February 17, 2011

"Moral Combat"

From The American Prospect:
Why do liberals play computer games like conservatives?
By Monica Potts
I eventually got the hang of The Sims, the best-selling computer game in history, and my Sim self became productive and happy. She always reached the top of her career, her children always did well in school, and she always had enough money for a comfortable simulated life. Another pattern emerged as well, one that I feel powerless to stop: My Sims are conservative. I'm in complete control of them, but for some reason their lives aren't anything like the life I consider ideal in the real world. I'm a feminist graduate of an all-women's college who has vowed to never change my name or end my career to raise children full time--though I would never undervalue the work that many women do in their home. By contrast, my Sims rarely remain single long into adulthood. My wives always take their husbands' last names. They don't just have children; they bear lots of them. And they leave their careers to take on the lion's share of care-giving duties.
... It's always difficult for liberals to figure out how much they should enjoy pop culture that contradicts their values. ... Video games are just the newest medium through which our social mores are expressed, and questioning whether they do so accurately and responsibly is a natural corollary to their ascendancy.
I blame some of my right-of-center leanings on the structures of the games themselves. Having children has the added bonus of extending game time in The Sims, because I get to continue to play the same family as the generations roll by. 

Unlike in the real world, where people get to trade in their children and grandchildren.

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's just the old "morality for me but not for thee" shuck-and-jive routine that status-conscious conservative-living "liberals" love to play at.

As an aside, one could get really steady, stable, but very modest growth in the original sim city by tearing up all the roads, putting rail in everywhere, building lots of stadiums, and tearing down a church whenever the sims built one and putting in a police station instead.

Anonymous said...

I don't like video games much, but on some level I get the appeal of a GTA or a World of Warcraft. I'm not going to be a sociopathic carjacker or a night elf warrior in real life, so the games provide a safe space to live a larger than life, action-packed existence. But the Sims and Second Life? Living another life that sounds just as tedious and mundane as your real one? Someone explain the appeal of that to me.

See, that's why I was a radical environmentalist in my stupid youth. Saving the trees was nice and all, but I really wanted the opportunity to run around in the woods and feel like an action hero in real life. Oh, and have sex with uninhibited hippie girls.

That's really what a lot of you guys need. Stop sitting behind your keyboards whining about who's an alpha and who's a beta and how you're afraid of black people, and go out and be the hero of your own life.

Anonymous said...

Liberal elite lead conservative lives. They're less likely to end up with teen pregnancies etc.(the few that happen are swiftly dealt with down at the clinic).

Conservative proles pay lip service to religion and morality, but it's unwed teenage mothers and meth all round.

Anonymous said...

Call of Duty 4 has the main character, or one of the main characters die when a nuke launches on him and his men. Making the entire mission with him absolutely pointless.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2S3N0uSSho


Since the majority of Sims players are women, I would assume they are all offended by the assumption that women should take time off to take care of the kid if the husband has a career that can provide for them.

Whiskey said...

Liberals are really just Progressive Puritans. So, yeah, very conservative, ordered lives. Order is everything with those people. By contrast, backwoods hillbillies are disordered. "Natural freedom" is all, living in a fairly chaotic state of nature (and not a pretty one at that).

Anonymous said...

i don't get steve's punchline

can a subsequent commenter please explain it to me

ben tillman said...

i don't get steve's punchline

can a subsequent commenter please explain it to me


Having children is how we extend our life. The woman Steve is writing about somehow managed to learn the lesson and apply it in a stupid game without figuirng out that she needs to apply it in real life where it matters.

Anonymous said...

one of my friends was playing one (civ or sim) and there was some rule that democracies never attacked each other. I laughed.

allison said...

Seems obvious that it requires more effort to stay married to one's (never living up to the ideal) spouse in the real world, just as it requires more effort to raise (never living up to the ideal) children.

So for liberals, it's okay to be conservative in a video game, it's just that it would be too much work in real life.

Anonymous said...

So basically this lady had a deadline to deliver an article for her employer, but instead played The Sims instead and churned this out at the last minute?

Chicago said...

Sounds like just another conflicted person who is egotistical enough to think that her inner mental life is front page news. She's a self-righteous liberal bore. I wonder what advice her therapist is giving her.

agnostic said...

"It's always difficult for liberals to figure out how much they should enjoy pop culture that contradicts their values."

Only elite liberals. Poor and middle liberals don't care if a video game glorifies raising kids rather than majoring in women's studies at Vassar. They're libs because they like the welfare state.

