Once upon a time, a single video game sat alone on a store shelf. This lonely game wasn’t shiny like the others. It didn’t have any fancy graphics or eye-popping pictures on the box. It had no action, no blood, no violence and no aggression. The game did have layers of grey cobwebs and dust covering it.
Sometimes one could see droplets of liquid trickling down the game box, but this wasn’t someone’s attempt to clean it. The drops would trickle only in the middle of the night. Those nights in the store when feet fell silent, chatter ceased, security guards finished their last rounds and the clerk killed the lights.
Until one day when a little girl changed the story. She saw the lonely video game and heard it call to her, cleaned it off and bought it. The clerk and customers all laughed, but the little girl wasn’t going to ignore the game’s pain or let the laughter change her mind.
“Thank you for saving me from a life of endless consuming and being thrown away. I can’t wait to be free,” said the game. Then the box vanished into thin air. The little girl smiled even though she had lost the video game that called her.
“I have to tell you something crazy that happened to me today,” said Sarah.
“Alright,” said Zach.
What was Zach thinking? When we zoomed into his head, we saw a thick layer of fog that surrounded and obscured everything. Impressions were faint and clear thoughts were murky and illusive at best. Moving through the fog, after what felt like eons, we saw it dissipated and clear thinking was on the horizon. But first we had to wade through a cold and calm lake, with its musty cave smell, that served no purpose. The reason for the lifeless lake’s existence would only baffle us and get us annoyingly wet.
After overcoming these obstacles, we saw a wide and thick patchwork of grey cobwebs. They were so expertly sewn as to make forward-looking vision impossible for a brief time. That was discouraging.
But we pressed on and could heart the next part of Zach’s head before saw it. We heard metal clanking, suction tubes gurgling and steam hissing through pipes as it escaped into air. Next we saw sparks flying and gears grinding in circular motions. Near the end of this assembly line of contraptions, we could see stacks and stacks of unplayed video games.
Finally we saw electricity surged through a power line and zipped down a long coil. This raw power headed toward something. That something was a giant light bulb. The bulb lit up, and it seemed like everything was clear; perhaps something profound was about to happen.
“Huh?” said Zach.
We can’t change some things. They say death and taxes are certain. They say the early bird gets the worm. They say in life you can’t choose your neighbours. What if you could choose which video game characters were your neighbours?
I suppose I could use some sense of security in my neighbourhood. I find myself pale with fear when I consider the scary state of the of the world. To conquer this fear, I’ll build a massive fort replete with everything I need to protect myself. Then I’ll invite Master Chief to live next door to me and be my neighbourhood commander. He’ll keep me safe and his loyalty will make me feel as warm as a giant comforter. Of course, friendship is more important than security and super cyborgs, so I’d want friendly neighbours too.
Mario would make a great neighbour. He’s happy-go-lucky, has lots of nice friends and lots of great stories. Plus I could always use a good plumber in case a pipe explodes and my place floods. I’d like to have an inclusive neighbourhood, though, and that means I’d welcome the “good,” like Mario, and the “bad.”
They say to keep your friends close and your enemies even closer. Maybe, then, I’d invite Bowser to stay next door. He could cement alliances with other bad guys and keep them off my block for good.
I suppose I might have to turn Mario over to Bowser, but it would be a small price to pay for the security, right? No! What am I saying?
I think I got a bit carried away customizing my neighbours. Instead of playing this game, I’ll be grateful for the neighbours I have. I’ll love them no matter who they are.
Play Time the Video Game¹ and add more hours to your day. One hour playing gives you three more hours to live your life. You can do whatever you want with all that time. But what if you don’t like video games?
You might consider video games unappealing, but you’ll love what you gain from playing this game. While playing, you might, unlike a bad job, have some fun. You wouldn’t do the same dull, monotonous and thankless tasks all day. Unlike a boring job, you wouldn’t stare at the clock all day and long for free time. Instead, you would repeatedly tap A,B, and sometimes pause.
But, at some point, you need to stop playing and spend all that stored up time. You can only reap all the game’s benefits when you stop playing and do something else. You’ll be back for more.
¹ Not to be confused with Thyme the Video Game: The Ultimate Cookery Course.
Woe is me as I lay here crying, for I have started a video game I may not finish. Maybe I’m afraid of what will happen to me after I finish the game. Or, dare I say it, do I fear success in the game world? No, I’m sure I’m brave enough.
In truth, I must slay a mighty dragon, return a princess to her throne, return her crown that an awful thief absconded with and take out the garbage. That’s why I can’t play yet. When I’m done all that, then I can play my game and tend to my vegetable patch.
Sometimes I feel like all I can do is tend to my digital garden for a couple of minutes. I think the zucchini is ripe, and I’m excited to see it come back next year too. The tomatoes look even better than I could have imagined.
I’m not sure when this game is over. Maybe it’s after the land becomes barren and infertile. Maybe it’s after the soil seems parched, dry, crumbly under foot and returns to dust.
No matter when the game ends, I vow to keep my joy burning brightly in the face of dark days. I will finish this game even if it takes 1001 days.
Go home, video games!
Go back to the black bunker-like box you call a home.
Go spin around in there until you’re dizzy.
You’ve overstayed your welcome, and I need some “me time.”
Play the video game from beginning to end!
Experience all that the game has to offer.
Understand what the game is about, how one plays it and what the developers intended.
Judge the work. Tell me why it is a good game or a bad game. Be fair.
Why should I care about this video game and your review? Why is this game significant, if at all?
How do you review video games?