Skip to content
Subscriber Only
Tyler Cowen

How Gaming Will Change Humanity as We Know It

The self-contained nature of games means they are not only eroding mass culture but also making government regulation more difficult.

Just warming up.

Just warming up.

Photographer: Michael Owens/Getty Images North America

The advent of gaming, especially computer gaming, marks a fundamental break in human affairs. Gaming is profoundly transforming two central aspects of the modern world: culture and regulation. There will be no turning back.

When it comes to culture, the West has been in a dialogue with itself for centuries, indeed millennia, stretching at least as far back as the Bible and the ancient Greeks. Literature, music, cinema and the visual arts provide a common body of knowledge that intellectual elites are expected to be conversant with. Knowing one part of that canon usually helps you master the other parts; Verdi drew upon Shakespeare, who influenced Orson Welles, and so on. Culture has never been about self-contained worlds. Quite the contrary.