Let’s Talk About the Power of Isolation

We’ve all had one of those moments: you’re alone at night.  Everything’s quiet.  Everything’s still.  Maybe you’re reading a good book or watching television or something when an unexpected noise causes you to jump, alarm bells ringing in your head.  There’s usually a reasonable explanation for it, such as the cat knocking something over (or, in my case, deciding to run a marathon through the house in the middle of the night), or just the creaks and groans of an old house.  You’ll look back on it a few minutes later and laugh at how foolish you looked.  You’ll be glad no one was around to see it.  But that moment of panic, that moment when you weren’t sure what you heard and your adrenaline started kicking in?

That, my friends, is the power of isolation.

 

Isolation is one of the most powerful tools in a storyteller’s arsenal.  It’s an effective way to immerse your audience in a setting.  Isolating a character means that, in the absence of another person to talk to, their surroundings come to the forefront.  In this way, the setting itself can become a character.

One of the most apparent examples of this comes from Stephen King’s “The Shining”.  The Overlook Hotel is shrouded in menace and mystery all throughout the book, especially room 217 which is implied to be one of the most haunted in the hotel.  Throughout the majority of the book very little actually happens until the last two hundred pages or so, but the raw tension and the sense that something is wrong with the hotel permeates the entirety of the story.

This “wrongness” pervades the film adaptation as well.  The layout of the hotel is purposefully surreal and the impossibility of it factors into the tense atmosphere throughout the film.  That, combined with the quick cuts and jarring camera angles, makes for a very unsettling watch, even if nothing truly makes you jump out of your skin.

Isolation as a tool to enhance horror doesn’t just extend itself to movies and books.  Video games have put that idea to great effect as well, and I would even argue in greater ways than either.  For the longest time, horror video game fans wanted a game set in the “Alien” franchise that mimicked the first movie more than the second one.  And they finally got it back in 2014 when “Alien: Isolation” (hey, isolation is even in the name!) released.  Unlike previous game adaptations (which focused more on the sequel “Aliens” with its more action-heavy tone), “Isolation” puts you on a broken down space station with a singular alien lurking throughout the game.

The sense that you’re being hunted is present throughout the game.  And that’s because…well…you are.

“Isolation” also takes after the first movie in the sense that all the technology is retro ’70s style, right down to the CRT computer monitors.  It creates a strangely believable science-fiction setting.

I remember back when I took a class on science-fiction and fantasy back in college, we talked about isolation as one of the cornerstones of science-fiction.  But isolation isn’t just locked into the sci-fi and horror genres.  You can find it at play in many things, including “Myst”, a game I have talked about many times.  From the moment you start playing, you’re hit with the sensation of being alone.  Nothing pushes you forward aside from your own curiosity.

 

That feeling of solitude is one of the reasons people so fondly remember “Myst”. Very few games at the time really nailed that sense of being alone, of being on your own personal journey.

 

The idea of being left to your own devices is why “Myst” and other point and click adventure games appealed to me so much.  I liked being forced to wander and figure things out at my own pace, rather than have the game point me in a direction and say “go”.  This open-ended style is something that has only just recently crept back into gaming consciousness, particularly with the advent of survival crafting games such as “Minecraft”.  But regardless, isolation is a very powerful that can pull people into your fictional world.

And hey, sometimes a little solitude isn’t a bad thing.  Everyone needs to be left to their own whims every once in a while.

 

Thanks for reading!  Check back on the third Wednesday of next month for another post.  Have a wonderful January folks!

You can like the Rumination on the Lake Facebook page here or follow me on Twitter here.

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Let’s Talk About Space

SPAAAAAAAAAAAAACE!!!

Sorry, had to get my Portal 2 reference out of the way.

But yes, space.  It’s big.  Like…really big.  In fact, unfathomably big.  It’s so big that some of the things we can see through our telescopes actually occurred thousands of years ago because it took that long for the light to reach us.

So yeah, it’s big.

But that doesn’t stop us from wanting to know everything about it.

Why is that?  What is it about this vast expanse of mostly nothing that entices us so?  Some might say because we could find resources or other life out there, something that would benefit us as a species.  But I don’t think the answer is necessarily that pragmatic.

Think back to when Galileo was gazing through his telescope at the stars above.  Was he doing so because he was concerned with the state of the planet’s resources?  Did he have a longing to discover alien life?  I doubt it.  In fact, I think Galileo was looking up there simply because he could.  Simply because he wanted to know.

