The last — and only — time I had sex with a whore she was so impressed by my performance that she begged me to do it all over again. I thank the drugs. Before popping out in my stolen car for my rendezvous with my skanky ho, I had smoked a couple of fat blunts which I’d found ready prepared for me by my bitch next to my beer fridge and it put me in just the right mood.
But none of this was ‘real’. I was playing the video game Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV) and enjoying the transgressive thrills of living the life of a young black hoodlum in inner-city America. It’s an experience I can highly recommend, not just because you get to steal flash cars, deal drugs, drive the wrong way down one-way streets, change into any number of hoodies and cool sneakers, and shoot people — but also because as you’re doing it you’re sticking a defiant finger up to the Man. Or more specifically, to the stifling worthiness of our modern culture whose default position on innocent pleasures like this is to condemn them for their outrageous sexism, racism, misogyny and violence.
And yes, maybe games like GTAV are all those things, but it doesn’t seem to do them much harm at the box office. Au contraire: on its release last year GTAV became the most successful entertainment product in history, earning $1 billion within its first three days of release. No doubt the superb gameplay was a draw. As were the groovy soundtrack and state-of-the-art graphics. But the clincher, I suspect, for a lot of its young male fans, was the sheer joyous escapism into a universe where you can still act out your most politically incorrect fantasies without some professional victimhood group like 350.org or Everyday Sexism demanding you be carted off in the Outrage Bus for compulsory re-education.
You only have to consider briefly what has happened to the various other branches of the culture and entertainment industry to appreciate how rare this is. We live in a world where basketball club owners and football managers are expected to converse, even in private, like Harriet Harman at an equality seminar; where Hollywood scarcely dare cast an African-American in any role other than police chief, supreme court judge or the voice of God; where the crazed terrorists in TV dramas are invariably rogue Mossad agents or crazed Christians; where you can mock any religion you like on stage, provided it’s not the Religion of Peace. Gaming is the last bastion, the Helm’s Deep of freedom of expression.
Some say the reason that the computer industry managed to get so rich is that it grew faster than government’s ability to constrain and regulate it — and something similar probably explains the untrammelled rise of the games industry. You’re probably not aware — most people aren’t — that it is now bigger than Hollywood, worth $80 billion a year. It rose without anyone noticing, because gaming has long been unfairly stigmatised as an activity for malodorous bedsit-dwellers rather than cultural trendsetters. And it grew to be so enormous by doing what other branches of the entertainment industry have largely forgotten: not by giving punters what they ought to like, but what they actually want.
Read the rest at The Spectator
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