Posts Tagged ‘X-Box’

Firstly: my maiden guest blog is now live, courtesy of Katie over at Sophistikatied Reviews! You can read it here.

Secondly: I am currently obsessed with rummaging through our self-storage space.

As keen readers of this blog may have had occasion to note, Toby and I have been overseas for the past five months. Before that, we gave up our lease and stayed with his parents before flying out; now that we’re back, they’ve been kind enough to put us up again, while I’ve been dayjobhunting and the two of us have been looking for a place. This means that, barring a few outfits, a handful of books and some DVDs, everything we own is boxed, stacked and stored on the fourth floor of a neaby self-storage facility. Ironically, a lot of what’s there will be sold or thrown out once we’re in a position to reclaim it, but until that day comes, there it sits: a small mound of un-or-mislabelled boxes, bags of random crap, dodgy furniture and reams of household utensils, all serving to obscure the location of anything I might actually want.

We moved everything ourselves, so it’s not like we can blame this poor stacking on anyone else. Toby did most of the arranging, but seeing as how he’d also had to lift our fridge, a daybed, four bookshelves and two lounges virtually on his own after the Great Unmentionable Incident Wherein A Certain Husband Who Shall Remain Nameless Dropped The Fridge On His Wife’s Forearms And Hand, Thereby Bruising Her For Weeks And Rendering Her Even Less Able To Cart Heavy Things Around Than She Already Was, Although Why We Never Roped Some Stronger Friends In To Help From The Outset Is Beyond Me, I’m inclined to forgive him.

The point being, the room is disorganised, virtually impenetrable, and full of boxes whose contents cannot be ascertained by any lesser action than opening them. All the bags with our clothes are in the back lefthand corner, unable to be moved because (a) they can’t be reached and (b) even if they could, they’re the only thing stopping the lounges from falling over. All the tiny boxes with useful things in them, like my PlayStation and the X-Box controllers, are in the back righthand corner, hidden behind about 45 larger, decidedly heavier boxes containing a combined half-century’s-worth of books. The DVDs are interspersed with the books, and the only readily accessible things are, for reasons I cannot fathom, utterly useless, like – for instance – Toby’s Cylon bubble-bath container and my stuffed toy turkey. In order to achieve anything at all, I have to move three bags (two light, one heavy), a box of philosophy books, the TV (fortunately a flatscreen) and the case of my ancient desktop computer out into the hallway, stand on top of our ancient, surprisingly sturdy gas-heater, boost myself between the fridge and the edge of the bedframe to climb onto the upturned edge of one of the lounges, and spend five minutes surveying my weird, incessessable domain, like a cat who’s found her way to the top of the tallest cupboard. Only then may I begin the task of figuring out which boxes to move where in order to progress my excavations.

If you’re thinking that this all sounds extremely inconvenient and difficult, you aren’t wrong. It’s a cramped, dusty, sweaty environment, and though, after three lengthy visits, I’ve only managed to retrieve a smattering of DVDs, four books and our edition of Trivial Persuit, I cannot for the life of me keep away.

I don’t know what it is. Ever since Toby gave me the key, it’s been exuding a siren-song. Or, wait. I do know what it is: I want my goddam PlayStation 2. For about a week now, I’ve been dreaming of landscapes from Final Fantasy VII and XII, and every time I go there, it’s with the secret hope of striking the jackpot. Not, of course, that I can remember which box the actual games are in, and as I’ve discovered today, while the X-Box 360 and all its cords were in one place, the controllers most certainly are in another. Frustrating, to say the least. But on another level, it’s more than that. The feeling I get when moving the boxes around is almost identical to the way I used to feel when, as a kid or teenager, I’d take it upon myself to rearrange my room. I’ve never had much in the way of upper body strength, but that was part of the fun: with only me to lift the bed, mattress, books, shelves and furniture, I had to find a way of juggling, shoving things around until I could edge them all into their new locations. It was still physically tiring, but also an odd source of intellectual satisfaction. Here was something I’d done, despite the obvious difficulties, and with a visible result to show from it!

