All this came back to my mind when I was talking to one of my students. He's a fan of video games and anime, but also of "Beowulf," and the classics. We were talking about video games and anime when he mentioned that the stories in anime spoke to him because they were so often about growing up and, since that's what he's still doing, they were a good way for him to reflect on that process. Thinking back on my own experience, he's right. The best video games, and many of the best anime series, are meditations on what it means to transition from a boy to a man. No wonder teenagers and college students like them so much. They have the same appeal that Haggard or Heanty's penny dreadfuls would have had a century ago.
Another of my student is writing his senior thesis in defense of video games. It's an odd choice in that video games have more wide spread acceptance than ever before (thank you World of Warcraft). Why defend something that has finally become mainstream and is no longer a guilty pleasure? Ironically, as video games have gone mainstream, they are more in need of defending as adult tastes import into them increasing levels of violence, escapism, and sexuality. It seems as though all the wildest worries of the naysayers are coming true. In spite of this decadence, the video game is not going away any time soon, far from it, but it may be in danger of losing its moorings; of forgetting its purpose. In light of this shift, we need people who are willing to devote time and energy to meditating on the value, and role of video games in modern life. If there really is something good and worthy in these amusements, then now, more than ever, they will need defending; both from their supporters as well as their detractors.