Why is Star Wars set in space?

Earlier today, I was thinking that Star Wars could just as easily be set in a medieval fantasy world. You have the peasant boy who gets caught up in the quest to become a magical knight, save the princess, overcome the evil emperor, etc. Basically everything in Star Wars is just fantasy.

So why set it in space?

Are all the spaceships and lasers and planets just a shallow aesthetic topping to give the ol’ Hero’s Journey some added flair? I combed over the story again in my mind, and something stood out to me. There was, in fact, one particular thing that couldn’t be translated to medieval times: the Death Star.

Star Destroyers can just be galleons, jedi can just be paladins, droids can just be dwarves, but the Death Star… what would the Death Star be?

The Death Star is just the Death Star. It is this transcendent, floating orb of utter destruction. The Death Star can’t exist in any other universe than in Star Wars. It can’t be in a medieval fantasy. The closest thing that would come to that would maybe some sort of floating or flying siege engine…? which would be cool. But it just wouldn’t the Death Star. But, it wouldn’t work in a generic science fiction world either. (I’m tempted to say Star Trek, but Star Trek has its own complicated things going on that I don’t have time to get into.) In that generic world, we are bound to what is sorta speculatively feasible. But the Death Star is proudly, righteously, planet-explodingly unfeasible. Why on earth would anyone ever want to build a Death Star? A weapon the size of a moon? It can only exist in a space fantasy, because it’s so strikingly impossible.

See, the Death Star’s purpose as an artificial moon is not just a technological one; it’s a mythological one. The Emperor wants to strike terror into the hearts of his subjects. He doesn’t want to just blow them up; he wants to blow them up from a kickass robo-planet he flies around the galaxy with. Likewise, Lucas’ purpose is not to make a story that is technologically feasible, but mythologically resonant.

But I feel that because of this, some people think Star Wars is just about mythology. But Star Wars is about technology.

It’s also about how technology isn’t good enough. In its day, the movie was revolutionary for portraying a technologically advanced intergalactic civilization that still suffered from severe decay and poverty–as opposed to some generic, shiny science fiction world where enlightened man has conquered all obstacles. Star Wars is about rust, sleaze, and space stations.

There’s this super important scene in the movie where Darth Vader chokes Admiral Motti for having a disturbing lack of faith. Admiral Motti sees the Death Star as purely mechanical, but Vader–and the Emperor–aren’t fools. They recognize the spiritual–the Force–but only as a means to more power. Technology and imperial conquest are merely the consequence of their spiritual position.

But what is the result? A failing society only held together by fear.

Our heroes have to learn the truth. When Luke is in the Death Star trench, he has to put aside the targeting computer which has been shown to be ineffective. The only thing left he can trust in is the Force. And this is the message of Star Wars: technology isn’t good enough. Technology is always failing us. You need the spiritual.

Darth Vader, then, can’t just be a cursed knight in a medieval suit of armor. His armor itself has to be his life support, the technology that has allowed him to carry on doing evil. And, at the end, when he has renounced power and the Emperor and the dark side for the sake of his son, he forsakes his armor, as well. He takes off the mask that kept him alive–and trapped–for so long, so that he can see his son face to face. That is the real, that is the spiritual. And more than that: it’s love. The Emperor is quite comfortable using his supernatural powers, but he doesn’t love a single thing.

Death Star –> Technology is corrupt / used by power hungry people / generally failing –> We as individuals / society need to be awakened to the spiritual –> Luke’s Heroic Journey  –> Anakin’s Heroic Journey –> Love

We see in Star Wars this wonderful harmonic chain of artifact to theme to aesthetic to story to character. All of its parts fit together so preciously well. From this conceptual pattern, all the rest descends naturally: of course it has to be lightsabers instead of just blasters or just swords, because a lightsaber is connected to both the future and the past, symbolic power and technological power. Of course it has to be droids, and space ships, and different planets, and so on and so forth. It’s not just fantasy, it’s not just science fiction. It is just the way it has to be. It’s Star Wars. And it’s great.

We are still left with some interesting questions:

I. How well do the sequels and prequels integrate the idea of ‘technology is not good enough’? Do they echo it at all?

II. I think there’s a possible lesson about post-commercial art here in the way that Star Wars (internally) fully disconnects itself from our pop culture while at the same time (externally) becoming one of the most powerful forces of it. This lends it a sort of internal purity while also being crazy profitable. Then again, you have Ewoks…

III. Star Wars falls just short of Christianity by leaving the supernatural as a mostly impersonal, mysterious power. How can we continue the narrative of the spiritual triumphant over technological while also representing the spiritual in the specific incarnation of Christ? What does Christian science fantasy look like? I’m predicting something akin to Mormonism. Mormons also happen to be super interested in science fiction… there’s something happening here.

