In the suburban town where I live there has been—as there has been in a lot of places across the country—a fuss about electronic video games. In my town, a promoter sought permission to construct a monstrous emporium to house scores of these quarter-eaters, and a great many citizens came out violently in opposition. Really.
Some of this was, of course, no more than a case of routine generational hysteria, the sort of knee-jerk response we can expect from a certain segment of the adult population anytime anything new and mysterious comes along that appeals to the young. That's life. That's the way the middle ages. But somehow we have survived as a nation and as a planet these past three decades despite grim grownup assurances circa 1955 that rock 'n' roll would be the ruination of mankind. Alas, the same old fleshpot world destroyed poor Elvis Presley, not he us.
It has also been difficult for me to think of video games as a newfangled instrument of the devil, inasmuch as pinball games long preceded them. It seems to me that video games are to pinball about what big Prince metal rackets are to little old wooden ones. The products may be modified, but the arcades, like the tennis, remain much the same as ever.
I don't use the above word just for the heck of it. "Really" is the word that arcade children—which is to say: all children—use these days instead of that quaint old word we formerly fell back on, "yes" as in: Will you marry me?/ Really.
The flip side of "Really" is "Not Really." "Not Really" is what young people say now when they mean "no." (The first mistake we made was starting to call kids "young people," but I digress.) This generation simply can't bear to have the word "no" employed, lest someone might get around to saying "no" to them. Really. I discovered recently that not even young policemen can bring themselves to say "no." Not long ago, I asked one fuzzy-cheeked constable if I might park for a while in a no-parking zone.
He replied, "Not really."
Possibly there's some connection between young people playing video games all the time and their not being able to say "yes" or "no."
But then, adults themselves are often no prizes when it comes to lucid, logical discourse. Most of the complaints I hear lodged against video games are couched only in what I call the alternative negative. That is: These games are bad because otherwise children would be doing something more valuable with their time.