--Virginia Heffernan, "The Burden of Interactivity," New York Times magazine, January 11, 2009
Write what you know, we often tell writing students, but that advice doesn't help much if you want to write from inside of a culture that is foreign to you. And why would you want to do that? Why would I, for example, someone who has made a small reputation as a poet and memoirist writing out of what she knows: the culture of place, specifically New Orleans and south Louisiana, want to learn the culture of video games? Why would I, someone deeply interested in nature and the environment, someone who has backpacked to Alaska and Ecuador, climbed glaciers and swum in Amazonian waters, someone who is director of a writing program inspired by Rachel Carson, want, at age 54, to spend hours and hours playing a video game in order to write about it?
Because in order to grow as a writer you have to challenge everything you think is certain. I watch my journalist husband expand his knowledge base every day in order to write with authority about news events. It's also exciting--and scary-- to take on new projects that are vastly different in scope from the ones you've been working on.
I do bring my love of nature and environment to the video game that I'm playing; I'm extremely sensitive to the landscape of the game as it appears on the screen, and thoughtful about how the development of virtual "places" in video games might have affected the large numbers of kids who grew up playing them, and how it's affecting me. I'm interested in how the choices you make in playing a game affect--or don't--the environment around you. In some games, for example, you can pollute the waters, cause global warming to occur, make animals go extinct, fish all the fish out of the ocean. In some cases the choices you make with respect to the virtual environment will cause your character or your character's culture to die.
Mother of a son diagnosed at one point with ADHD, I'm also interested in any intelligent research that connects attention deficit disorder, either positively or negatively, with the playing of video games. I'm also interested in communicating with a generation of boys and young men (like my son and step son) who have been immersed in these games for hours and hours on end. What are they doing? What are they thinking? Is it all about killing or is there something else?