Wacky old Peter Hitchens — brother to the late, great Christopher, former socialist, current cane-shaking conservative, probable owner of a powdered wig — has turned his formidable intellect to Grand Theft Auto V. And what he has found has left him morally outraged, agog, monocle forever shattered. The best bits:
1. "If the Devil had his own bible, it would probably take the form of a computer game."
This is the first sentence. For some reason I'm most put off by Hitchens' assumption that the devil is male. Others may find this courtly and a little sweet.
2. "It would offer the player the joys of money, successful violence and easy, responsibility-free sex."
As as a person who has spent money and engaged in sexual intercourse, I can comfortably refute this point. I'm left to believe that Hitchens has either A) Never spent money or had sex, or B) Never played a video game.
I'm not sure what the joy of successful violence is, though. I'm also not sure what successful violence is.
3. "None of your pleasures would be paid for in coin, pain or grief."
Does this mean that pleasures paid for in coin are, contra the Devil's game-bible, godly? What a relief this will be to the whoremongers, drug-takers, and gluttons of the world!
4. "Everyone else in the game would be disposable and forgettable. And it would contain one big lie. You would come out at the end happy and unharmed, and wanting more."
Wait, d'ya mean to tell me that fiction is one big lie? Does that mean all those other things that are fiction, like novels, and films and stuff, that those aren't real either? No wonder all of those really good movies and novels left me wanting more...
5. "Officially it’s for those aged 18 and over, but nobody takes that seriously in modern, child-hating Britain. If you haven’t got it, you’re not cool."
I really have to take issue with this. I don't live in "modern Britain" but I did major in literature and I have read my share of Charles Dickens. Britain has always hated children.
Also, I would contest that idea that a teenager who does not play video games is uncool, from my perspective as a person who did play video games as a teenager.
6. "For every one who goes on a rampage shooting, there are thousands whose school work goes off the rails, thousands who treat girls like toys, thousands who consider callousness, dishonesty and bad manners as normal."
7. "Many years ago in a French seaport town, I saw...a vision of evil. In a grubby cafe a boy of about 11 or 12 was ceaselessly feeding coins into one of the crude gaming machines then available...
His eyes were blank, the skin of his face was dry and horribly pale. He looked as if he rarely ate. He was (this was, after all, France) smoking a cigarette. I swore at that moment that I would protect any child under my authority from this influence."
Hitchens didn't have to travel far from England, beacon of the civilized, to find a vision of Conradian evil: not even to the colonies, only to a Catholic country! Specifically France, where they smoke cigarettes and fornicate, probably. Specifically a seaport town, where dark Mediterranean winds blow sin up from the indolent and mad South and the inscrutable East.
If such evil were allowed to spread to England, the children of St. George might grow pale and tobacco-stained. Perish the thought!
8. "These games kill our imaginations, which help us to be kind, and replace them with the liquid manure of pure selfishness, which helps us to be cruel."
Joe Bernstein is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Bernstein reports on and writes about the gaming industry and web culture.
Contact Joseph Bernstein at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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