, and the seeds of a thousand villainies are laid and hatched.

For the most part they are designed to avoid confrontations of an undesirable nature, for their inventors and designers and tenders find confrontation does not profit them. Some of them are even moderated privately or safeguarded with filters.

Nonetheless, in these rooms I have uncovered politics and lives beyond my pale. I have discussed taxes with middle-easterners and tariffs with Serbians. Law-enforcement with Swedes. I have asked South Africans how the ANC is doing and received politically incorrect answers for which there will be no penalties.

After all, no one is watching these places. No one thinks they have value, or imagines them dangerous.

These places are “games.”

The effect is most pronounced in a game in which I have immersed myself more recently, EVE Online. I won’t waste your time with the mechanics of the game itself, but the game has only one server, and that server hosts people from just about everywhere. We don’t all speak the same language, and sometimes we don’t even use the same alphabet on our keyboards. We collide in channels and clusters and local spaces where we trade words, curses, philosophies and politics with a freedom even the founding fathers would have found daunting.

I have trafficked in these spaces (in dozens of games) with politicians, businessmen, physicists, political scientists and laborers, students, professors, teachers of music, artists and all manner of other men who have found their way to these spaces from places so far from my understanding it begs questions of the consistency of space-time.

I have argued with religious men, with atheists, with priests and with paupers, with the young and with the old.

If I were inclined to be a censor, I would encourage the government to take an active interest in those spaces it is presently ignoring. But I am not, and (fortunately) no government agency is going to be easily persuaded to take these spaces seriously. So instead, this rather takes the form of an invitation to those of you inclined to such things, to search these spaces out with an open mind and a bone to pick.

‘Games’ have come a long way while you were sleeping.

Wake up.

1 comment:

Marcus Tullius Tiro said...

Ironically, "Room for Debate" is the name of the NY Times blog that precipitated my angry letter to Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH). To which, not surprisingly, I have not received a reply.

I have noticed Sen. Brown (and his wife) appearing on TV, etc., a surprising number of times lately, though. I'm assuming its just one of those 'once you notice something, you see it everywhere' things, and not some larger plot by the DNC to slowly drive me insane, though...