Publication Details

Wilson, J. A. (2002). Performance, anxiety: The video games arcade and urban space. M/C: A Journal of Media and Culture, 5 (2).


In a recent gaming anthology, Henry Jenkins cannot help contrasting his son's cramped, urban, media-saturated existence with his own idyllic, semi-rural childhood. After describing his own Huck Finn meanderings over "the spaces of my boyhood" including the imaginary kingdoms of Jungleoca and Freedonia, Jenkins relates his version of his son's experiences:

My son, Henry, now 16 has never had a backyard He has grown up in various apartment complexes, surrounded by asphalt parking lots with, perhaps, a small grass buffer from the street… Once or twice, when I became exasperated by my son's constant presence around the house I would … tell him he should go out and play. He would look at me with confusion and ask, where? … Who wouldn't want to trade in the confinement of your room for the immersion promised by today's video games? … Perhaps my son finds in his video games what I found in the woods behind the school, on my bike whizzing down the hills of suburban backstreets, or settled into my treehouse with a good adventure novel intensity of experience, escape from adult regulation; in short, "complete freedom of movement". (Jenkins 1998, 263-265).