There’s still a lot to be said in the “games as art” or even “games as legitimate forms of expression and entertainment” debate, and articles like this will… probably work for both sides. Tom Bissell was a successful and prolific writer, but after a cocaine-fueled run through (ironically) GTA:Vice City, he found himself more and more a slave to the console. He’s battling it as he would any other addiction in some ways, but what makes it different to him (different from, say, his coke habit) is that his experiences aren’t fleeting, chemical fantasies but episodes of true profundity and emotion. It’s an interesting story.
His game habit has certainly reached the point of interrupting his productive life (at which point is is properly called a pathological addiction), and the persistent stigma on games as junk experiences gives the habit as negative an air as a drug addiction. But it’s worth noting, as he does to some degree but not enough, in my opinion, is show that his time with games is as meaningful to him as, say, a trip to the museum would be to an art lover. If he says he finds meaning and transcendent beauty in things like the skyscrapers of Liberty City, can anyone really contradict him?
One of the consequences of Generation i and Generation X growing up is the implicit acceptance of games next to TV and movies as perfectly acceptable and potentially important creative works. It’s exciting, and while the controversy will rage for years to come, we’ve got smart and introspective writers like Tom on our side, as well as beautiful and intelligent games like Portal and Shadow of the Colossus. Hold the line!