Image provided by: University of Nebraska-Lincoln Libraries, Lincoln, NE
About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Feb. 21, 2000)
Mainstreaming of video-game culture misseso^^n true spirit of being a gamer
A seedy portion ot the under
world, kept behind closedjloors, a
shadowy place inhabited by geeks,
freaks and other odd denizens,
blips and tweets can be heard out
side the doors, but rare is the brave
soul who will steel up and slip
A AAV UiVUUV.
When I was young, the arcade
was something of a sacred place, a
church for those of us three steps
ahead in the digital revolution.
The children of the arcade. (
The followers of technology.
Sure, a lot of you have been in
arcades but probably only in the
past few years. See, video-gaming
has gone mainstream in recent
years, much to my dismay.
Gamer society used to be an
elite club, a tiny minority of people
in the Omaha area. Vagabonds
roaming from arcade to arcade -
W.C. Franks, Jolly Time, Family
Fun Center - the Omaha gamers
were like a family.
A lot of them had nicknames,
but more often than not, they were
known by their initials. If you got
into the high scores, you only had
three little letters as your claim to
When I was 13, I squared off in
a pinball marathon over who got to
use the initials “CAH.” He won,
and since then, I’ve always used the
It’s the pain of losing a duel.
But even when you lost, the Vic
tor would offer to buy you a pop
and treat you to a game of Tron 01
My habit infected every portion
of my daily life. Images of Digdug
and Roadhlasters filled my day
dreams when I should have beer
studying. I picked up a few phrases
of Japanese from Samurai
Showdown. Every so often, I’d huir
the theme to Mr. Do in class, mucl
ito my shame.
Many people thought of gamers
with disdain back then. It was £
stigma, a cross we bore for
the entertainment we chose.
While the masses lis
tened to their Poison tapes,
we plunked down quarter
after quarter into a Gauntlet
machine and took down
another squadron of fighters
Instead of spending
hours drooling over car
magazines, we found our
selves hoarding electronics
and computing magazines
like pornography, stashing
them under our beds to keep
our hobbies secret from our
Our families wouldn’t
' have understood. Gamers
weren’t yet out of the closet. ^
But time changes all
things. Once we were rebels,
the outcasts reveling in our
Now we’ve become
Dammit, we’re becom
JL ill <3 UUVO 11U l pivuav 111V.
I’m not sure exactly
when everything started to
change, but my guess is it
was about the time Nintendo
and Sega each launched
their home systems.
Sure, the Nintendo
(NES) and the Sega Master ::
System (SMS) are the gold- *
en ages of gaming for some,
but they weren’t the first
Before the NES, there
was Intellivision. Before the
Intellivision, there was the \
Atari 2600, my first home
You couldn’t do a lot $
with a 2600 - I think I |
played Pac Man, Joust, >
Pitfall and Defender until
the joystick was nearly
unusable. It only had one
button. Sure it was sim
ple, but it was the
beginning for me.
When the NES
and SMS started to .
and the Genesis. Here’s
where it all started to get
out of hand.
All the people the
NES had drawn in all
bought SNESs, and they
told all their friends, who
told all their friends.
The days I spent with
my SNES were fantastic
- epic stories like the
Final Fantasy games,
Castlevania, Secret of
Mana ... the list goes on
But the revolution
was already on the build,
and we knew it. Gaming
~was starting to lose its
stigma, and we, the hard
core, were afraid of the
we naa to aeai witn
the weekend gamers.
Around this time,
most of the secondary
arcades in the Omaha
area scaled back or just
closed up shop entirely,
all bowing down before
the mighty Family Fun
Center, which had taken
away the dark and fore
boding feel and replaced
it with marquee lights
and miniature golf.
It was the defanging
of gamer culture.
had evolved and contin
ued to pubh the limits.
They were becoming
more diverse, more
advanced, more^ accept
And then Sony
broke all the bound
\ through some align
\ ment of luck, coin
t cidence and world
do well, each '
i company intro
duced its new % \
■ system, the % %:
i Super NES ^
Cliff Hicks is a senior English major and a Nebraskan columnist.
playstation. The world shook in
Not long ago, I read that more
people play a Playstation daily than
•ead a daily newspaper.
During my freshman year, one
}f my roommates got a Playstation,
rhere were only four games out for
it then, none of which seemed that
great. But a lot of people on the
floor of our residence hall came to
aoh and aah.
Six months later, there was a
Playstation in more than half the
rooms on our floor.
The outcome was inescapable.
You can’t fight fate. You can’t beat
Strangely enough, though,
instead of being perceived as out
dated and obsolete, the older
gamers generally get afforded a lit
tle more respect than the
We get asked to tell stories
about the days when no game cost
more than a quarter and the
name“3D” related more to ’50s
movies than computer games.
