Matt's nu-metal comment strikes a chord with me. Nowadays, even bands like Cannibal Corpse and GWAR - while they're not really nu-metal - draw little more than awkward glances from concerned parents. But in the '50s, Buddy Holly and Elvis had entire committees trying to get them thrown in jail for being social deviants, corrupting our youth and turning them into serial killers. Sounds a lot like the videogame industry, only Buddy Holly probably got more girls than John Romero. I ask Matt what our next demon will be.
"I don't know what will be next. If you look back at the things that inspired that kind of public outcry, it seems like they bubble up from subcultures that are already stigmatized to a certain degree," he says. "Punk rock, D&D, Lenny Bruce, hip-hop - or indeed any musical form pioneered by African-Americans ... all of them were easy to demonize because they came from subcultures that were - and still are - actively denigrated by the mainstream. At the risk of sounding pompous, those who want to predict the cultural flashpoints of tomorrow should probably look at the stereotypes and prejudices they hold today."
As our conversation comes to a close, I ask Matt to gaze into his crystal ball and tell me how people will perceive us 50 years into the future, since he did such a great job of encapsulating the past. "In 50 years, these will officially be the Good Old Days. Our technology and culture will seem quaint to the point of amusement, but there will also be a sizable group of fogies and blowhards whining that everything's gone to hell since then. And of course they'll need something to blame it on - but it won't be videogames, it'll be something new," he says.
His last thought makes me think on the drive home. When I make it into my apartment, I load up Stubbs again, this time trying to keep up with all of Soell's deep references and stereotypes, only to find myself unable to actually keep up with the game. I push down my fedora, crank up the volume, and by the time I'm dancing against Punchbowl's chief of police, I'm back at the top of my game. I guide Stubbs through Matt's world a while longer before realizing it's 2:00 a.m. and long past my bed time. I put the game back in its case and decide to place it on a bookshelf, away from where I normally store my old games, because this one crossed a barrier; it said something.
Joe Blancato is a Content Editor for [i]The Escapist Magazine[/I].