Pattern and Patience: The Beginning of ‘Everything Bad…”

My initial response to the first 25 pages of Steven Johnson’s Everything Bad Is Good For You was pure frustration.  As someone who from the age of nine believed video games were an equivalent to novels in many ways, and saw a future where games would surpass other media in content and significance, I eagerly looked to Steven Johnson to champion this cause with the same fervor.

Johnson begins by shedding light on his youth, his experience with die-based games, and in turn, where his love of games originated.   He surmises his point by saying that his youth was not an unusual existence, but an entirely common one.  He continues by stating that the kind of thinking employed by those activities (systems analysis, probability theory, pattern recognition, and patience) have become key components of today’s mass media.

I responded simply: How?  I need examples to back up this claim.  Unfortunately, no examples of how these practices integrated into contemporary media were given.  This was also the case with his assertions that our media culture is getting more intellectually demanding.  These statements cannot mean anything to me without some proof of their validity.

In part one, Johnson begins to compare the value of books to that of video games.  He makes a great argument, but then spends three pages undercutting his own point.  This was maddening.  But, towards the end of the assigned reading, Johnson’s aim began to take focus.  Specifically, on how gaming is a multifaceted and intellectually demanding medium.

Then I realized the ignorance of my aggravation.  I was getting flustered about the first 25 pages of a 250-page book.  I imposed my own sense of duty to the video game cause on Johnson, and expected him to share my same overzealousness.

I have re-read these 25 pages a few times now, and I very glad I waited until my blood stopped boiling to post this response.  I look forward to the rest of the book, but now, with patience.


Post Author: jonathan.andersen

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