"Sitting in the darkness on the floor cushions we watched the silent impacts flicker on the wall above our heads. The repeated sequences of crashing cars first calmed and then aroused me. Crusing alone on the motorway under the yellow glare of the sodium lights, I thought of myself at the controls of these imapcting vehicles."Despite the fact that he was talking about a couple of guys sitting on the floor watching Super 8 films, the allegory between this simuacral experience and playing videogames is not difficult to make. Sure, one can make an argument about the user holding a controller that allows them take make active decisions about the paths they take within a virtual landscape, but the fact remains that throughout this experience you are stationary, and your choices are illusionary - entirely dependent on the size of the playing field bequested to you by programmers.
- JG Ballard, Crash.
So we strap on Wii Remotes and play tennis, because we're never actually going to take up the real thing. We stand in arcades and stare at small monitors that emulate sniper rifles, dreaming of pink pixels like the guy Jake Gyllenhall plays in the film based on the book by the guy who never actually got to shoot anyone either (at least in the film anyway). And it's all harmless fun, because its entertainment.
It's quite the paradoxical situation. Whilst its perceivable that this sort of similacral living would only be conducive to more boredom, Rossingol via Ballard posits that if we're going to engage in this sort of thing it should be more realistic, more visceral:
That is not to say that videogames need to be more sensationalist, more vulgar, or more crass, but that they need not fear being more transgressive, or more expressive... They need not to shy away from their darker depictions of our fantasies, or become embarrassed when people point out how they dwell on violence and excitement. This, the safe excursion to the gladiatorial arena, is what games do best.The conclusion reached is an obvious one for armchair psychiatrists; that we should follow our obsessions, the things that fascinate and bewilder us. In his writing, Ballard made no short work of putting his obsessions to paper, taking a good long stare at the world and what his quirks said about it. If you draw a line from this, it can almost be used as an excuse to commit any act of creativity. Which, in a currently phase of feeling trapped within linear strands of thinking, is a very timely thing to be reminded of.
- Jim Rossingol, Ragdoll Metaphysics: JG Ballard, Boredom, And The Violent Promise Of Videogames.
With the passing of James Graham Ballard, we lose another cultural antagonist. For a few seconds, the world is a little more boring because of it.