For years, Star Wars: The Game
and Battlezone were the only 3D
games, and they were mere wire
frames, hints of the future. The
term polygon meant nothing to
Nowadays, we share the arcades
with any schmoe who wanders in
off the street, many of whom think
the world began with Mortal
Komhat. They lose their tempers
when they get beaten, and they
scream and dance when they win.
Show some respect.
Casual gamers even killed pin
ball. The pinball machines weren’t
bringing in enough quarters, so
almost all the pinball manufactur
ers closed up shop. I’m going to
buy my own table to keep the spark
of pinball alive, but it’s a futile
Pinball is dead.
Weekend gamers killed it.
Video-gaming is only getting
more popular, too. Computer game
sales have been on the steady
increase. Sega’s Dreamcast has
sold more than a million units
already. Sony’s Playstation2 hits
stateside this fall.
And in my dreams, I’m playing
Spy Hunter and reaching for my
next quarter. And in my dreams, the
arcade is a mystery once more.
i . .
r ‘t * . :• . •;
Image of gays, lesbians gaining ground on TV but homophobia is still prevalent
in media circles, ivyy will oe
remembered as the Year of the Queer.
Gays and lesbians seemed to be
Calista Flockhart shared a pas
sionate kiss with Lucy Liu in highest
rated “Ally McBeal” episode ever.
“Will & Grace” became one of NBC’s
highest-rated shows. Teen heartthrob
Jack on “Dawson’s Creek” came out
of the closet.
In fact, there are now 27 gay and
lesbian characters on prime-time tele
vision, nearing the number of charac
ters from all other minority groyps
combined (Minneapolis Star Tribune,
Nov. 7. 1999).
But the prospect of gays on TV
might not be as bright as it seems.
Recently, for example, conservative
radio talk-show host and syndicated
newspaper columnist Laura
Schlessinger was offered her own
hour-long, weekday television show
by Paramount. Schlessinger, a recent
convert to orthodox Judaism, is
famous for verbal tirades against sin
gle mothers, gays and others who call
into her show for “advice.” /
Schlessinger believes homosexu
ality was removed from the list of
mental disorders by the American
• Psychological Association 30 years
ago only because of pressure from
gay lobbyists, not because of scientif
ic evidence. Schlessinger is a huge
proponent of reparative therapy - the
belief that gays and lesbians can be
“cured” through psychological treat
ment (Schlessinger’s own Ph D. is in
physiology, not psychology).
Discussing equal rights for gays
and lesbians, Schlessinger says:
“Rights? For sexual deviants, sexual
behavior, there are now rights? That’s
what I’m worried about with the
pedophilia and the bestiality and the
sadomasochism and the cross-dress
ing. Is this all going to be rights, too?
Why does deviant sexual behavior get
rights?” (Advocate, Feb. 15,2000).
Now, in addition to being on 500
radio stations and in 100 newspapers,
Schlessinger will be able to bring
these “enlightened” views on gays
and lesbians to millions of television
viewers nationwide in the comfort of
their living rooms.
Pat Buchanan is another anti-gay
media star. Buchanan got his start on
CNN’s “Crossfire.” Although he’s
now on leave from the show for
another run for president, Buchanan
called for a “culture war” on gays and
other “threats” to the “American fam
In a column written in June 1983,
during the first months of the AIDS
crisis, he said, “The poor homosexu
als. They have declared war on
nature, and now nature is exacting an
Buchanan has also said, “It was
militant homosexuals who first
stormed across society’s old borders.
And it is they who are assaulting posi
tions while painting themselves as
victims of social and legal persecu
tion ... Their conduct cannot com
mand our respect, because it so vio
lently contradicts our beliefs. If that
be ‘homophobia,’ make the most of
it.” (San Francisco Examiner, Sept.
This is not. “compassionate con
servatism.” Now this man is running
for president in the third-latest polit
ical party in America, with tens of
millions of dollars in federal match
ing funds at his disposal.
Much of the media, though not
anti-gay, remains plagued with con
fusion about the gay community.
Recently, for example, in what was
meant to be an objective analysis of
the military's ban on openly gay sol
diers, a column in the Omaha World
Herald titled “Gays in military: Both
sides err” listed as one good argu
ment against allowing gays to serve
openly is “Would grizzled Green
Berets, for example, be permitted to
sashay around in drag during off-duty
hours?” This glaring failure to grasp
the distinction between sexual orien
tation and gender identity is a good
example of how far the media still has
Still, the trend towards having vis
ible gay characters in television,
movies and other media bodes well
for the future. Too often I hear from
gay friends that they thought they
were the only ones in high school.
Seeing gay characters will help
gay adolescents realize they are not
alone and that there is nothing wrong
with,them. It will also show straight
teens that being gay isn’t such a big
deal. The gay teens of tomorrow will
be happier and less neurotic than any
previous generation, and the straight
teens of tomorrow will be more toler
ant and accepting.
With these prospects for the
future, my only regret is that all the
gay media in the world won’t have
any effect on the bigots already in
___ mmx’k-si f^^nHBRH
Powered by Open ONI