Society seemingly benefits us all, but certainly benefits some of us more than others. The only way to ensure this structure perpetuates is through control, and society controls us in ways that are both overt and covert.
Rules, laws - these are obvious. But then society exerts its influence on us in ways that are more subtle, insidious, covert.
We're told about doing things for "The good of our society" (or country...). Well, whose society is it? We're never handed a choice to opt out... though given that society is everywhere, where would we go anyway? Society gives us roads, gives us electricity, gives us television, and Sainsburys and Star Wars and a justice system. If you want all that, you have to be a part of it.
Alas, society is also hugely, intrinsically, unfair, and has been manipulated to primarily benefit a tiny elite - and from birth we are brainwashed into going along with this conspiracy.
"Grow up" we're told from a very young age. And so, grow up we do, in the belief that it's the right thing to do, and that one day - if we're very grown up - we too might be able to spend most of our lives on a yacht in the Caribbean.
Frankly, it's rubbish. So thank Bushnell for video games.
Humans aren't designed to work the way that they do. Physically, we're hunter-gatherers - not farmers, nor desk jockeys, nor homework machines.
We're meant to be wandering around the tundra for a few hours every day, picking berries off the floor. Then it's back to the cave, where we get to arse around, eat our fruit, and do rudies.
You don't see monkeys complaining of bad backs, and that's because monkeys haven't been crowbarred into doing things that they're not meant to do. Monkeys just eat and play, and that's what we're supposed to be doing with the physical form we were given.
Monkeys don't get stressed or depressed; monkeys don't have to deal with mortgage brokers, the taxman, or wait in for a tumble dryer delivery.
A 2011 report in The Journal of Play stated: "Anthropologists and other observers have regularly reported that children in (hunter-gatherer) cultures play and explore freely, essentially from dawn to dusk, every day - even in their teen years - and by doing so they acquire the skills and attitudes required for successful adulthood."
What the hell is successful adulthood anyway? Not drowning in a little river? Not accidentally eating one of your own poos in front of your bank manager? Not getting a tattoo of the Nando's logo on your forehead?
Whatever it might be, the free time available to kids for play is being squeezed; schoolwork, social media, chores... and as they play less, so there is an increase in anxiety and depression among children and adolescents. Society is wholly unnatural.
According to the report, over the last 50 years, young people - while being wealthier, and less constricted by prejudices relating to gender, sexual orientation and race - feel that their destiny is less in their hands, that they have a greater external locus of control.
Why? One argument is that values have shifted from becoming more intrinsic to extrinsic - material wealth becoming more valuable than, say, family values or just being a nice person. Our goals now become about achieving success in the eyes of society, perhaps trying to offset that feeling of not being in control of our lives; if we can become part of the elite, we'll finally be whole.
The things that society values - achievement, rather than personal qualities - have also led to a rise in narcissism, according to the report; an increased focus on the self, rather than the needs of others.
Which might suggest it would pull against the demands of society... but no: work hard to achieve personal success, and you're playing directly into the hands of what they - what society - wants. Work work, money money, tax tax, yacht.
In short, Play is something that ceases to be important as we get older - because Wozniak forbid we disappoint those voices in our head: those guys are a-holes.
Do you remember in school when you'd do a funny dance, and someone would say "You're so immature" as if being immature and doing a funny dance was the worst thing in the world?
Or when they'd tell you sneeringly to "Grow up" as if growing up was something to aspire to?
That was society telling you that; you're more valuable to society the sooner you can be slotted into the engine. Stop your playing and start your earning, kids! Society looks down upon anyone over the age of 14, who builds a cardboard fort, or does a funny dance... unless they're Ricky Gervais and earning millions by once having done a funny dance.
Have you heard of Kidzania? It's simultaneously brilliant and horrifying - like something George Orwell would've dreamed up. There's one in London's Westfield shopping centre, and others around the world; mini cities, where kids aged 4-14 can role-play at being grown-ups.
They can get pretend jobs in burger bars, work as air stewards, bus drivers, couriers, or air conditioning technicians - and they get to earn Kidzania money, which can be spent in Kidzania shops. It's society in miniature, and - while also being really cool - it's brainwashing, and this is why everyone is stressed and depressed, because we're all trying to live up to our conditioning, which pulls against our instincts, and causes us to grow up too fast.
We've all got the emotional bends, but it is what it is; best of luck trying to dismantle that.
In an evolutionary sense, this is why play is important; in children it's an important developmental tool - and in adults... now it's just something we've become too embarrassed to do.
PLAY BY THE RULES
In 2011, Pacific Standard spoke to psychologist Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, director of Temple University’s Infant and Child Laboratory. She said: "Play matters, no matter how old you are. The only thing that’s changed is the stigma. We associate play with childhood, and therefore playing with childishness.
"The less we’re in situations where we feel it’s OK to fail, the more likely we are to stop playing. And when we do play, it’s more like 'play by the rules': We’re more likely to play tennis or football or soccer than we are to sit down and simply play in an unstructured manner. But it’s not even that our hobbies have changed. The structure of daily life is so busy that we’ve drummed out a lot of space for natural play.
"Think about the world we live in. You’re supposed to answer your emails within 30 seconds, or you’re considered negligent. If somebody asks 'How are you?', the appropriate answer is 'busy'. Is that really an appropriate answer? No."
And I wonder if this is why video games are where they're at, why they're more popular than ever; because they have become a form of play that is socially acceptable.
For the most part, we play games alone, or at opposite ends of a broadband tube, and nobody can see what we're doing. It's play without consequences, without the risk of social humiliation, or failure.
It scratches that itch - or some of that itch - which never entirely goes away; that we'd rather be doing something else other than working, than earning money. Something that makes us happy for the sake of being happy, rather than simply feeling fulfilled, that we've bowed down to the external values that have been imposed on us. That we've ticked off another chunk of what's expected by society.
Ideally, play wouldn't happen on screens; it would be a social activity, one spent outdoors, keeping us healthy in both mind and body. Unfortunately, it doesn't look as if it's going to happen any time soon that the government is going to reverse hundreds of centuries of social order, and let us all go and fanny around in fields all day.
And until that happens, for many of us, games are where it's at; I think they're the fannying around in fields that society deems acceptable. Which is profoundly depressing, but there you go.
GAMES JOURNALISM: WHAT'S THE ALTERNATIVE? by Mr Biffo
GAMES: WE'RE WASTING OUR TIME by Mr Biffo
EVERYBODY'S CHANGED THEIR MIND by Mr Biffo
Greetings, dicks. Society isn't a thing I know very much about I'm afraid, though my good friend, Reverend Hugh Troube - all his parishioners call him 'Father YouTube', I don't know why - usually has opinions on most matters. His number is +44 7700 900562 if you wanted to give him a call. I know he'll thank you from the bottom of his heart.