Archive for March, 2012

A REMINDER OF WHAT IT IS TO BE HUMAN – JOURNEY on the PS3

Posted in Game Tirades with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2012 by helenparker1212

It was Jesus who told us to love each other, right? “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another.” That was his big message I think. And likewise it was Bill and Ted who commanded that we “be excellent to each other.” A simple plan you’d think.

I think if I could touch the face of God, this is what it would feel like.

In the space of two hours, sitting in front of the PS3 playing a little £10 download game, I have just experienced what can only be described as a spiritual epiphany. Rarely has it ever been said (if in fact it has ever been said) that a computer game is capable of instigating a spiritual epiphany, but I just finished playing ‘Journey’ on the PS3, and it has reminded me of a question I had forgotten I was asking.

The little implacable question of what it is to be human.

Very simply, and disguising a level of ingenious complexity, this game takes the player on a journey through the entire gamut of human experience and emotion at a primitive level which speaks only and perfectly to the spiritual. Indeed, in this game there is no language, characters are able to communicate only in a form of whistling bird-song. immediately the alienation of language is removed. We become timeless and cultureless, creatures, rather than people, spirits rather than animals. The whistling is the language of Babel, communicating only feelings between you and your anonymous fellow traveller.

And travel we do, the entire game is about the journey. We travel from A to B to C. We discover knowledge. We revere a God head which imparts wisdom and salvation. We travel alone. We are overwhelmed with nervous joy at the discovery of a partner, another human presence equally lost and questing in the desolate expanse. We revel in the sheer joy of jumping and floating. We are terrorized by monsters and dark places. We suffer the devastation of loss when our partner disappears, ahead or behind. We feel guilt if we desert them, we feel shame if we are deserted. We continue alone and in fear, and we celebrate wildly when we are finally rejoined, because the journey is one that is meant to be made together. We are not supposed to travel through life alone. Our hearts hunger for each other, even as we strike out on our own, to find our own path. The sight of each other on the horizon literally makes us sing.

That a glimmer of an answer to life’s big question, what is the meaning of all this carnage, can be found in a two-hour long computer game for a tenner seems a little too good to be true right? But if you think about it, why the hell not? People say it’s in books like the Bible and Quran, all created by people. so why shouldn’t a computer game contain the same spiritual effervescence to awaken us from our faithless stupors?

The meaning of life rarely plagues us while we’re trying to pay the rent and lose weight and find love and educate ourselves and our young and help the environment and appease our parents and avoid ignominious or untimely deaths at the hands of others whilst simultaneously ignoring the catastrophic outrages of the rest of the far-flung world. What time do we have, in all this effluence of existence, to consider the bigger picture. Of what we are. What we mean. What we should and should not be.

In the darkest of moments when the whole awful weight of the meaning of life begins to come crashing down upon us, we generally do the only thing we can do in order to survive the apocalyptic truth that we are all of us dying and none of us are going to be mega-rich superstars or walk on the moon or enter into legend or time travel. What do we do to stave off the realisation that our entire lives are mere blips on an astronomic scale?

We ignore it.

We carry on.

We go to work, pay the rent, kiss the boys and count the calories down until health and old age finally consume and destroy us.

But every now and then we are offered a glimmer. A spark, which illuminates for a fraction of a second the greater something, in which we tiny people are revealed to be the diamond solid cogs which turn the God machine of planet Earth. And one of those glimmers, is in this game.

I shit you not.

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