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My problem with Boris Johnson is this: For all he appears to be a bright bloke, he can – at certain proscribed times – entirely resemble the rest of the party from which he is an often welcome break. His latest missive from the depths of ignorance is an attack on computer games, in which he says:

These machines teach them nothing. They stimulate no ratiocination, discovery or feat of memory—though some of them may cunningly pretend to be educational. I have just watched an 11-year-old play a game that looked fairly historical, on the packet. Your average guilt-ridden parent might assume that it taught the child something about the Vikings and medieval siege warfare.

The game is, incidentally, Medieval – Total War, The Viking Invasion. Rated Teen by the ESRB, so next time there is another outcry about violence in video games and how they should be better rated, someone please go talk to Boris’ 11 year old.

Anyway, Side-tracked. Books, you see, are educational. It’s a well observed fact that merely reading any book makes you 67% more clever than the kid over there playing computer games.

Incidentally, I write web applications for banks. A few of the other gamers I know are Cambridge graduates, high falutin’ executives, school teachers, writers and other obvious drains on society, patently burnt into grunting husks by mere application of pixels moving on screen.

I’m not saying games are educational, because in 90% of the cases they aren’t. They can be intellectually stimulating in the same way that Boris might recognise more classic games such as Rummy, Bridge, Whist &c to be, in that the ability to recognise patterns and build an internal working map of the current state is something that will stand you in good stead generally.

But mostly, they’re for entertainment. Psychologists may argue they tickle the long-lost hunter instinct in us, tracking and eliminating our prey. Personally, I enjoy games because they are fun to do. In the same way Boris would object if you took his book out of his hands, I’d imagine.

He’s also right, up to a point. Sitting inside gazing at the screen isn’t healthy, and having stories shot at you in easily-digestible chunks in cut-scenes like a multipart poison in blow dart form isn’t really good for your general welfare, so you should take your entertainment in many forms, like going to see a movie for example.

Don’t buy Boris’ book, though. It’s awful.

(I’m off to Wales for New Year, and then to Amsterdam for a stag party, and then I’m hella busy. You may have to wait a bit for the “Holy fuck! I’ve been writing AqCom for SEVEN YEARS!” post, but be warned, it’s coming. Also, wish me luck for the 9th. I’ll tell you why later)

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