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Prof. Henry Jenkins on Games, Politics & the Media

Henryyyy Jenkinnnns!

Sorry. Couldn't resist.

Anyway, GameDaily BIZ has an interview up with the Professor Jenkins (pictured) who is probably best known by GP readers as the author of Reality Bytes: Eight Myths About Video Games Debunked. Here are some highlights from the interview:

On mainstream media's insistence on linking violent games with real-world violence (especially relevant this week, given the Dawson College rampage):

"The news organizations are getting caught in a bind; they need to hold onto their core consumers who tend to skew older than most games players and tend to know very little about games as a medium... they know that these consumers are terrified of games and so they can hold their interest if they play up scare stories."

"...what the news media misses though is that because games and other forms of digital culture are so central to the lives of young people, these sensationalized and often clueless news stories help to further push them away from traditional news coverage. They are drawn to other sources, The Daily Show, Slashdot, Penny Arcade... which do take seriously the forms of cultural experience that are important to them..."

"To be really cynical... most journalists I've met seem to believe that games are a competing media and that they are losing the war for the attention of younger consumers. Trying to discredit games seems to be a last ditch effort to prevent that erosion...
"

On the idea that video games are more dangerous to children because of their interactive nature, Prof. Jenkins says:

"...a few decades ago, critics of television complained that television violence was bad because television was a passive medium and children had no way to 'work off' the intense emotions it generated... When I am hitting a controller... I know that what I am doing has no realistic relationship to what is occurring inside the game world. And that knowledge becomes part of what frees me to engage in antisocial fantasies which would be repugnant to me in the real world... "

On the recent rash of video game laws:

"...the American government has no business, under our First Amendment, either investigating or regulating the contents of our culture. Going after games has been the way that liberals can court moderates and cultural conservatives without betraying a core constituency... they think this will win over the soccer moms."

And that doesn't even scratch the surface of this must-read interview. Other topics include Jenkins's new book, Convergence Culture: Where Old & New Media Collide, the validity of video game studies as a college major and how Jenkins rates the ESRB rating system.

-Reporting from San Diego, GP Correspondent Andrewwww Eiseeeen!

Tags: harvard, henry jenkins, interviews
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