- Loss of Discernment between the Real and the Virtual
- VATICAN CITY (ZENIT.org)
- Today's issue of L'Osservatore Romano carries an article on the ultimate
craze in amusements in Italy: "The Electric Chair Game."
- According to the Italian edition of the Vatican newspaper,
an amusement hall began to enjoy unexpected success when it premiered this
"disconcerting and macabre frontier of amusement" -- "just
like a condemned criminal, [the player] sits on a wooden chair, identical
to the one used in capital punishment in [some parts of] the United States
and, after inserting a few coins, undergoes the chilling experience of
the electric chair."
- Virtually Real
- "Whole families wait in line. Hundreds of children,
adolescents, and adults fill the hall to see 'who can last the longest,'
to see who makes it to the end. The winner is the one who 'lets himself
be killed,' those who give up before the end are 'chicken.' "
- The contraption has all the required elements to elicit
strong emotions -- electrodes placed on the wrists, belts, rungs, background
music that grows in volume, lights that come on when the "convict"
"dies." Of course, everything is virtual, with no risk to health,
the proprietors of the hall insist. The whole thing consists of a intense
prickly feeling in the hands, and a strong emotional impact, when the body
feels unexpected vibrations that rapidly intensify.
- "It is all virtual, of course, except for a human
reality that is perplexing and preoccupying. Beyond the obvious disconcert
over the macabre pleasure that gives meaning to the idea, the news is distressing
for two reasons," explained the article.
- Who Remembers Those Who Are "Really" Condemned?
"Above all because the tragic reality of the death penalty becomes
a game (experienced directly in first person). Those who are brave in the
sight of their friends have demonstrated 'courage' and feel excited by
the discharge of adrenaline; but,do the players in this imitation of the
electric chair have any idea of the tragedy of those who wait for the executioner
to truly end their earthly existence?"
- The organizers of the game answered by saying that "Those
who are alive know nothing about the death penalty, and do not ask themselves
so many questions."
- L'Osservatore Romano states "If this is really the
case, it certainly is sad. Why don't they know anything? Why don't they
want to know? If they know, why don't they see the problem?"
- For the Vatican newspaper, it is precisely this superficial
culture, transmitted especially to children and youth, that is the great
problem posed by the game.
- Video-Game Logic
- The second source of concern, according to the Vatican
newspaper, is "the video-game logic" that hides behind this experience.
"Is the game over? It doesn't matter, I have another life. When the
sign, 'game over,' appears, another coin can be inserted and it can start
all over again. All is repeated obsessively, with the credibility that
electronic progress has made impressive. However, if the boundary between
life and death is so convincingly and intensely annulled by the game, could
it not result in causing a highly dangerous confusion between fiction and
- "Is this not what is happening increasingly in the
numerous episodes reported, where the protagonists are children and youths
who invent the crime 'game' to overcome boredom? Is this not what happens
in the delirious nocturnal races in cars going at crazy speeds and driven
as though it were a video game? Except that in such cases, the game ends
in tragedy, the race ends badly, and there is no coin to start the game
again," L'Osservatore Romano alerts.
- The article ends with a final question: "Do we want
our youth to understand this, or will we calmly continue to line up with
our children to 'play the electric chair'" game?"
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