Wednesday, March 21, 2012

video games

In our dada world, of intellectual overload, video games provide refuge for the cave man, or the problem solver, or the visually leaning mind.  Video games simplify the world, and like the Futurama episode where life is like a video game, the terms are much less ambiguous.  Even though we've had existentialism for over a century, we're still just as clueless on how to make meaning--soon cookie cutter religions that dispense other's revelations grow dull as they are not authentically ours.  Video games (or drugs or sex or materialism or career or subjugation to others needs) fill the void.  And yet they can't fill the void for long if you tune into yourself, and feel more void at your void erasing attempts.  So many heroes and heroines in literature look for solutions in the wrong place, desperately, frantically.  There are so many wrong paths.

I've enjoyed Sim City, and Civilization and visual games like tetras or bejeweled.  I had a PS for a while and did a snowboarding game.  I've been disgusted by Vice City type games, where the player is a criminal who has to accomplish criminal missions.  I have a friend who was in the Marines who can play combat games all day, even though he's a successful professional in perhaps the top profession.

At the moment I'm addicted to Edgeworld and MyTown2.  It seems I like building worlds and conquering worlds.  I'm Robert Moses and Genghis Khan.  In a way, I feel puny in this vast universe.  (That makes me think of the Monty Python skit.)

Video games are another kind of thinking, that I enjoy.  It's not intellectual wool gathering.  In a way it's a do nothing activity.  Sure, it expends energy and time, and what are the results.  "I'm up to level 42."  Is that good?  And yet there's a sense of accomplishment, pride in effort. In the grey world of existential wilderness, do I move up levels, do I win the day, do I defeat my opponents?  It's this simplification, this black and whiting of life that helps ease the existential tension.

I think the good news of Buddhism is that, yes there is a void, but we can come to understand it, and through altruism and personal effort, master it in a very satisfying way.  We can develop the grace to tolerate ambivalence, ambiguity, confusion and dispair, without hankering for limited solutions.

The Galaxy Song Lyrics:

Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the 'Milky Way'.
Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It's a hundred thousand light years side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
But out by us, it's just three thousand light years wide.
We're thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
We go 'round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that's the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth. 

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