Clair McFarland: Video Games Are An Abomination

Clair McFarland writes: “All I want is for everyone to stop playing video games… True male bonding time should be going out into the hills and shooting a nice rabbit for dinner stew.”

Clair McFarland

February 10, 20244 min read

Clair new column shot
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

All I want is for everyone to stop playing video games.

The Wyoming Legislature gavels in next week – let’s make it a law. We’ll draft it so that no scheming 11-year-olds can find a loophole.

“No person, by the use of his fingers, toes or knees, shall operate any device to maneuver any avatar, blob or sprite upon a screen. Violators will clean the litterbox.”

I’m not sure who would carry the bill for me. The Republicans? The … other Republicans? The Democrats who are only there to spot the differences between the two sets of Republicans? The Libertarians hiding out in there, hoping no one realizes they’re not Republicans?

Or maybe they all could carry the bill. Make it bipartisan. Tripartisan. Polypartisan, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Either way, these video games must stop.

“But it’s male bonding time,” says The Husband, who taught the boys to play Super Mario Bros. when they were little and has been paying for it with various console upgrades ever since.

I frown.

“Noooo, this is Wyoming,” I say. “Male bonding time would be going out into those hills and shooting a nice rabbit for dinner stew.”

In walks Middleborn. “Hey Mom, can I have a video game turn?”

“No,” I say.

“But why not?”

“Because I said so.”

His eyes glaze over.

Because-I-said-so is circular reasoning. A thing is what it is because I say that’s what it is. I give no practical or ideological justification. I just crown myself and bark out my own reality.

“So, if I clean my room?”

“Please do clean your room,” I say.

“Then I can have a video game turn?”

“Uh, no.”

Middleborn scrunches his nose. “Well then why would I clean my room?”

I inhale an idle gust. “Because I SAID so.”

Middleborn walks back to his room, bamboozled.

Video games make everyone fussy. The boys clamor obsessively for their turns, willing to stoop to any indignity to win them except cleaning the litter box. Once they’re playing, they often go over their 40-minute time limits.


“Time’s up!” I call out when Firstborn’s turn ends.

“But I just gotta beat this guy – ” he protests.

“No, you must save.”

“I can’t save the game during a boss fight. The console will explode,” says Firstborn.

I look to the other boys for a fact-check. They all nod.

“Yes, please don’t save, we’ll all disintegrate,” says Middleborn, still nodding.

But soon the little, feisty twin realizes that if Firstborn doesn’t save and quit, he won’t have time for his own turn before bedtime.

“Bro, you gotta save,” says Little-Feisty.

“I’m gonna,” says Firstborn, who is not gonna.

“C’mon. NOW,” Little-Feisty counters. His face reddens. Webbed veins bulge on his temples. The fate of the virtual game-o-sphere hangs in the balance, like a loogey not detached.

But Firstborn can’t save his game and quit. The game owns him.

I walk over to hit the “off” button on the console.

“NO DON’T DO THAT!” bellows Firstborn. “OK, OK. I’ll save. I’m saving.” His hefty syllables burst out on hyperventilative blasts.

I scratch my head. “I thought you said the console would explode …”

“I guess that only happens on Tuesdays,” mutters Firstborn.

I also hate video games because they’re useless. They yield nothing of real value.

They’re cheap thrills that rob from us our awe of nature, our attention span, our urge to do great and terrifying things. We expend all our daring in a fake universe, and leave nothing for our own.

I picked up my phone to whine about this to my friend.

“Hang on one second,” she texted back. “I’m just about to beat this level.”

Clair McFarland can be reached at

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter