February 19, 2013

Unless you’re a videogame designer, sinking your afternoons and nights into the latest game isn’t a great use of time, even if there’s a soothing, nacreous feeling that accompanies killing digital horses and/or communists for several hours. (Not speaking personally or anything, no.) In making a statement after being announced as the ambassador of Record Store Day 2013, Jack White made a clearly pointed statement about what he sees as culture’s increased distancing from any kind of intimacy between people—some of which has to do with the allure of the controller. As excerpted from a thoughtful post you should otherwise read in full:

How can record shops (or any shop for that matter) compete with Netflix, TiVo, video games that take months to complete, cable, texting, the Internet, etc. etc? Getting out of your chair at home to experience something in the real world has started to become a rare occurrence, and to a lot of people, an unnecessary one. Why go to a bookstore and get a real book? You can just download it. Why talk to other human beings, discuss different authors, writing styles and influences?  Just click your mouse.  Well here’s what they’ll someday learn if they have a soul; there’s no romance in a mouse click.  There’s no beauty in sitting for hours playing video games (anyone proud of that stop reading now and post your opinion in the nearest forum).  The screen of an iPhone is convenient, but it’s no comparison to a 70mm showing of a film in a gorgeous theater. The Internet is two-dimensional…helpful and entertaining, but no replacement for face-to-face interaction with a human being.  But we all know all of that, right?  Well, do we?  Maybe we know all that, but so what?

Which isn’t controversial or anything, but the slightly antagonistic tone—one imagines the sneered lip curling upward as soon as he typed “forum”—makes me wonder if anyone will come out with an explicitly antithetical take. It’s not the first time White’s expressed displeasure with gaming, but he’s never been so forward. But I don’t think it’s necessarily Us vs. Them; rather, it’s a problem that people have with impulse control and balancing of responsibilities, because there’s nothing specifically wrong with blowing off steam in front of a console for a few hours just as long as it doesn’t turn into one’s life… unless, again, you’re a developer. Either way, you should probably buy more records.

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