Playing Games with the Sandbox

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“Those who fear the games often compare them to television.  Game players almost never make this analogy.  When they try to describe the games in terms of other things, the comparison is more likely to be with sports, sex, or meditation.  Television is something you watch.  Video games are something you do, something you do to your head, a world that you enter, and, to a certain extent, they are something you ‘become’.”  – Video Games and Computer Holding power, Turkle

When we embark upon a journey into the world of a video game or any game for that matter Turkle is right in saying that these games are something that we “become”.  We live in them for a time as we explore the world and rules of play associated with our game of choice.  As we live there we begin to close ourselves off from the possibilities of other worlds.  This can happen slowly or quickly depending on the intensity of our engagement, individual agency, and awareness of the possibilities outside of the game but even the most mild exploration means that at least a few of the 86400 seconds allotted to you in a given day will be spent in that world.  There is nothing wrong with this in fact it is the nature of deciding to do something or make a commitment that you will have to give up the chance to do something else.  Full engagement in the game of the moment is perhaps even necessary but it is important to in some way remain aware to the influence of factors beyond your games set of rules and be willing to engage with those uncomfortable moments when your games rule book seems to be torn up.

’You caught the glass before it hit the floor.  You teleported it back into your hand.’
‘Look, buster,’ she said grimly, ‘quit kidding yourself.  They’re watching all the time.  They play little tricks like that.  Anything for a laugh.’
She rose, laughing at him, but there was a strangeness in her laughing.
‘You don’t give yourself a chance,’ he told her.  ‘You are so horribly afraid of being laughed at.  You’ve got to be a wise guy.’
‘Thanks for the drink’ she said.
‘But, Maxine—‘
‘Come up and see me sometime.’
‘Maxine!  Wait!’
But she was gone.
-Immigrant, Simak

You can choose to ignore these moments of discomfort.  You can choose to disengage and retreat quickly to a place of comfort but if you’re ever interested in advancing to the next game or perhaps beginning to understand the larger set of rules that govern the next level of play our readings from this semester seem to indicate that you need to revel in those uncomfortable moments.  You need to stare that discomfort in the face.

“See it for what it is-as one picks up a strange object from one’s back yard and gazes directly at it” – The loss of the Creature, Percy

You need to do your best to soak up as much information as your limited senses can gather while it lasts.

“There was no describing it, no way to describe it—you felt as well as saw it.  It was a part of you and a part of the universe and a part of everything you’d ever known or dreamed.  It seemed to thrust extensions out into un-guessed time and space and it had a sense of life and the touch of comfort and the feel of home.  Yet, when he looked again, he sensed a simplicity that did not square with his first impressions.” – Immigrant, Simak

The moments of discomfort will pass.  They need to in order for you to recover and during those periods of recovery you may find yourself realizing that the world in which you thought you lived has a new twist on it now.  You have actually become aware of a new game at a new level with a new but eerily similar set of rules.

“And what does it take to advance along the evolutionary road beyond the high tide of my own race of Earth? Not mere intelligence alone, for that is not enough” – Immigrant, Simak

Isolated intelligence is a waste.  The OED defines the word Intelligence as “The faculty of understanding” which is only useful if coupled with drive, motivation, eagerness, curiosity, passion, or some similar faculty that encourages the individual to apply their intelligence to the confusing and contradictory signs that continuously surround us all.  It is the application of intelligence in your current world that might let you uncover something.

“I may have the answer—the answer that you’re awaiting back on Earth.  But I can’t tell it to you.  It’s something that can’t be told.  It’s a thing that each one must find out for himself.  And the pity of it is that Earth is not really equipped to find it out.  It is not a lesson that is often taught on Earth” – Immigrant, Simak

Perhaps Bishop is right and self-exploration of both the internal and external nature will never result in the evolutionary leaps we can’t even dream of until we are willing to lay down in our own backyards and explore with the passion and genuine curiosity of an infant until our exploration leads us to a clue about that next level we seem to be seeking.  At that point, if we can view that clue through truly new eyes as Walker Percy tries to explain we might, just might, be able to extract a bit of the real meaning from the experience and move a bit closer to a more holistic understand of that larger game we each play from start to finish in our own unique ways.

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