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timber maniac


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Which video game has challenged your perspective on the way you live your life and how?

The video game I credit is a role playing game called Final Fantasy 7.

The conflict of the game begins immediately. As you play the story unfolds and you learn of a corporation that is extracting 'Mako Energy' from the planet by means of giant reactors. This 'Mako Energy' is then converted into electricity that is used in the city surrounding the reactors. It is a lucrative business. As a player, you begin the game with your character being directly involved in a vigilante terrorist group; a group whose goal is to destroy these 'Mako Reactors'.
Though the character you play cares little for the goals of his group (your character's main interest is making money), you continue to be involved in these vigilante missions. As time progresses in the game (meaning you complete more story-line) your character learns that 'Mako Energy' is found in all of the creatures and plants that inhabit the game's world. When a life ends this 'Mako Energy' flows back into the planet. It is then recycled by the planet and used to create new life. You understand that the extraction of 'Mako Energy' will result in the disabling of the planet's ability to support new life, and it also means that the planet is itself a living thing (as a player you can visit a place in the game and hear the planet itself making painful noises). You learn that the corporation's president is aware of these facts and is yet still planning to progress with the extraction of 'Mako Energy'.

How did this challenge my perspective?

Growing up I had been exposed to many different ideas of accountability but only at the age of 12, with the help of this compelling story, did I seriously contemplate my role in society. I wondered what kind of character I was, and what kind of character I would like to be. The story made it clear that those who act from a source of greed were ostracized from a moral society. I decided that indifference towards suffering cannot be hidden and that greed will never be satisfied.


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    Jan 24 2012: Well for me the game that did the trick is a third person Role Playing Game called Diablo II. I absolutely loved my role in it as a mighty Paladin and spent endless days and maybe months playing the game. The basic principle of this is mouse clicking until you develop carpal tunnel syndrome or kill off all your demons. Nevertheless I somehow managed to finish it on all levels and acquire all sorts of weird, rare and powerful items that made me both happy and proud.

    How did this game challenge my perspective?

    Upon completion of all the wonderful tasks and acquisition of power, fame, admiration and virtual objects I came to the realisation that none of these mattered. Nothing that happens within a virtual world has or has had any impact on my real life. All the power concentrated in the game did not represent anything more than bits moving on my hard drive in the physical world. This was the game that taught me that spending a vast amount of your life in a virtual environment really contributes to disengaging you from what really matters. It showed to me what I should try to avoid becoming in the future and allowed me to concentrate on activities that cause me emotion within and about the real world and not a virtual fantasy world. I do not deny the necessity of gaming, but I do acknowledge its power to render you less human.
    • Jan 25 2012: I would respectfully ask that you consider your own comment on a grander scale than "a lesson learned in a videogame" and "a lesson learned from videogames." What I mean to say is that I wholly agree with you when you saying that accruing "power, fame, admiration, and [...] objects," is empty in and of itself and that there are indeed more interesting and fulfilling things in life, but that resolution need not only apply to actions in virtual worlds.

      Framing the argument differently, let's look at the way a designer would envision play in an open-ended sandbox type game. First, the mechanics of the world have to be defined (engine), then a context (story arc of some kind), and then somes personalization (leveling and avatar modifying). Without some kind of attachment to the game persona, the player would be unlikely to want to spend any time in an unguided, albeit maybe pretty, computer world. Investing your time leveling a character creates attachment. By adding personalization, developers facilitate a bond that will continue until it is worn out, usually by finishing the game in some kind of god-like state. If the road to perfection leaves you feeling empty, it could be because of a number of things. First, because perfection is not humanly attainable and so is irrelevant to you. Second, gathering trinkets and wealth does not actually lead to fulfillment. Third, the enjoyment was in the journey to the end-game, not in "ending." I can't think of any philosopher or theologian who could summarize life in such an impactful way.

      Videogames are a medium of entertainment, and that can involve engrossing, mind expanding stories and mechanics. Most of what you do in the real world has no meaning either. Nor does what I do. Finding things that stimulate growth is always the most important activity - following any other path will "render you less human." Maybe pick up another videogame?
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      Jan 25 2012: I also played hours of Diablo2 without gaining much insight or life experience. Your answer is not what I expected but it demonstrates valuable insight towards what we do with the time we spend and what we feel about how we are spending it.

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