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<nettime> Simon Parkin: If only Brexit had been a (computer) game (Guard
Patrice Riemens on Sun, 3 Jul 2016 23:59:11 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Simon Parkin: If only Brexit had been a (computer) game (Guardian)

Original to:

If only Brexit had been a game
Current real-world politics remind us why so many prefer the ordered 
fairness of gaming

During the run-up to the general election, my children and I took our 
new puppy for a walk around the block. A campaigner for Ukip, presumably 
spying a happy scene ripe for spoiling, approached. If there was, as the 
prime minister once suggested, racism in the Ukip pamphleteer’s closet, 
its whiff did not dampen the generosity of our dog’s greeting. As the 
man handed me a sticky leaflet, the puppy peed in excitement on his 
shoes, before trying to hump his leg, wetly.

The scene was a cause of great hilarity for my children, none of whom 
will be able to vote for another two general elections. “Barney peed on 
the Ukip man,” they’d tell bewildered visitors during the following days 
and weeks. It was a minor victory for a generation to whom so much worse 
has been done by this political class.

As with any divorce, Brexit will hurt the children most – and not just 
because it has introduced an insufferable portmanteau into their coming 
history lessons. Its effects will be felt by the youngest for decades, a 
final blow from baby boomers who have, obliviously or otherwise, 
systematically spoiled their descendant’s chances over the course of 
their lifetimes. Ours is the first generation that will be worse off 
than that of our parents. Many will never own a home. Many will struggle 
to find employment. All will have to contend with our new demented 
weather, a climate disease contracted by the boomers, with which the 
young must now attempt to deal if they’re to survive a wet, sweltering 

In this context, it is no great mystery that video games are the 
preferred medium of the under-40s. They appeal for a great many reasons. 
It might be the team sport-like camaraderie and sense of shared 
accomplishment they provide. It might be plain escapism, the way they 
present a place of relative calm into which one can retreat and fire off 
a few virtual rounds into some aliens in Halo, or tug at a few virtual 
weeds in Animal Crossing. But often, beyond the shots of dopamine, we 
play video games to escape the pressures and anxieties of the world or, 
more precisely, to replicate them in forms that can be more easily 

Games, in other words, offer a metaphor for a vision of life that can be 
ordered, understood and conquered. They are fair and just in a way that 
the real world is not. The game makes its player a fair bargain: “Give 
me your time and energy and you will prevail in accordance with your 
effort.” It says: “Work hard and victory will be yours. You will be 

While most politicians believe they came to power in a meritocracy, few 
would dare to make such a promise of plain fairness to the proletariat 

Games function more like the natural world than the political world: 
they are reassuringly underpinned by order, logic and mathematical 
equations. For that reason, they are comforting. Politics, by contrast, 
is chaotic and unpredictable. Outcomes can be swayed and interrupted by 
personalities, opportunists and, in this post-fact, post-truth world, 
the allure of disinformation.

Moreover, games provide us with unending second chances. Thanks to 
Mario’s stock of lives, there’s always a do-over, a chance to try out 
new approaches in search of the optimum strategy, a way to wind back the 
clock to the precise moment before a terminal mistake. On the world 
stage, unlike in the virtual domain, we may now have to watch as fear 
trumps love. As our grandparents know so well, there are no do-overs for 
this. No wonder video games are so appealing.

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