Dumbing down ‘The Road’

Regarding the June 25 article “Finally, ‘The Last of Us’ is here“: How could anyone compare a simple-minded video game to the literary genius of Cormac McCarthy and his Pulitzer Prize winning novel “The Road”?

The article suggests that “The Last of Us” is one of this year’s most anticipated video-game titles. Anticipated by whom? This game reportedly is crawling with murderous post-apocalyptic zombies. Sounds like a Black Friday shopping melee at any discount store in America the day after Thanksgiving.

Some critics have called “The Road” the most important environmental book ever written — better than “Silent Spring” or the classic “Walden.” Believe me, if global warming is every bit as bad as most climatologists think it is, many of us soon will be hitting “the road.” And now we learn that one of McCarthy’s most important novels has inspired a violent video game?

Apocalyptic threat has been reduced to a video game, solely for childish amusement. I was wondering, have there been any other video games inspired by great authors? I want to add them to my collection. I once dreamed of teaching literature. Now all I wanna do is sit in front of a television screen with my Sony Playstation 3.

“The Last of Us” sounds very much like life back in Missouri — hillbilly zombies everywhere, doped out of their minds on methamphetamine and other street drugs. Gotta get this game.

Just a thought, but maybe this video game will inspire some high school-age players to actually sit down and read McCarthy’s soul- shattering novel. Nah, who am I kidding? The 21st century has little or no room for dusty printed matter like books, especially important works of fiction. There’s no end to the dumbing down.

robert mckinney
otaru, hokkaido

The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.

  • An Sha

    I applaud your desire to see more people reading more books. But let’s not forget that the majority of books are not exactly great literature. Have you read a popular novel written in the last twenty years? Mostly just trash. I think your blanket dismissal of video games is prejudiced and ignorant, though. You say maybe high-school kids will be inspired to sit down and read a book, but have you ever sat down and played one of the many video games aimed at adults, with a mature and thoughtful story? The recent Walking Dead game comes to mind. Just because games are interactive and feature some action doesn’t mean the writing has to be shallow. It reminds me of people who say animation is only for kids even though there is no difference between the potential of animation to tell a story and a movie or theater production.

  • Masa Chekov

    It’s anticipated by a lot of people. I am not young at all, and like so many my age I grew up with games as a part of my life. Now games have become increasingly cinematic and can tell very rich stories.

    I still read a lot of books and find time to play games. This is true for most people my age that I know.

    The comment in the original article about this game being the video game version of “The Road” (which I’ve read, incidentally – it’s certainly not explicitly an environmental tale as the apocalyptic scenario in the book is not specified) – this I believe is referring to the concept of a older person an younger person making a journey in a post-apocalyptic world, not that this game is in any way an adaptation of the novel. I’ve yet to play it but by the reviews it’s supposed to be a very deep, emotional experience, and it’s universally praised.

    Mr McKinney can take that as he wishes, but for the vast majority of adults under the age of 50 games are a part of the entertainment experience (along with books) and are not at all childish. I would challenge him to take an honest look at the more artistically inclined games out there (such as, for example, Shadow of the Colossus or even the Bioshock series) and then say that these are childish experiences. It’s simply not the case.