You’ve probably seen this article on a videogame tournament to be held at the Sacramento Public Library. It’s called “Nerd Fest: Black Ops Tournament,” which gives you a pretty good idea of the lengths to which libraries will go trying to remain “relevant.”
Apparently, this “Black Ops” is popular with gamers, who, like plebs at the Roman circus, glory in ultraviolent escapism. Videogames always seem sort of childish to me. I realize adults play them, too, but I assume that’s so they can get a sense of accomplishment and recognition in a virtual world they can’t get in the real one.
The local chapter of Veterans for Peace and others are calling for the event to be canceled, thinking that libraries promoting violent war games is inappropriate, but the library director is having none of it. I do wonder about some of the defenses of the tournament, though.
For example, according to the article, the director “said the Dec. 11 tournament at the library’s downtown branch is part of a renewed effort at ‘making sure everyone in the community knows we have something for them.’”
That’s a laudable goal, but is it true? Does any library really have something for everyone in the community? Or just people who consume print and digital media in some way? Does that library have pots and pans and small appliances that people can rent out? What about bowling shoes? Power tools? Garden implements? Tuxedos? Jewelry?
If not, I suggest the library start acquiring all that stuff, if it really wants to make sure it has something for “everyone in the community.”
Or again, she “said that while her first choice would not be to promote a war game, the popularity of games such as Black Ops brings young people together in a way few other activities can.” But what was the other choice? Wasn’t it not to promote a war game? Oh, but it brings young people together!
True, but is bringing young people together the purpose of a library? If so, then there are probably other activities that would work even better. Offer free pizza and beer every night. Or maybe a private dimly lit room with some comfortable sofas and sexy music playing in the background; that’ll bring some young people together, all right!
Given that this is a very violent videogame, the next remark is rather odd as well. “’Perhaps it’s promoting some understanding,’ she said. ‘I would rather we engage with people in that way than through real violence.’”
Huh? Perhaps the reporter caught her off guard. The second sentence is a witty comeback to the Veterans for Peace, but the first sentence is strange. Does anyone believe that games like this promote some understanding of violence? That’s highly unlikely. It’s more likely that the Veterans for Peace object because they have a real understanding of violence.
Obviously games like this promote understanding of nothing other than how to play games like this. But what’s interesting about the director’s rhetoric is how she searches for higher purposes in what is nothing other than an exercise in entertainment for the masses.
Think about it. “Bringing young people together.” “Promoting understanding.” It sounds like a consciousness-raising session or an anti-nuke protest, not a bunch of nerds sitting around playing violent videogames.
This exalted rhetoric won’t fool anyone.I wonder if all that consciousness-raising stuff was for the reporters, because from what I can glean about the carnies and the gamey librarians, they don’t exactly go in for understanding or moral uplift. To them, Black Ops in the library is justifiable for its own sake if anyone comes in to play.
Everything is “information,” after all, and that’s what the library provides. Black Ops. Internet porn (sorry, “constitutionally protected speech,” as the porn librarians put it). As long as people want it, it belongs in the library!
I don’t know if libraries ever had a serious purpose, but if so those days are gone. Libraries are trying too desperately to be popular. They are like the little chubby kid with thick glasses hoping not to be picked last for the Tax-Supported Public Service team. If they lose their purpose and become entertainment centers, there will be no reason to pick them at all.