Let’s use a metaphor for more context: say you have a baby with a toy next to them.  They haven’t focused on it in a long time and show no interest in playing with it.  But the moment you move to take it away, they suddenly turn and reach for it, almost like saying “GIMME GIMME GIMME I WANT IT”.  Because sometimes it’s when you can’t have something that you want it the most.

 

 

Space is something that, despite our technological advancements, we still have yet to conquer.  And that irks us and makes us want to know more about it, as if to say “screw you universe, we’ll learn your secrets someday”.  Because much of what humanity has accomplished came to be simply because we could.  Fly like the birds?  We can do that.  Go beneath the waves and enter the world aquatic?  Hell yeah bro, we got this.  There may have been some crucial discoveries that we made along the way which improved the quality of our lives, but I bet the beginning of all that was a lot less focused.  It was about exploration and discovery.  It was about the chance not to learn something specific, but to see what we could learn.

I remember when I was younger, I had this telescope that I ended up barely using.  Because back then, I was just a kid.  My major concerns were little more than when I got to see my friends again and my homework for school.  But now that I’m older, I wouldn’t mind getting back into the stargazing hobby.  Not because it’s going to be my career or anything, but because I find space so fascinating to think about.

It’s more than that too.  Gazing into space gives you a perspective unlike any other, shows you just how insignificant you are in the grand scheme of the cosmos.  And while that might sound cold and disheartening to some, I don’t see it that way.  I see it as a sign that there’s so much more out there, so much more for us to see and do.  That perspective makes me want to safeguard this planet and our species for as long as we can, so that future generations can grow and add to our collective knowledge.  Understanding that our planet is a minute speck in the blackness shows me just how petty and stupid our wars are, how inconsequential they are on a grander scale.

I want our future generations to be able to go out there, to see all there is to see and to experience the wonders of the universe.  And hey, maybe they’ll run into another species that dealt with those same quandaries, those same problems of war and pollution and resource scarcity.  Maybe they’ll meet other creatures who dared to ask that simple, yet haunting question:

Are we alone?

 

Thanks for reading!  Check back on the third Wednesday of next month, and have a great new year.

You can like the Rumination on the Lake Facebook page here or follow me on Twitter here.

Spotlight: September 1999

Every once in a while you come across something you weren’t quite expecting, something that manages to surprise you.  “September 1999” was that something for me.

I stumbled onto this game while browsing the Steam store one day (Steam is a digital service for buying and downloading games).  There isn’t much of a description on the store page.  It simply reads “a free, VHS styled, first-person found footage horror game, which runs exactly for 5 minutes and 30 seconds.”

That last part is intriguing no?  Why exactly five minutes and thirty seconds?  I won’t lie, that’s what really got me interested in playing it.

Now I’m going to go ahead and describe the entirety of the five and a half-minute experience, so if you want to see it for yourself you can download it and play it for yourself before continuing.  It is free to play after all.

But without further ado, let’s get into it.

 

 

 

 

18 September 1999, 03:24

It’s the middle of the night, and the wind howls outside.  The rain is coming down hard, and occasionally the sound of thunder rips through the air.  Cans and bottles of what is presumably alcohol litter the place, some left carelessly lying on the floor.  A single mattress with a leopard-skin blanket lies on the floor along with a small radio.  A tiny lamp sits on the floor, the only light in this dingy little room.

 

 

Outside there is a small hallway with three doors and a window with blinds on it.  There is a door at the end of the hallway with a metal bolt holding it shut.  There is a Bible lying on a small table as well as a picture near the window that might be of some sort of crucifixion.

 

 

After a couple of minutes, the tape ends.

 

19 September 1999, 01:14

The silence is immediately apparent.  No rain, no wind, no thunder.  Again, it is very late into the night.

A moment passes, then a sort of knocking or pounding makes itself known.  It’s coming from the door with the metal bolt.  It only lasts for a few seconds before the silence regains its dominion.  The tape ends.

 

21 September 1999, 04:01

Red and blue lights flash outside the window, which is now boarded up.  The garbled, indistinct sound of a radio dispatcher reaches your ears.  Someone is knocking on the front door.

It is dark.  No lights are on anymore.  Continuing down the hallway, you enter the small bedroom from before.  Scanning around the room, you don’t see much at first, but when you approach the bed, you notice it isn’t empty anymore.

 

 

A figure wrapped in some kind of tarp or bag lies on the bed, motionless.  As you get closer, a chill runs down your spine.  You can hear…

…hear…

……breathing.

