This Gamer Array is a meditation on video and computer games and also on cartoons. It will take far less than 70 hours to put in play. (Many video or computer games take at least this long to complete, even if you're very experienced; a good number take many more hours than 70.) Gamer was assembled using found content with additions unmark'd, plus value-added content. Some settling of contents may have occured.

Explore the different Levels listed below, keeping your defenses ready and on the look-out for gems and power-ups. Best to start with Level One and then move on down the list and up the Levels. The goal of this Gamer Array: to take your experience of video games to a different Level.

No way I'm a good gamer. I fall for all the traps, I'm too impatient, my short-term memory isn't nearly as good as an 8-year-old. I'm an old dog: new tricks don't come easy, though I'll pay attention for the right kind of bone. But I have a different, renegade strategy for how to game: as follows.

Question: do video games reflect US culture in 1999, or is it the reverse? Or is this really the wrong question to be asking? Maybe "reflect" is too simple (implies a one-directional cause/effect relationship). Yet how are these games changing us, and vice versa?

Don't worry, what follows is not just a random screed against violence in games, or a defense of it: the either/or assumptions behind these arguments are impossible. The violence is there, and violence is always a symptom: of what? Ideas and power-ups on this are hidden below.

But what if games were approached from another angle? (Always search everywhere in a level, or a topic.) What if we check games out to see if they teach survival skills, tricks of memory, precision, improvisation & other good stuff? Could they be teaching what's cool about both teamwork and independent thinking? What kind of sense of humor (also a survival skill, btw) do gamers learn? And (frightening thought) could these games also be teaching us how to focus on what we most fear in ourselves?


Quick facts:

In 1998, 181 million games were sold in the U.S., statistically almost 2 games per household. First-person shooter games such as Doom and Quake accounted for only 6 percent of the games available in 1998. But such games can represent a huge proportion of the total sales and profits made from games. The action genre earned game-makers almost 1.5 billion dollars in 1998 in North America alone. The top game of 1999 as of June, Half Life, in which a scientist must blow away aleins and human troops to save the Earth, made more than $5 million---$3 million more than the next most popular PC game.

No jumping to conclusions about who is playing these games. Katherine Anna Kang, director of business development for id Software, makers of Quake, has said that over 25% of players who registered their Quake II were female.

---sources: Deborah Claymon, "Game-makers Feeling the Heat for Violence," Philadelphia Inquirer 6-17-99, F1, F7; and (for the info on women fans of Quake) David Kushner, "She Got Game," Village Voice 7-6-99, 34.

How much more violent can games get? (There's a visual limit to how graphic the violent "realism" can be.) How much more can this style of game really develop (as opposed to just spinning off variations?) The technology of other forms of action games that aren't "first person shooter" games, however, may be improving at a faster pace, allowing for more detailed characters, voices, quirks.

Improving role-playing and improv skills, vs. improving quick-flick trigger-fingers.... In the long run, the future of computer gaming may depend on better role-playing games; maybe the real break-throughs with these kinds of games are still ahead.

Role-playing computer games as the trickster tales of the future....

"I wish I knew where all this played out," a senior official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

[Premillennial Tension : 1999]


 Gamer Table of Levels

Level One

The Shadow Temple


Meeting Up With Beryl

Level Two

Spirit Temple Levels

White Gloves & Black Gloves

Level Three

Enjoy Immunity


The Fort Benning Freedom Games

Street Sweeper

Level Four

Computer/Video Gamer Grrrls; Or, Lara Croft's Craft




Level Five