I'll talk about this anyway, even though Bill O'Reilly doesn't need any help from me in exposing his screeching, shrill Chicken Little ignorance -- he's certainly done it quite well on his own in saying that video games are going to be the death of society as we know it. He believes that "a large portion" of people "under the age of 45" have no grasp on reality and no skillset to acquire a job, and that the launch of the Playstation 3 is going to change this country into some kind of unrecognizable monstrosity. O'Reilly's comments focus a lot on the erroneous belief that so many anti-game people hold: that people who play video games lose the ability to socialize with people. They don't know their neighbors, he says. Nothing could be further from the truth. Video games have, especially in the last few years, become a foundation for vast social interactivity. Hardly anyone sits in their room anymore playing a game in the dark by themselves; they're adding people to their Friends Lists and playing games together, either against each other or cooperatively. Or they're playing World of Warcraft with a thousand other people and making friends with them. Or they're going to game conventions or E3 and meeting people in person who they've only ever known as a voice on the other side of the Xbox headset. Video gamers have grown up and are having children, and now parents spend time with their kids playing video games together. As a video game developer, I can say that the social interactivity factor of games and the new console systems is nearly more important than the game itself now.
O'Reilly talks about gamers as if his sole exposure to them comes from a poorly written TV stereotype. I'd wager he's never actually met one. A video game console in a home is about as common a site today as a toaster. Video games are so common place that MTV, that shining beacon of social trend prediction, now has its own video game show. (Which bears the unfortunate name of The G-Hole...but we'll save that for another entry.) There are socially inept and withdrawn people who play video games, and there are socially inept and withdrawn people who have no idea what an XBox or a Playstation is. There are surgeons who have been shown to have improved motor skills and coordination because they play video games. There are soldiers in O'Reilly's beloved Iraq War that are better UAV pilots because they play video games.
There have always been people like O'Reilly -- people who are fearful of some new technology or new fad and think that it will be the death of civilization as we know it. It was said that comics would ruin society (they didn't), and the same was said about television and radio, the very media that O'Reilly relies on for his paycheck and yet conveniently considers benign.
He goes on at length about how impossible it is to hold a conversation with a computer geek, and that you can't really talk to them. The moment he said this, O'Reilly might as well have hung a big neon sign around his neck that read, I'M IRRELEVANT. While everyone else in the world moves on with new advancements and new technology, the dinosaurs of our society, the people who fear change, fear advancement, and fear their own relevancy and ability to keep up, wail and gnash their teeth about how society is dying and no one else can see it but them. And society doesn't crumble beneath our feet.
If O'Reilly can't have a conversation with a person who plays video games, uses computers, or uses an iPod (another device that he complains about), devices that are considered these days to be as basic as a calculator, it's much more telling about his own inability to keep up with the rest of society. Perhaps he should be more concerned about his imminent irrelevancy and less concerned about people who don't fear technology and are out talking to their friends and their coworkers about it.