 

22 September 1999, 21:11

Someone’s crying behind the bolted door.  Trails of blood are all over the floor in the hallway.  The faint sound of classical music creeps into the hallway.  It’s coming from the bedroom.

As you enter, the room is pitch black.  Continuing forward, the mattress seems to dissolve into existence out of the darkness, this time on its side and covered in blood.  What appears to be body parts wrapped in plastic lie on the floor, and the walls are covered in plastic sheets stained with crimson droplets.  The tape ends.

 

Pictured above: a stock photo of a cute kitten instead of bloody body parts.

 

 

 

30 September 1999, 04:01

The camera lies on the hallway floor, perhaps carelessly left recording.  After a few seconds, the unmistakable sound of a chainsaw revving up comes from somewhere off to the left.  It growls and roars, the sound guttural and intense.  The tape, and the story, end there.

 

Analysis

In a way, “September 1999” reminds me of “Thirty Flights of Loving”.  Both games take a minimalist approach to storytelling.  But whereas the latter bored me with its presumptuous focus on style rather than substance, “September 1999” really intrigued me with its focus on you observing the details in your surroundings and then interpreting their implications.

And there is a strong implication behind the things you see:

The person behind the camera is a serial killer.

A number of things led me to that conclusion.  The blood is the obvious one, but it’s really the second to last tape that cemented it for me.  The bloody body parts are one thing, but then there’s the plastic stuck to the walls.  Clearly this is someone who has done this before.  He/she knows that using plastic on the walls will make the blood easier to clean up afterwards.

And then there’s the bolted door.

Initially, during that second tape, I didn’t know exactly what the pounding was.  But after I finished and my mind was going back over things, I realized something: it wasn’t a person asking to be let in.  It was someone begging to be let out.

“September 1999” really succeeded for me in terms of a short experience in video game storytelling.  It knows its limitations, and doesn’t try too hard to tell a story beyond its reach.  “Thirty Flights of Loving”, on the other hand, seemed to want to tell a complex story but with all the fluff ripped out of it (it worked for some people…I just wasn’t one of them).  “September 1999” doesn’t have any characters, dialogue, or really any sort of game mechanics aside from walking around and observing.

But for what it was, it worked.

I’ve always been a bigger fan of horror that does its job through subtlety and unease, as compared to the usual tactic of things jumping at you and screaming.  I understand why that tactic is so common.  It’s cheap and easy, whereas setting up a tense atmosphere takes time and effort.

“September 1999” doesn’t throw itself in your face.  It doesn’t try to scare you with loud noises or cheap musical cues.  In fact, the nonchalant way it presents what’s happening actually makes it all the more horrifying.  My conclusion was that the person behind the camera was simply recording everything for their own pleasure, to have a record of the atrocity they committed.  And that realization sends a chill down my spine.

“September 1999” won’t resonate with everyone.  Some people will find it boring.  Some will probably see it as pretentious.  But for what it is, it’s an interesting narrative experiment, and one I liked a lot more than “Thirty Flights of Loving” (it might have helped that “September 1999” is free, whereas “Thirty Flights of Loving” you have to pay for).  It’s a sign that games have, can, and will continue to experiment and evolve.

 

Thanks for reading!  Check back in a month for my next post, and as always, have a wonderful month.

You can like the Rumination on the Lake Facebook page here or follow me on Twitter here.

Let’s Talk About What Makes Effective Horror

‘Tis the season of ghosts and ghouls, spooks and scares.  The air carries a chill and the leaves are falling.  Halloween is just around the bend and it’s the time to celebrate all things scary.

I’ve talked a lot about my affinity for everything horror in the past on this blog, but it’s been very scattershot and all over the place.  So this time I’d like to just sit down and focus entirely on it and explain what, in my opinion, makes for effective horror.

If you’ve followed my blog long enough, you know that I’ve made it no secret my disappointment with the state of horror when it comes to Hollywood movies.  So many of them are just loud and annoying, filled to the brim with cheap scares.  When I reviewed “Blair Witch” back in 2016, I mentioned how it seemed to be everything the original movie wasn’t: obnoxious and full of quick, cheap jumpscares.  Instead of the slow-paced, tension focused build up of the original, we got a movie that was so lazy it even has one of the characters mutter “stop doing that” after it pulls a double jumpscare.  There were some genuinely creepy moments, but they weren’t allowed to leave a lasting mark as the next loud, obnoxious thing popping up in front of the camera wasn’t far away.

