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What the original Lester Bangs thought about video games

I blogged earlier today about my Wired News column about why there isn’t yet a Lester Bangs — a well-known, genre-defining critic — for video games. You can read the column here and here, but one of the points I made was that video games have been the first new form of entertainment to grow up in age of blogging — where amateur writers outstrip the pros. Sure, there’s no Lester Bangs for video games in Rolling Stone, nor a comparable Pauline Kael in the New Yorker. But there are thousands of smart, thoughtful bloggers and forum members that every day post better writing than the stuff you’ll read in the mainstream press.

In particular, I namechecked 1UP, the excellent video-game community site. Today I went to the 1UP forums, pumped in “Lester Bangs” to see what people were saying, and found that a guy named Mark Freid had posted this exchange from a 1982 with Lester Bangs himself:

Interviewer: Do you think there’s a danger of rock ‘n’ roll becoming extinct?

Bangs: Yeah, sure. Definitely.

Interviewer: What would there be to take its place?

Bangs: Video games. A lot of things we don’t like to think about.

It’s both prophetic and inadvertantly meta. Perfect.

By the way, if you go to the discussion thread where that quote came from, read through the entire thing. You’ll see what I mean about why the online world is eating the pros for lunch in video-game criticism. The posters are smart, erudite, casual, passionate — everything you’d want in video-game writing.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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