For the same reason, elite conservatives have the same problem with culture that they want to like but is on the liberal side or against the Bible or whatever. Well-to-do wives in red states with nothing better to do than try to censor this video game or ban that book from the library.

As Andrew Gelman et al showed in Red State Blue State, the culture war is strictly an elite affair.

Poor conservatives don't care about violent video games etc.

Glaivester said...

. Stop sitting behind your keyboards whining about who's an alpha and who's a beta and how you're afraid of black people, and go out and be the hero of your own life.

Which means what?

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

"Conservative proles pay lip service to religion and morality, but it's unwed teenage mothers and meth all round."

Not a whole lot of meth-heads and unwed teen mothers in my conservative prole, red state neighborhood. And the few girls I did know who got pregnant married the fathers and remain happily married unto this very day.

If you want to see the meth addicts and teen mothers you mostly have to visit the Democratic-voting areas of my city. They just had a beautiful young girl killed by a meth-head driver a few weeks ago, in fact.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how often Steve is able to find online leftist mutterings coming out like self-parody

Steve Sailer said...

Virginia Heffernan noticed:

"Instead, Web fact-checkers generally try to show how articles presented in earnest are actually self-parody. These acts of reclassifying journalism as parody or fiction — and setting off excerpts so they play as parody — resembles literary criticism more than it does traditional fact-checking."

Anonymous said...

Having children is how we extend our life.

This is fallacious. Having children is how we extend life, not our life. We are not our genes.

josh said...

"vowed to never change my name or end my career to raise children full time--though I would never undervalue the work that many women do in their home"

No, never. Clearly.

josh said...

"i don't get steve's punchline"

.............................

The author says:

"I blame some of my right-of-center leanings on the structures of the games themselves. Having children has the added bonus of extending game time in The Sims, because I get to continue to play the same family as the generations roll by."

Obviously this "right-of-center" structure exists in the real world as well. You do "continue to play the same family"; that's kind of how existence works. I don't get to start over with a new guy.

slumber_j said...

Best sentence:

"I'm a feminist graduate of an all-women's college who has vowed to never change my name or end my career to raise children full time--though I would never undervalue the work that many women do in their home."

No: of course you would never do that.

albert magnus said...

I always assumed The Sims popularity rested on parents buying a present for their daughter at the same time as buying video games for their male children. I didn't know they actually played it.

airtommy said...

If you want to see the meth addicts and teen mothers you mostly have to visit the Democratic-voting areas of my city.

Wake up, Jack. Meth has torn through red-state America fly-over country the same way crack ripped up the ghetto in the 1980s.

Not-so-clever Not-so-Silly said...

We need a better Americanism for this phenomena of otherwise bright minds unable to comprehend the obvious like this (esp to the detriment of self, others and society).

It is so common in public discourse and elite groupthink. It needs to have the punch of something like "racists" or "antisemite".

The "Clever Sillies" is too British, passes over the heads of many here and sound harmless or even fun like the hiccups.

Something that has the connotations of:

* a voluntary but difficult to kick addiction/dependency

* vain status whoring disguised as moral superiority

* a pernicious groupthink that harms everyone involved, including the purported oppressed

But what...

Not-so-clever Not-so-Silly said...

Having children is how we extend our life.

This is fallacious. Having children is how we extend life, not our life. We are not our genes.


In med school embryology, it was said that most people view gametes (sperm/egg) as the way humans reproduce.

It would equally be valid to view gametes using humans to propagate their germline. Perhaps more valid since each human is only a transitory intermediate stage while the germline continues, slightly modified with each generation, forever.

Not-so-clever Not-so-Silly said...

I'm a feminist graduate of an all-women's college who has vowed to never change my name or end my career to raise children full time--though I would never undervalue the work that many women do in their home.

Isn't this how Soviet-era thinkers would have to write to avoid the sad fate of being mistaken for a counter-revolutionary? Especially when writing anything interesting that didn't parrot the party line 110%?

Are we sure we won the Cold War?

It's always difficult for liberals to figure out how much they should enjoy pop culture that contradicts their values.

Sounds like an avowed party member warning about false allure of the the West and capitalism.

Margaret said...

So much of the craziness you see in younger women is due to their efforts to figure out a biological destiny only dimly perceived. Just like yours is to run around impregnating women, ours is to birth babies and get them raised. It became clear by the 1960s that elite men were bored by this, so we tried to change. That was our mistake.

Geoff Matthews said...

I thought that the 'Moral Combat' title was a play on 'Mortal Combat' (and the whiny author's point).

Anonymous said...

