Grand Theft Auto: Jellystone -- Are Video Games Hijacking Nature?

Dennis Faas's picture

As if gaming didn't already receive enough bad press, now it appears geese have joined senators and right-wing conservatives in a torch-waving mob: ready to storm industry giants like Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo.

In a recent (and somewhat strange) study, an American professor reached the conclusion that video games were responsible for the decline in the attendance of U.S. national parks.

According to University of Illinois researcher and assistant professor Oliver Pergams, sedentary use of home entertainment is on the rise, and such a phenomenal increase is, well, somehow interesting when noting the opposite in national park attendance.

The study Pergams has launched began with statistics of park per capita attendance decline as early as 1987. In that year, Americans averaged some 1.2 trips a year to a national park, but by 2003, according to Pergams' evidence, the number of swell trips into the U.S. designated wilderness had dropped to 0.9 trips per annum. (Source:

Although Pergams outlines the role of other media technologies in nature's abuse, the title of the study only seems to pick a sole scapegoat: "Nintendo vs. Nature".

Thankfully, there is some admission -- and there must be, surely -- that video games are not the only media medium to blame. Pergams admits everything from the Internet to rising oil prices have had an effect on park attendance.

"This is no smoking gun," Pergams assures us. It is an almost laughable line considering the last decade of political and academic attacks on video games regarding violence. (Source:

In the end, it is one more criticism of video games for the sedentary lifestyle they have become associated with. Somewhere along the line, it seems, people became able to run marathons while watching movies, talking on cell phones, or eating a cheese pizza.

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