And when I see trailers for The Conjuring 15 or Insidious Chapter 257, all I see is a lot more of the same: jumpscares and demons.  Ooh you’re really breaking new ground there guys.

To me, for horror to be effective, it needs to be allowed to sit for a while.  There needs to be a kind of atmosphere to it, something that slowly unsettles and winds you up so that when the metaphorical shoe inevitably drops, it has more of an impact.  Most big budget horror movies these days rely on loud, quick scares as a crutch.  And sure, some of them might be scary in the moment, but they’re not memorable.  There’s a reason people still talk about movies like “The Exorcist” and “Halloween” but nobody is going to remember the 2016 “Blair Witch” or any of the “Insidious” movies once enough time passes.

Why do you think they keep producing sequel after sequel?  Because they know that a horror movie’s time is short-lived.  If they can keep pumping out more movies, they can keep it in the public consciousness for longer and make more money.

It’s the same thing with video games.  “Five Nights at Freddy’s” may have been a huge hit, but part of its lasting popularity has to do with the quick turnaround in games.  The first game hit in August of 2014.  The second game hit in November…of 2014.  The third game dropped in March of 2015 and…you get the idea.  Part of the quick turnaround had to do with how the games were designed, but whether intentional or not, this quick turnaround is what led to its staying power.

But while the fans go ape over the deliberately obscure story or make weird fan porn of the characters (don’t go looking for it…seriously…there isn’t enough bleach in the world to wipe your eyes clean after that), no one really talks about the actual gameplay itself anymore, which boils down to a trial and error waiting game.  And if you fail?  BLARG!  Jumpscare.

Compare that then to a game like “Amnesia: The Dark Descent”, which still ranks as one of my top scariest games of all time.  In that game you don’t even see a monster for the first hour or so.  Instead, much of the time is spent wandering around a castle gleaming clues as to why you’re there in the first place.  By the time the game draws back the curtain and sends something shrieking after you, the atmosphere has settled in and you’ve been drawn in enough to make the appearance more startling than it would be if there was a monster right behind the first door you encounter.  Even that developer’s earlier “Penumbra” series of games utilized the power of tension and atmosphere, choosing to build up suspense before throwing something at the player.

 

 

Despite all that I’ve said, jumpscares aren’t a bad thing.  It’s just that, by themselves, jumpscares aren’t necessarily creepy or scary.

I get it, it’s far easier to Google search “scary faces”, grab a stock scream sound effect and crank the decibels up until you’re not certain if that ringing in your ears was always there or not.  But if your intent is to create something that is truly lasting, something that will make someone afraid of the dark for a few days or a week after they’ve finished with it, you need more than just loud noises.  You need ambiance.  You need suspense.  You need lighting.  But most importantly, you need to ground it in some way.  You can have all the jumpscares and mood lighting in the world, but if your audience/player base can’t buy into the scenario you’ve crafted, you’ll have lost them long before you reveal what goes bump in the night.

 

Thanks for reading!  Check back on the third Wednesday of next month, and have a great Halloween!

You can like the Rumination on the Lake Facebook page here or follow me on Twitter here.

Spotlight: Southern Reach Trilogy

 

These books are weird.  Like…really weird.

But it’s their weirdness that makes them so fascinating.

The Southern Reach trilogy is a series of books that revolve around a place known as Area X, a patch of now uninhabited wilderness that’s being slowly changed by an unseen force.  The official story to the outside world is that of an ecological disaster, but the reality is far more sinister and unknown.  “Southern Reach” refers to the organization tasked with investigating the mysterious phenomenon.

The first book is called “Annihilation”.  You might recognize the title, as the book was made into a movie that released back in March.  However, the movie diverges from the book quite a bit, so even if you’ve seen the movie you won’t know exactly what to expect.

“Annihilation” opens with four characters standing in front of a strange tower leading underground in Area X.  They are known only by their specialties.  There is the Biologist, the Surveyor, the Psychologist, and the Anthropologist.  Their task is to investigate Area X and see what they can find out about it.  Early on, it is revealed that the Biologist (played by Natalie Portman in the movie) had a husband who was on the expedition prior to hers and died from cancer after returning under mysterious circumstances.  “Annihilation” plays out like you would expect from a science-fiction story about people undertaking an expedition into an unknown area: bad stuff happens, people die, paranoia sets in, and so on.  Unlike the movie, “Annihilation” ends on an uncertain note, leaving things up in the air.

The second book, “Authority”, takes a deeper look at the Southern Reach organization itself.  Our main character is John Rodriguez, who takes to calling himself “Control”.  He is sent into the Southern Reach to become its new director, and he investigates the aftermath of the expedition from the first book as well as the organization itself.  This one reads more akin to a thriller or a spy novel, with subterfuge and secrets abound.  This book is actually a lot more about the character of Control/John rather than Area X itself, although Area X is never far from the forefront for too long.

“Acceptance” is the final book of the trilogy, and is rightfully the most complex one.  Unlike the previous two books, which had a fairly linear chronology (“Authority” does have some flashbacks, but through Control reflecting on past events), “Acceptance” has three major viewpoints taking place over a wide span of time, one of which actually takes place before Area X happens and details events leading up to its creation.  Long-lingering questions are answered and we get a deeper look into some characters that were only referenced from afar in the previous books.  I hesitate to say much more about it for fear of spoilers.

My favorite of the series definitely has to be “Acceptance”.  I’ve always enjoyed disjointed chronologies in stories, and “Acceptance” weaved a non-linear, complex narrative that was a joy to follow.  “Acceptance” also has the tightest pacing of the three books.  The series definitely is a slow burn (especially in “Authority”), which isn’t a bad thing.  But “Acceptance” definitely makes the best use of that burn, with scenes that can go from being perfectly normal to slightly unnerving to downright disturbing in an elegantly smooth fashion.  There’s a particular scene at a bar very late in the book that really sticks out in my mind as just getting progressively more unnerving before everything just goes to hell.

And that’s my favorite thing about this series: the unrelenting weirdness and tension that’s present throughout the books.  There’s a moment in the second book, “Authority”, where things just suddenly hit the fan in such a jarring, unexpected way that it’s actually brilliant.  It makes you question if it’s actually happening or not at first.  And I’ve always been a fan of horror and horror-tinged stories (something readers of this blog undoubtedly know at this point), so this trilogy was right up my alley.

If you like weird sci-fi, then I can’t recommend this series enough.  It’s just so bizarre and unique that I can’t say I’ve ever read anything quite like it.  Some stuff is left open to interpretation in the end, which might bother some people, but to me the ambiguity is what stays with us after the story is done.  It’s what keeps our minds churning over and over, trying to gleam the last elusive details that will give us the answers we want.

So yeah, give the books a shot.  Get weirded out.  It’s a fun time.

 

Thanks for reading!  Check back on the third Wednesday of next month for another post, and as always, have a wonderful month.

You can like the Rumination on the Lake Facebook page here or follow me on Twitter here.

Spotlight: Incredibles 2

 

In what seems to be becoming more of a trend, movies are getting sequels long after the original’s release, sometimes over a decade after.  The sequel to “Finding Nemo”, “Finding Dory” came out about thirteen years later.  “Independence Day” got a sequel twenty years later.  Hell, “Blade Runner 2049” came out over thirty years after the original (and still somehow managed to be amazing).  And the result of this trend has been fairly hit or miss.  Some sequels managed to succeed despite the distance in time from their predecessors, while others flop for multiple reasons, be it little interest in a sequel this many years later or just a sense of re-treading the same ground without adding anything new.

So with that in mind, “Incredibles 2” is the latest in this trend, coming out fourteen years later.  How does it stack up?

I have only vague memories of seeing the original “Incredibles” in theaters with my dad way back in the day.   And while I don’t remember much about the plot (it was fourteen years ago after all and I only saw it once), I remember liking it.  I remember it being a fun movie.  So when I went to see the sequel all these years later, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.  Sure, the movie had been receiving pretty much universal acclaim, but I’d been let down by that before.

In the end, I would say that “Incredibles 2” is a decent to good movie.  Nothing amazing or spectacular, but very solid.

I don’t think my reaction to it has all that much to do with the movie itself.  Sure, the plot is very predictable, to the point where I would have figured out the movie’s main plot twist long before I did if I hadn’t turned my brain off.  Sure, it doesn’t really do anything that we haven’t seen before.  But it has a lot of charm, and it’s a movie that can appeal to kids and adults alike without feeling patronizing.

Rather, I think it has more to do with the time it came out in.

One of the movie’s central conceits is this almost meta examination of the role that superheroes play.  After the introductory action sequence, we see them being yelled at by police for causing so much collateral damage, to the point where they argue that it would have been better if the heroes had simply done nothing.  And throughout the movie it’s making an argument about how the world needs superheroes, something which feels strangely dated especially after a decade of Marvel dominating the box office with its superhero movies.  It makes me wonder if the script for the movie was written way back when, shortly after the first film’s release.

