Happy 2016 to you all.
My holidays are officially over, if they ever happened. The last two weeks of December were spent working in fits and starts from the road while traveling to the US and back to visit family. Aside from the family tech support duty, running copious errands and filling wish lists, this meant watching my two teens go through their media consumption rituals, which, like those of many teens, includes time spent on video-game platform Steam or in the basement of the meme-o-sphere, communicating in fragments of Vines and GIFs. After several weeks of interstitial Google Docs, Skypes and WhatsApp threads, even I retreated to two late nights of Civilization V as a form of retreat from the retreat.
What I recalled from this re-exposure to games is just how much game “culture” and aesthetics have backwashed into the real world, particularly for the young. This isn’t a particularly new theme, and I’m not a professor of video game culture, but it’s always worth taking a moment from time to time to peer into these “bleedthroughs” and think about the implications. Simulations infect our experience of the real world, setting expectations of how our actions impact the environment and complex systems (I saw several examples of this in recent writing about COP21, oversimplifying the cause-effect of our actions on climate change, for example). Some games just become zen-like simplicity (like Neko Atsume below) or infinitely expanding randomness (like the infinitely receding No Man’s Sky