When she was younger, my grandmother used to get a similar kick out of rearrangement: my mother and uncle would come home from school and find that the whole house had been moved around. Right now, trying to clear a path through our storage room falls into a similar category of endeavour. Gods help me, it is actually fun.

Which worries me, on a number of levels. But not enough to stop me from going back. After all, that PlayStation has to be somewhere.

As a child, there are few things more heady than playing without adult supervision, and few things more crucial to healthy development. It’s a big part of learning to gauge social situations: particularly, the idea that it’s often necessary to behave differently depending on the circumstances. Looked at purely in terms of running around or socialising while adults read in the next room, it’s a sensible – even obvious – assumption. Kids need to be on their own. Should they start picking up bad habits – for instance, acting like hoydens all the time – then parents must rightly step in and explain why this behaviour is inappropriate. The very last resort is banning play itself, or forbidding a child to see certain friends, not just because it’s an extreme measure, but because of the difficulties in enforcing it. 

Now, however, the rise in digital gamespaces has created a phenomenon that many parents are yet to recognise as significant: adolescent participation in virtual and online communities. Time was, punishing bad behaviour by revoking a child’s TV, computer, phone or game-playing privileges was a parental standard: the ace up the adult sleeve. But with so many kids and teenagers relying heavily on new technology for social interaction, blacklisting internet use or taking away consoles has become the equivalent of prohibiting contact with friends. Unintentionally, some parents are upgrading their retaliatory arsenal from standard bombs to nuclear, and are therefore miffed and furious by turns when their child’s reaction seems over the top. The worst-case scenario is, undoubtably, that of Brandon Crisp, a 15-year-old who ran away after being banned from playing X-Box and was later found dead. His father, who’d imposed the ban, is understandably grieved by the tragedy, but has also said that he now understands his son’s reaction.

“I just took away his identity, so I can understand why he got mad and took off. Before, I couldn’t understand why he was taking off for taking his game away,” he said.

It’s a notably drastic example, but one which does, perhaps, exemplify the problem: how do parents withold technological privilege now without simultaneously removing avenues of social contact? It’s a tough question, and one I don’t have an answer to, despite being sympathetic to both positions. It is also, however, something I’ve experienced myself.

When I was about twelve or so, my mother took me to coffee with one of her friends. This friend had a daughter, Michelle, who, apart from being my age, was a born technology geek, and in this respect utterly dissimilar to her mother. The women chatted while I drank my hot chocolate; and then, quite suddenly, my mother’s friend mentioned how angry and irrational Michelle had been acting ever since she banned her from using the internet. Curious, I asked why she’d banned her; the friend replied that Michelle had been leaving a program open that used up their bandwidth. After a short discussion, it became apparent that the program in question was Kazaa, a two-way music download site of the old, pre-iTunes-and-collapse-of-Napster ouevre, and that the bandwidth was being used up because Michelle was allowing other users to download songs from her.

‘So why not just say she can’t use the site?’ I asked, puzzled and a little indignant on Michelle’s behalf. ‘Or that she can’t let other people download songs? Because taking away the internet, I mean, that’s a big thing. That means she can’t check her email, or chat to friends – ‘ both crucial when we were twelve – ‘or anything like that. It’s a big punishment.’ I tried very hard to stress this.

My mother’s friend frowned, shrugged and waved a hand.

‘Oh, but I don’t care about any of that,’ she said, and promptly changed the subject.

In the scheme of things, it wasn’t a big incident, but the injustice of it frustrated me for some time afterwards. The punishment was grossly disproportionate to the crime, and what was worse, Michelle’s mother didn’t seem to care, even after it was explained and even though it explained her daughter’s behaviour. To her, the importance of chat and internet were nil, and so removing them oughtn’t have been a problem: my protest (and, presumably, Michelle’s) was just another sign of unwarranted complaint. Now, of course, I’m free to use teh interwebnologies as I please; Kazaa is long since gone, and I haven’t used Trillian for years. But it makes me wonder: when I have kids of my own, will I understand what’s important to them?