"So basically this lady had a deadline to deliver an article for her employer, but instead played The Sims instead and churned this out at the last minute?"

That's what you learn at Ivy League/Seven Sisters schools -- Don't sweat quality control: make the deadline, even if all you got is something you just dug out of your (ahem) ear.

Dave R. said...

So... liberals get the movie industry, traditional television (before Fox ate their lunch), critically accepted literature, all music except country when performers express any political opinion, and acceptable discourse in polite company in general. But that's okay because its all objectively correct.

Computer games are big business, but they're relatively new, and seem to have flown under the radar enough not to have been co-opted. They're doing what sells. If they have a bias its not deliberately partisan, its from being programmed by smart, war-gaming, simulationist nerds. And this one industry challenges liberal sensibilities in the same way conservatives are challenged by most of popular culture. And that's not okay, because its objectively wrong.

Dutch Boy said...

I was struck by a comment I read one time by a guy raised by liberal parents in a conservative home environment: "Some people won't practice what they preach - my parents won't preach what they practice."

kurt9 said...

Wake up, Jack. Meth has torn through red-state America fly-over country the same way crack ripped up the ghetto in the 1980s.

This is quite true. The rural areas of Oregon and Washington have the biggest problems with Meth addiction and unmarried teen pregnancy. These social problems are well-known to have infected major areas of the agricultural mid-west as well.

These kinds of social pathology seem to be inversely correlated with intelligence, education, and future-time orientation. Educated, professional families of both liberal and conservative ideologies are generally functional and are actually quite similar to each other is life styles.

Likewise, the Meth ridden rural areas have similar social pathology to the crack ridden inner-city 'hoods (if not the same level of violence).

Mr. Anon said...

"Not-so-clever Not-so-Silly said...

We need a better Americanism for this phenomena of otherwise bright minds unable to comprehend the obvious like this (esp to the detriment of self, others and society)."

In Monica Pott's case, I would suggest "Debutard".

David said...

Several commentators were quick to point about that Ramona Ripston is Jewish, yet Potts' ethnic background gets a pass. Why is that?

not a hacker said...

The referenced woman is a writer for The American Prospect, so I just want to say something about magazines. Nobody reads magazines, least of all TAP. I checked it out in the mid-90's when a guy named Robert Kuttner was writing about economics (he's long forgotten, with good reason.) I'm in Bay Area bookstores all the time, and it's really amazing how, even for NPR types, magazines are some kind of anathema. In the last 5 years, I haven't seen a single person in the vicinity of a magazine rack pick up The Nation or Harpers or The Progressive, or The Washington Monthly, or The New Republic or Reason or The American Spectator or National Review or The Weekly Standard or The Public Interest. I am not kidding. Twice a month or so I'll see someone on a bus into SF reading The New Yorker or The Economist, but that's it. There used to be a magazine shop in Berkeley called Dave's Smoke Shop which carried Chronicles and Southern Partisan, which I thought was funny.

kurt9 said...

Basically all of the people I know here in the U.S. since my return from Asia would be considered of the "educated elite". The ones that lean conservative and the ones that lean liberal live their day to day lives and raise their kinds in the same manner. Unlike the Sims game however, they married later and had only one to two kids. They are all fiscally responsible people.

I do not understand the obsession with early marriage and large families in either the game itself or in Sailor's posting of it. Such choices seem counter intuitive in the skill-intensive economies of the modern age.

Mr. Anon said...

"kurt9 said...

""Wake up, Jack. Meth has torn through red-state America fly-over country the same way crack ripped up the ghetto in the 1980s.""

This is quite true. The rural areas of Oregon and Washington have the biggest problems with Meth addiction and unmarried teen pregnancy. These social problems are well-known to have infected major areas of the agricultural mid-west as well."

The Southeasst as well.

"These kinds of social pathology seem to be inversely correlated with intelligence, education, and future-time orientation."

They are also correlated with the economic prospects of those people. The jobs that these people used to have are being outsourced, or they are replaced in them by mexicans. As the old saying goes, idle hands are the devil's workshop. It also doesn't help that our society no longer condemns bad behavior. Except racism of course - one is always free to condemn that. But tell someone that they shouldn't cat around or get themselves tattooed and pierced like a south-seas cannibal - well, to do that would just be narrow minded.

Anonymous said...

Likewise, the Meth ridden rural areas have similar social pathology to the crack ridden inner-city 'hoods (if not the same level of violence).

