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Rage against the machines

Modern video games mean big business, and big controversy. Yet most of the charges levelled against games—that they stunt minds and spark addiction—are based on an outdated understanding of what gamers do when they sit down to play
Tom Chatfield  

Confessions

It's probably fun to get high in Holland if you can then go and look at the Van Goghs. But a stoned trip to the swimming pool with my son definitely wasn't a good idea
Kate Saunders  

France profonde

Village festivals are increasingly important in rural France. They bring tourists and money, but they also restore pride to small towns which have lost so much else
Tim King  

Poker’s face-off

In recent years, small poker clubs have sprung up across the country, providing ideal venues for amateurs to hone their skills. But with the big casinos against them and their legal status uncertain, the card rooms' future looks far from…
David Flusfeder  

Modern manners

Holidays are about becoming enchanted by short-term habits. Noises don't annoy us, and even bus timetables seem fascinating. But then we return, and the spell is broken
Lesley Chamberlain  

Inefficient markets

Close scrutiny of the supercasino applications reveals that the mooted benefits of job creation and regeneration may not be quite so clear as they seem
Michael Prest  

Speculations

Why have we not encountered intelligent extraterrestrial life? We used to assume that the aliens had blown themselves up. But perhaps they just got addicted to computer games
Geoffrey Miller  

Melody makers

Despite routine claims of decline, music in Britain is thriving. Bands, groups and choirs of all kinds are flourishing, and new digital technologies have opened up the world of music to a generation of bedroom-based producer-players. But can our schools…
Nick Crowe  

Beach party

Beaches are giant blank spaces, washed clean every day, on to which all sorts of hopes are projected. But they do not transcend politics?in fact, they represent a third way between market and state
Charles Leadbeater  

To still boldly go

Manned spaceflight must not be stopped by the Columbia tragedy. It is good for science, business, culture and international politics
Ian Crawford  

Computer fictions

Despite their visual splendour, most computer games are characterised by violent, mechanistic pleasures rather than plot and character development. But gaming is still in its infancy. Artificial intelligence and online team-play may be triggering fictional forms that we can only…
Julian Stallabrass