Busting game myths

As it turns out, blowing into a video game doesn’t make it better.

If you grew up in the 80s or 90s chances are better than average that, at some point in your youth, you blew into a video game cartridge to “make it work.” It was a time-honored tradition that, if Super Mario didn’t work the first time you put it in, taking it out and blowing into it would surely fix the problem.

Well, bad news folks, it turns out we were all full of a lot of hot air. Blowing into video games never achieved anything other than, perhaps, a placebo effect. What really tended to “fix” a cartridge that was messing up was the simple act of taking it out and putting it back in again. This is particularly true for Nintendo, whose connector issues are well documented all the way into the Nintendo 64 era.

In fact, and “just blow in it,” purists won’t want to hear this, it likely does more harm than good considering you are exposing the inner workings of the game to moisture.

Myths, rumors and urban legends are human nature. Since the first civilizations looked up to the sky and saw shapes in the stars, humanity has told tales that were less-than-true. So it only makes sense that these pastime has not only continue, but perhaps intensified in the digital age.

There’s no way to list every debunked techno-myth is this column, but I would like to go over a few of the more persistent ones, starting with perhaps the most persistent: no, posting a disclaimer on your Facebook/Instagram/Twitter et al will not keep said company from using your photos.

When you signed up for social media you agreed to their “terms of use,” you know, that huge block of text that appears before you can use literally anything digital. No one reads those, but if you did, you’d know that while, in most cases, you still technically own your photos, those sites can use them in a variety of ways whether you repost that meme or not.

Back when cellphone first rose to prominence so did the popular myth that they would cause various kinds of brain cancer. While this particular urban legend seems to have dwindled over years as cellphones have become more ubiquitous, you still catch the occasional whiff of it.

Rest assured, scientists have now done exhaustive, decade-long studies that have turned up no evidence of cancer caused by cellphones. Now windmills, well, the jury is still out on that one. Oh, and while we’re at it no, using your cellphone at the gas pumps won’t cause an explosion. That one has also been thoroughly debunked.

A coworker recently asked me to weigh in on cookies, the computer kind not the cookie monster kind. Her question was basically “cookies: good or bad?” I’ve admittedly never heard this one before but apparently in some technologically wary circles cookies are right up there with facial recognition software when it comes to privacy invasions.

Cookies, for the unfamiliar, are relatively benign, plain text documents that enter your computer whenever you access a website. Like driftwood washing onshore during the tide, the cookies remain there until you remove them. But they aren’t harmful, in fact they are useful if you visit a lot of the same websites over and over again as they make it easier for you to access said sites faster. And unless your browser has a major security flaw they won’t be able to access anything on your computer.

Finally, another video game myth to bring us full circle: there is no evidence that video games, particularly violent video games, alter children’s behavior. Politicians, particularly in the U.S. have long targeted media as a scape goat for violent or immoral behavior. From Dungeons and Dragons, to Rock and Roll, and now video games, popular forms of entertainment have often been burdened with the blame for crimes.

To set the record straight, while there are some negative side effect of playing video games too much, little evidence has been found to connect games with violent or criminal behavior. Like all things they are perfectly fine in moderation and in fact have been linked to mental health boosts and increased hand to eye coordination and problem-solving skills.

Like I said before, these are just of few of the more common techno-myths, trust me, there are plenty of others out there. The best thing you can do when you come across information that seems less than reliable is get a second, third and fourth opinion.

Recommended for you