And the physical isolation of these areas, plus the cultural void you get when your rural degenerates don't even go to church, are creating conditions that have the potential to be much much worse for the children born into them than the ghetto ever was. There will be no nice white ladies coming in to save the children of Medford or Klamath Falls from brutal illiteracy and ignorance. It will be physically nearly impossible for them to leave, incredibly difficult and expensive for the best of the teen mothers to show their children a different way of life. A black mother in Red Hook or Richmond or DC can take her children to see the glories of civilization if she chooses. The children in those places have institutions looking out for them. Poor rural white children are going to be thrown away.

Mr. Anon said...

"kurt9 said...

I do not understand the obsession with early marriage and large families in either the game itself or in Sailor's posting of it. Such choices seem counter intuitive in the skill-intensive economies of the modern age."

Really, you don't understand it? Here's a hint: What do you call a genetic line in which the average member has < 1 descendant?

Extinct.

kurt9 said...

They are also correlated with the economic prospects of those people. The jobs that these people used to have are being outsourced, or they are replaced in them by mexicans.

There is a lot of truth to this and it is ALL (100%) the fault of the liberal-left and other advocates of big government. It is the dramatic increase in regulation, not labor arbitrage, that has forced much manufacturing to relocate outside the U.S.

Talk to any business owner or entrepreneur in manufacturing and they will confirm what I am telling you here. Regulation has become so pervasive here in the U.S. that I would not even consider doing any kind of manufacturing start-up here in the U.S. I would go to Singapore (which has labor rates not much less than the U.S. but far less regulation).

BTW, there is very little manufacturing in Silicon Valley these days. California state regulations make it nearly impossible for any manufacturing to be done in California.

John Shade said...

Potts chooses her words sloppily when she says that questioning whether the mores expressed in video games is a "corollary" to their popularity. "Corollary" doesn't mean consequence or effect; it means a subsidiary proposition that is logically necessitated by a general proposition.

Anonymous said...

"But the Sims and Second Life? Living another life that sounds just as tedious and mundane as your real one? Someone explain the appeal of that to me."

It's a lib chick thing. You wouldn't understand.

Chicks love the mommy thing. Some say they don't, but they do.

Anonymous said...

@David:

When an evil leftist is Jewish, the Jew haters love pointing it out; when an evil leftist is a Gentile, the Jew haters either pass over that datum in silence or wrack their brains trying to figure out some way of ascribing fault to Jews. Yes, a large percentage of Jews are leftists; but what's key is that a much larger percentage of leftists are Gentiles. By the way, in the U.S. with the Orthodox inevitably becoming a much larger percentage of the Jewish population due to their very high birthrate, the percentage of Jews who are liberal will decline dramatically. Don't hold your breath waiting for the anti-Semites to cease their hatred.

Anonymous said...

Several commentators were quick to point about that Ramona Ripston is Jewish, yet Potts' ethnic background gets a pass. Why is that?

Because Ripston has wielded real power, Potts is just blathering away.

jimbo said...

"though I would never undervalue the work that many women do in their home":

"Not that there's anything WRONG with that..."

Wandrin said...

"They are also correlated with the economic prospects of those people."

It's also simply a matter of time.

Traditional family and morality among blacks was pretty much destroyed by the poison culture by the mid 70s.

Non-religious blue collar whites started to crumble around the mid 80s.

It wouldn't be surprising that the poison culture took until the mid 90s to really start rotting the more religious or traditional (or simply more remote) blue collar whites.

Darwin's Sh*tlist said...

I'm a feminist graduate of an all-women's college who has vowed to never change my name or end my career to raise children full time--though I would never undervalue the work that many women do in their home.

By saying she would never "undervalue" the stay-at-home thing, she's just saying she won't inaccurately value it. What she thinks the accurate value is is left unstated.

Though I'm pretty sure she didn't realize that as she was writing it. Feminists are rarely that subtle.

Mel said...

"Why do liberals play computer games like conservatives?"

- Because conservatives are rational, and even in video games this trait leads to better results than smoking pot, demanding others do the work for you, and singing kumbayah...

agnostic said...

Meth use has sharply declined over the past decade, i.e. almost right after it got started.

Google "methamphetamines decline," and there's a nice summary PDF called Methamphetamine Use Declines. It's for the nation as a whole, but two national youth surveys also show meth use among high schoolers is way down since the early 2000s: Monitoring the Future and the Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

Hard drug use peaked in the mid-late 1990s. Even back then, meth use never amounted to anything like the crack epidemic. By now it's more or less invisible.

Same thing happened during the previous wave of debauchery in the early 20th C -- it took about 5-10 years after the homicide rate peaked in 1933 for the epidemic of opium, morphine, and heroin to peak. (The recent peak in homicides was '91-'92.)

