October 29th, 2019


Why play video games? : rediscovering a sense of wonder

Originally written for a members-only blog that's having an ongoing discussion on the role of video games in modern culture.

view of field through spaceship window

Recently I spent a weekend driving through the fields and mountains and forests of east-central PA. Well, I was a passenger, which is the only reason we made it out and back safely, as I was transfixed by the natural beauty surrounding us. And sure, I usually stare out the window on long drives, but this was different. I noticed changes in texture and subtleties of color in a way that was completely new to me, like some part of my brain had been switched on that I hadn’t realized even existed. By the end of the trip I was nearly drunk on it, and not even the mundanities of returning to suburban life could fully obscure the experience.

Can’t say whether I’ll ever get to relive that intensity of awareness, but I know exactly why it happened in the first place: video games.

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Someone recently accused me of preferring “synthetic living over really living” because I play video games. This is my rebuttal: I was living a synthetic life without realizing it, and video games reminded me that there’s a big and beautiful world out there and I want to make an effort to see more of it. Chesterton has a quote somewhere–and I don’t remember where to find it, annoyingly, but maybe one of you will know–about traveling around the world so that you can then come home and actually see it again. Or possibly for the first time. I feel like that’s what happened to me, only the particular world I traveled around first just happened to be comprised of pixels.

Beautiful, beautiful pixels.