Because my computer and I are experiencing what the eminently qualified Dr Phil would no doubt diagnose as ‘issues’ at present, I have been forced to do my blogging from the confines of a local interweb café. And I’m not complaining about it, mind you, as this ill-lit den of technology permits me to enjoy such salutary web-browsing extras as greasy keyboards, dismal pop muzak, and the stink rising from foetid nerds as like Spring flowers their pores open in sweaty delight whenever they discover a new porn node. My fellow geeks have proved something of an inspiration, however. I’d been planning to rattle off some no doubt edifying gem of a post on my obvious genius and why the modern world is so poorly equipped to recognise it (the usual, in other words), and you are the poorer for being denied it, I can assure you. Nevertheless, I found it hard to concentrate on anything else once I overheard the conversation floating over from the next row of computers.
“Did you hear about Adrian?” spluttered one teenage nerd to another, as he pressed a tissue to his erupting acne. “He got raped twice last night!”
Hearing this, hard-bitten, cold and unfeeling man of the world though I might be, I was shocked. “Good grief…poor Adrian,” I thought. “What a hideous thing to happen to anyone. I hope he received medical attention and counselling. I hope the police have been informed.”
But no, for the second pimply youth giggled, “Yeah, it was me. I raped him so hard!”
Now, even amidst the egregious moral squalor of Box Hill, this constitutes something of an unusual admission. Confused, flustered (but undeniably comely), I listened further to nerd number two’s bizarrely enthusiastic confession, and as I did so, it slowly dawned on my ape-like mind that I probably wasn’t going to be called on as a witness once Adrian's assault came to trial.
It turns out that the back room of my ‘net café doubles as a LAN games arena, wherein gormless young (and not so young) men congregate in front of computer screens to commit vicarious acts of violence and lie about the multitude of hot babes that clamour for their slobby bodies. In my eavesdropping, I’d stumbled across some commonly used terminology in the gamer’s lexicon: to ‘rape’ someone is to beat them at a computer game. Fascinated by the admirably offensive expression, I wandered over to the doorway of the gaming room and listened some more. And after five minutes I was confused and flustered again (still comely, but).
As it turns out, virtually everything in a gaming nerd’s vocabulary revolves around acts of sexual violence: he got raped; I’m about to fuck your arse; get ready to eat my cock; let’s back-door him; I made you my bitch; feel my hot sex, motherfucker. The stream of abusive war-cries came thick and quick - relentless and definitively dirty. Tres charming, no?
The link between violence and sex is an old one, and potent. The Greeks, despite the fact they invented neither, liked to make a big deal about this on a regular basis – the first recorded piece of Western literature concerns rape – and went so far as to allegorise the association in their religion. Even a casual reading of their mythos soon reveals Aphrodite as the most capriciously bloodthirsty of the gods, and her illicit trysts with Ares symbolise not the quelling of war by love, but a longing within the act of love to possess and conquer regardless of cost. Not that I’m suggesting by this entirely spurious little bit of erudition that aggression or brutality are necessary facets of sexuality; it’s just unfortunate that human history reveals a long and unbroken correlation between the one and t’other. Knowledge of this, however, was insufficient preparation for the sight of game geeks screaming about coming in each other’s faces while blowing their virtual avatars up with lasers. No, seriously: yuck.
When it comes to psychology, I’m about as qualified as a certain aforementioned former football coach to offer an accurate analysis. Nonetheless, the inclination to run to Freud et al for any kind of explanation is a natural one, once you’ve seen a nerd fondling his joystick. It's true that a multitude of games are a sublimation of sexual urges, what with all the drive to dominate and humble one's opponent. The obvious examples are contact sports which offer the opportunity not just to whoop but to touch the arses of the opposing team, or any other part of their bodies (not necessarily in Hopoate-esque fashion; contact sport is in many ways an intricately constructed excuse to come into close physical proximity with members of the same sex without feeling guilty about it later); but even a game like chess is a vertiable minefield of oedipal symbolisms.
And just as these are fairly harmless, and probably even quite healthy cathartic outlets, so too I imagine are most video games. I'm not about to suggest there's anything inherently wrong with playing them, especially since I and several of the people I pay to be my friends have been known to dabble in them from time to time. Nor am I going to trot out the tired A Current Affair type arguments which maintain there is anything particularly wrong with the simulated violence they may contain (other than the obvious ethical/philosophical concerns, which I'm not going to raise here because 1. I've already become long-winded and tangential, and 2. I'm lazy). Computer games don't warp adult minds or instill violent tendencies - not like those evil fucking Harry Potter books - or at least don't do so to minds that were open to warping by other stimuli, anyway.
When the sort of language that the pack of nerds at my 'net cafe were flinging about comes to be employed as a matter of course, though, you can't help but wonder if the game is not longer an abstract sublimation of sexual urges but an automatic association between acts of violence (admittedly by proxy, but recognisably violence nonetheless) and humiliation and acts of sex. I'm not about to make a case for lingusitic determinism here - particularly since I thought up 'til last week that Sapir-Whorf was a character from Star Trek - but it's hard not to think that such obsessively sexual perjorations are reinforcing a sadistic fetish; not expressions of triumph but of arousal, which are reified every time they get used. And does the paraphiliac gratification extend beyond the computer screen? I don't know, but I'd hate to be the partner of a gaming nerd - would they want to beat you in the face Big Brother style with their weltanshauung every time you were in bed? Doesn't really bear thinking about, does it?
But what is to be done about such deviant dweebs, oh Man of Ideas, Man of Morals, do I hear you say? How nice of you to ask so obsequiously. But I wouldn't have a clue, nor could I really care less. I'm off to rape some dude at Tetris, hardcore. What, you were looking for a serious answer after all my self-righteous, half-formed dribble? Well fuck you. Just what blog did you think you were reading, anyway?