OBSESSION….I have to say that this essay by English teacher Patrick Welsh in the Washington Post today is a puzzler. He starts out by saying that he wonders why boys are so obsessed with video games ? potentially a good hook for a piece ? but then spends his remaining 2,000 words wondering why boys are so obsessed by video games. However, aside from asking a couple of his students about this, and then watching them play for a bit, he never actually tries to answer the question. Why are boys so obsessed with video games, Pat?

Whatever the answer, it appears to be another sign of the decline of Western Civilization. As near as I can tell, pretty much this exact same essay could have been written 30 years ago about TV, 60 years ago about radio, 90 years ago about movies, or a bit further in the past about dance halls, saloons, or penny novels. Sadly, great literature has never been all that popular among the youth of the world, regardless of what our rose tinted hindsight might suggest.

Anyway, as long as I’m at this, I’ll answer Welsh’s question. Boys these days are obsessed with videogames because boys throughout history have had a remarkable ability to obsess about things for uncounted hours: video games, computer programming, throwing balls around, practicing their swordfighting, whatever. The ability of young men to lose themselves to obsession is probably responsible for both more progress and more suffering than just about any personality trait I can think of.

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