And for me personally, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before on this blog, I’m burned out on superhero movies.  There’s just so many of them and most of them feel identical to each other (this is particularly true for Marvel movies).  Part of the original “Incredibles” charm was that it came out at a time when superhero movies weren’t that big.  Sure there might be one every once in a while, but it’s still a far cry from today when it feels like there’s a superhero movie in theaters every other month.  I think if the sequel had come out just a couple of years or so after the first one, I might have been more receptive to it.

Again, it’s not a bad movie.  I just don’t think it’s that remarkable of one either.

 

Thanks for reading!  Check back on the third Wednesday of next month for another post, and as always, have a wonderful month.

You can like the Rumination on the Lake Facebook page here or follow me on Twitter here.

Let’s Talk About Gaming Addiction

Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) has moved to include gaming disorder as part of the 11th revision of their International Classification of Diseases.  According to their website, gaming disorder is defined as “a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”  It goes on to say that, to be classified as a disorder, the amount of gaming must be severe enough to impair a person’s functioning in daily life for a time period of at least twelve months.

My initial reaction to this, of course, was an instinctual dislike.  Video games are one of my primary hobbies, and have been since I was a kid.  So when I heard that gaming disorder was going to be an officially recognized thing, I immediately thought that it couldn’t be good.  And the interesting thing is that the pushback against the classification didn’t just come from people who play video games.  It also came from medical experts who believe that the WHO’s definition of gaming disorder is too vague and too broad.

However, at the same time, the classification does make sense.  There are people out there who definitely spend far too much time on video games, so much so that it starts to take precedence over everything else.  And we are long overdue for a conversation about mental health in this country.  Because while conservative politicians love to blame mental health issues for mass shooting events, they never seem to actually DO anything about it.

But that’s a rant for another time.

Gaming addiction is not a new issue, especially in places like South Korea where it has become such a problem that they even have gaming addiction rehabilitation clinics.  So it’s definitely something worth talking about.  But on the other hand, there’s the media, who have a long and storied history of being slanted against video games.  For instance, here’s this story from the BBC, which was originally titled “Computer game addiction: ‘I spend 20 plus hours a week gaming”.

Pffft…that’s weak.  Get real kids.  Twenty hours is nothing.  You hear me?  Nothing!

In all seriousness, if you actually watch the video, it at least explains that the kid who plays “20 plus hours” a week is part of a healthy crowd of friends.  But if all you see is the headline, your perception of that “20 plus hours” is going to be much different.

And if we’re really going to criticize video games in this way, I think it’s worth noting how we consume another medium: television.  According to this New York Times article from back in 2016, a Nielsen study found that, on average, American adults watch five hours of television a day.  So per week, that adds up to roughly thirty-five hours of television.  Yet we don’t see the WHO coming out with a classification on television watching disorder, or the BBC making a video about people addicted to television.  And the only major reason I can think of for this is that watching television is a normalized thing, whereas video games are still seen as a kind of weird new thing that people don’t understand.

This is to say nothing about the fact that binge-watching is not only a term, but a socially acceptable one.  When “Stranger Things” season 2 came out, over three hundred thousand people watched the entire season in one day.  But of course we’re not raising a stink about this.  We might scoff and say “get a life”, but our condemnation never goes much beyond that.

I should mention here that even the WHO recognizes that the number of those afflicted with this gaming disorder are a very small percentage of the people who play video games regularly.  And I’m willing to bet that, more often than not, the root cause of the addiction lies not with the games themselves, but with something in that person’s life that has forced them to retreat into their hobby.  Because video games are typically used as a way to cope with the stresses of life, something I can attest to personally.  While there are some games that are designed to entice players to keep playing regularly over months and even years, we need to understand that the extreme form of addiction the WHO is talking about is not the norm, especially in a country where the statistic of watching over thirty hours of television a week is accepted without so much as a second thought.

In the end, it’s possible to have an unhealthy addiction to pretty much anything.  And it’s time we accepted that instead of adhering to this stodgy old idea of “everything was better when I was growing up and anything new in these kid’s lives is clearly bad for them”.

Because the world is going to change, whether we like it or not.

 

Thanks for reading!  Check back on the third Wednesday of next month for another post, and as always, have a wonderful day.

You can like the Rumination on the Lake Facebook page here or follow me on Twitter here.