Felix M said...

Not-so-clever Not-so-Silly said, "We need a better Americanism for this phenomena of otherwise bright minds unable to comprehend the obvious like this".

I sometimes call Richard Dawkins et al "the smugs". While I use it for the new atheists, people may wish to apply it to lefties in general.

Anonymous said...

Hard drug use peaked in the mid-late 1990s. Even back then, meth use never amounted to anything like the crack epidemic. By now it's more or less invisible.

Not if it was your mom who left you to raise your siblings while she went on benders, it isn't. It might be becoming invisible to law enforcement but the real consequences are still building.

Lucille said...

Not if it was your mom who left you to raise your siblings while she went on benders, it isn't.

Your personal experiences do not make a statistical trend.

Truth said...

"Poor rural white children are going to be thrown away."

I wouldn't worry about it, IQ is destiny remember? These fine 100 IQ plus white children will shape themselves up at 18 and go on to be doctors and lawyers.

"There is a lot of truth to this and it is ALL (100%) the fault of the liberal-left and other advocates of big government. It is the dramatic increase in regulation, not labor arbitrage, that has forced much manufacturing to relocate outside the U.S."

What in the holy hell are you talking about? It is a dramatic increase in rich, white businessmen who want to pay their employees 48 cents and hour for 12 hour 6 day schedules, as opposed to 16 dollars for 5 day 40 hour-a-week schedules (with benefits and mandatory vacations).

And by the way, some of these "liberal regulations" you are talking about include:

Child labor laws
the 40 hour work week
disability
clean air and water regulations
manufacturing safety regulations
Food cleanliness regulations


In short, all of the fucking things that make this country a great place to live.

Geez man, join the real world.

Anonymous said...

@Felix M: A clergyman friend (formerly in a liberal Protestant denomination and now much happier as a conservative Roman Catholic) refers to them as the "Smuggles," in homage to J.K. Rowling.

rob said...

The meth plague caused a lot less crime crime than the crack plague for a couple of reasons.

1. hbd-no need to discuss that here
2. The supply chain for crack was illegal from start to finish. It was expensive and lucrative. Worth shooting people to get prime distribution territory. For a crack addict, the expense of the addiction was more than many jobs could cover: some turned to crime. Additionally, the up-crash-use again schedule was so short that addicts had trouble holding down jobs.

For a long time, methamphetamine was made from cold medicine and easily acquired reagents. Any serious addict could cook his own. The cottage industry effect kept the price down. It wasn't as easy to buy, because lots of people didn't sell, and didn't use around squares. Not to mention someone is more likely to try a drug by using with or buying a dime from a friend than having to set up a home chemistry set.

Aaron Baugher said...

"Meth has torn through red-state America fly-over country the same way crack ripped up the ghetto in the 1980s."

Eh. Do any of the people nodding along with this actually live in rural red-state America? I do, and while I won't say meth isn't a problem, it's drastically exaggerating it to compare it to crack in the 80s. We don't have regular drive-by shootings, for instance. I've only known one meth user, and when the judge put him away for making meth, he said the guy was the worst meth offender he'd seen. This was a guy who was making it for himself and some friends, and got pegged as the ringleader because he was the one who had a barn to store all the ingredients in. He never sold enough of it to buy a reliable car, let alone the kind of expensive toys cops take from real drug dealers to put on auction.

The people talking the most about meth are the sheriffs' offices, who always want more money to fight the "epidemic." Go to any local high school, and you'll find far more teenage pregnancy than meth use. But of course we can't criticize that, because we already "fixed" that with sex ed and abortion on demand. So we need some other sin to condemn.

Anonymous said...

Your personal experiences do not make a statistical trend.

My personal experiences are with violent black drug crime and victimless white drug "crime" among upper class degenerates. Because of this (rather fun) personal history, I can look at rural whites and see what is actually going on out there as opposed to the faked-up narrative being presented in the media, when anything is presented instead of complete radio silence.

It doesn't matter to you all, on a greater social level, because like I said, those people are going to be thrown away. They're in the backends of nowhere and nobody cares about them. They're too spread out to organize and too illiterate and ignorant to come to any understanding of what happened to them or how to fix it.

The meth epidemic is over for the people who matter. Rural whites don't matter, to anybody.

Anonymous said...

"who has vowed to never change my name"

I chuckle a little when I read such statements. Although she isn't taking her husband's name she is still keeping her father's name. A surname is a family name, it indicates what family you are from, perhaps she finds that incest is best?