A Reflection on the Duality of Video Games & Life

Video games are both smooth and bumpy. One side of the disc is smooth, shiny and calm, like a tranquil lake on an early Saturday morning when the mist is settling over the water and no one is nearby. The disc also has faint lines going around part of it, resembling ripples on the surface of the lake. The machine is able to read and reflect on this side of the disc, and the metal box does this work quietly as if it were meditating near a calm lake. Then the machine can display something beautiful and creative for all to see and enjoy.

Sometimes playing this disc is a smooth experience, one without hardship that flows from beginning to end. The game doesn’t punish small mistakes during a smooth experience. The game doesn’t offer strange design choices that keeps gamers from playing until the end. Instead, the game lets you play, and encourages you to do so, without interruption.

We might also say that a gamer could be smooth. What do I mean by “smooth” gamer? I mean someone who sails through a game calmly without hitting any waves. Maybe he does see waves, but he knows how to avoid them. The smooth gamer’s actions are deliberate, well-thought-out and appear effortless, but not everyone acts in this way.

By contrast, there is a bumpy aspect to video games. One can feel this by picking up a video game disc and touching the side that has the game’s title and possibly other images. This bumpy side is like a rough path that is uneven to the touch rather than a tranquil lake.

The rough path is not inherently bad, for this side lets one know that one is holding a video game that a machine can run. However, some people will not see it as self-evident that the bumpy side faces up as the disc goes into the machine. You have to walk the path to understand, you have to put the game into the machine, or read or hear some instruction, to understand this is how you play a video game.

Once you play the game, you can sometimes expect a bumpy ride. You might get knocked off the path because of an increase in the game’s difficulty, just as you start to enjoy playing. You might get frustrated and lose your temper. Perhaps this angry person might throw a controller at some unfortunate bystander or some unfortunate peace lily.

Some of us might feel this anger and frustration in a more intense way than others. This person might be a gamer who cannot experience the bumpy side without exploding in rage. They are unpredictable and antipathy of the cool, smooth lake, the cool, smooth gamer.

Perhaps all gamers, all people have some degree of the cool, calm lake within them and the potential to lash out in anger. Although the path can be a little bumpy sometimes, one need not give in to aggression, to hate. Play like a smooth, calm lake, live like a smooth, calm lake.

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Filed under Video Game Misc., Video Game Technology

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