Friday, August 22, 2008


I have killed many things. Terrorists, counterterrorists, pedestrians, goombas, orcs, Pharaohman, soldiers, the Flood, robots, The Squids (the entire gang), Odin, and many more. I have no doubt that a crude goal (get to the end, gain XP, clear the screen of enemies, beat the clock) creates a mentality where living things are transformed into expendable obstacles. Indeed, in some video games I go out of my way to kill things in order to improve my character's stats. This is the process of desensitization that mainstream news networks advertise.

I have yet to hear about the higher brow literary desensitization.

I was reading Kosinski's The Painted Bird last night and I reached the part, early in the book, where the main character watches a group of boys torture a squirrel by lighting it on fire. I wasn't emotionally affected at all because I found myself musing over what the author wanted the squirrel to symbolize.

Desensitization is the process of accepting violence. This occurs when it is overshadowed by a goal (as in video games and war) or by assigning it symbolic value (as in literature and politics).

While looking for an image of a Goomba being stomped I stumbled on these two wonderful sites:
Stitched pixel art
Video Game haLOLz

1 comment:

Liz said...

I couldn't help it. That little animal felt so real when I read it that I wanted to be sick. Perhaps I can give it a different kind of reading the second time around.