I answered Mom’s question. No games for Lent. What finally made the difference was a series of articles by one of my longtime favorite game authors (from back when games had “authors”), Brian Moriarty. His recent presentation to the Video Games Developers Association meeting in San Francisco kinda sealed it for me.

It was a brilliant apology (in the old sense, meaning “defense”) of Roger Ebert’s assertion that video games can never be art. The defense goes in some truly surprising directions – touching on the definition of art, the difference between art and kitsch, the role of art in our progress as a species and our development as indiividuals, and finally – the problem with video games. The problem with video games, strictly speaking, is that games are about the perception of control, choices, goals, rewards, achievements – while art is fundamentally, about contemplation, awareness and surrender. The argument seems to be that they are actually opposites – games set us up – in either micro or macro realms – as an infinite iteration of will. Art is an enlightenment of our vision.

This is of course is my paraphrasing, and you can look him up for a more eloquent defense. It makes sense of my life, though – of how long and hard I have looked for the perfect game, always losing interest as I approach the end. This is consistent with my unconscious use of the game as a way of extending my control and my choice – almost parasitic in nature. Once the game- the “host” – is finished (i.e. dead), so is my ability to continue to persist in the illusion of my own control. The parallels to my real life are striking.

What, then, is the alternative? Are we left with the “Wargames” conclusion that the only way to win is not to play? Or, do we only “play” when it is not a game? The work of reprogramming is dark and long, but I believe when it is finally done we will find we have “created” a world which allows us to be “recreated” within it, a fitting accomplishment that may finally destroy the ring which we forged, release us from our long service to our own need for power and control, and allow us to finally percieve the grace and righteousness that allowed us to err, learn, and be forgiven.

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