And, more importantly, will I be willing to learn?

….a mess. But an insightful mess! Behold: my natural habitat.

1. Meaning and Necessity, by Rudolf Carnap. My Long-Suffering Husband (LSH) is, as has been mentioned, a logician/philosopher; this book was part of my first-year wedding anniversary present to him. Underneath is a tome on non-classical logic, while further down the table one may spy works on both symbolic logic and models and ultraproducts – huzzah! Sufficed to say, I don’t read them. Unless I’m suffering from insomnia. Or, even then, perhaps not.

2. Ugh boots. These also belong to the LSH, but as they are warm and overlarge, I’ve been known to make use of them during cold Melbourne winters, or whenever I feel like clomping.

3. More logic papers. Note the extreme proliferation of Greek and algebraic symbols. Know what they mean? ‘Coz I don’t.

4. A crude communications device, referred to in some literature as a “mobile phone”, or mobilius phoney in the Latin. This one belongs to the LSH.

5. Unopened mail from my university containing this week’s lecture on pop culture. (Best thing about distance education: pausing or fast-forwarding the lecturer at your whim. If only real life were so obliging.) 

6. Unopened superannuation mail, to be set aside in a kitchen drawer until such time as my father calls and asks why I still have three different providers, and when will I get around to rolling them over? As a result, I will send it to him. He will read it, make a note of the contents, file it in another drawer full of similarly uninteresting but frustratingly important data, make timely remarks about my financial future, and then all will be well with the universe. 

7. An alabaster chess board, which was an awesome wedding present.

8. Pertinent reading material (mine).

9. Trashy action movie of the Brendan Fraser oeuvre.

10. Chocolatey goodness.

11. My iPod – another awesome wedding gift. You can tell it’s mine, because the rubber circle thingies have come off the ear buds and there’s a slight scratch on the screen. Contents include an amalgam of Buffy soundtracks/songs, 90’s rock and the entire Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series.

12. Salt and pepper shakers. We have no kitchen table worthy of the name, and so end up eating in the lounge. This makes us lazy.

13. Nintendo nunchuku!

14. Beginner-sized knitting needles. I’d post a photo of the (I use the word laughingly) scarf I finished yesterday, but one of the cats is sleeping on it. There is no untruth in saying that this is the best possible to use to which it could be put.

15. Headphones. All the better to hear you with. Or not.

16. There is, I swear, some kind of God-Damned breeding factory for water bottles in our house. We never buy them – in fact, I can think of only one we’ve purchased in the past year and a half – and yet they just show up, like the creepy Mormon lady who knows my name. This one, at least, holds some actual water.

17. Nutritional sugary goodness.

18. The Wiimote. (Thinks: I wonder if I can fit in some tennis before bed?)

19. Glasses tend to accumulate on our table. There’s no real excuse. Bad Foz. 

20. TV remote. Ah, bringer of entertainment!

21. X-Box 360 remote. Our DVD player died of mysterious causes some time ago, so now we use the X-Box instead, largely because it comes equipped with this handy, cordless doodad.

22. X-Box controller. The LSH and I are intermittent gamers: my addiction to Final Fantasy and Mario Kart has been well-documented, while he tends more towards first person shooters. The console was my last Christmas gift to him, so that we could play Halo together – ironically, however, this doesn’t often happen, as whenever I’m winning (most of the time), he has a tendency to drop suddenly out of the map, grumbling inaudibly about the unfairness of shotguns, swords and plasma grenades. Currently, though, he’s playing The Force Unleashed. Which is shiny.

And, finally: 

23. The LSH himself. Or at least, his hip and guitar-print shorts.

What does your coffee table say about you?