Thoughts?

 

A New Dialog on Video Games by Caleb Joseph Warner

  1. Give an experience.
  2. Decision is something crafted along those lines. You have free will as a player, but only free will to choose from a set of crafted desires.
    • This is very much like real life.
    • This experience is defined as gameplay.
  3. Every video game is a distinct world from our own with its own set of rules. They are not bad copies or competitors with our world. They are one of the natural inventions that arise from our world.
  4. These natural inventions mimic the patterns of creation in this world. And with this nature, there comes a certain set of necessities that need to be satisfied which parade as unnecessary wants.
  5. Video games exist because of a longing and necessity to comprehend our place.
    • They are not escapist: they are revelatory. They are the mirror in which we look, only so that we can be prepared to take our eyes away and be satisfied, for the moment, that we know what we look like. They mirror ourselves back to us.
  6. They show us what is behind us and around us but, unfortunately, cannot show us the way the to future.
    • The future we will stumble into blindly.
  7. Video games may push us forward, but only as participants in our general movement through time. They cannot go ahead of us and bring something back to us. They can only show us where we stand.
    • We play video games, because we long to understand where we find ourselves in time.
  8. Video games are for showing us who we are and where we find ourselves. They are not prophets of the future and anyone that tries to see in the experience a prophet standing in the doorway who will usher us into the unseen realm of our future success (the human species is glorious! Look at what we are capable of!) will be sure to be disappointed. Video games reveal the exact opposite about us. We are capable of so little.
  9. The unseen realm for humans is the individual and his surroundings.
    • We are very like the Lady of Shallot who can only ever look through the world in a mirror. The mirror is her gateway into seeing the world. Without the mirror, she would either be forced to close her eyes or be lost in the unseen realm of her condition.
  10. We are cursed, cursed to never be able to see where we stand or what is behind us. The only way to see is to make use of the tools before us.
  11. There are natural tools given to us and also the ones we invent. A mirror has been invented, but  memory has been since the beginning.
    • Memory is a natural tool, but video games are invented.
  12. Video games and memory serve the same purpose, as faculties to place us.
  13. As inventions, video games mimic the workings of memory.
  14. Understanding where we are is not confined to a declaration of truth.
  15. The very longing for mirrors is revealed when we come away satisfied from a video game.
    • We come away satisfied and by this realize that we needed the experience.
      • This is not a catharsis of fear. Rather, we are satisfied by a video game when it shows us what to be afraid of. We are to be afraid of our curse in order to continue on.
  16. The most striking thing about all this is that the revelation of our need for understanding is a revelation of our condition.
    • We do not look in the mirror and say, “Oh! There is a field behind me—and there is Camelot.” It is when we look away from the mirror that we say, “Oh! We are cursed.”
    • We understand we are cursed because of the start contrast between seeing and unseeing.
  17. We cannot see, without a brave journey into experiences, whether it is a fabrication like a video game, or a trip back in time through imagining a memory.
  18. Our natural state is one of blindness and darkness.
  19. Something needs to pulls us out of (xviii) and elevate us, but the elevation out of (xviii) is only the knowledge that we are cursed in the first place.
  20. The thing we want to be saved from is the ignorance of our curse.
    • This is why it is not farfetched to say that we need the video game experience to bring us into wisdom.
      • Wisdom is to have sight where others are blind.
        • Wisdom is the house of mourning.
          • We mourn, because we are human.
            • Because we are human, we want to commune with others.
          • Once we have seen, the only thing we want to tell others is that we are all born blind.
        • Video games are to provide us with this sight.
      • Video games have the same formal, efficient, and final causes of memory.
    • Video games are a visionary phenomena, experienced by people, for the final purpose of revealing who we are and where we are.
  21. As beings who find their home in time, we have been given tools to interact with this home. There are only two tools, aside from the tools of the present (the senses): expectation and memory.
    • We use our imaginations for both, but any space we imagine for the future is a fiction.
      • Not that it doesn’t exist, but that it is wholly invented.
        • Not so with memory.
  22. Memory uses imagination to reorder our memory into a made place for us to XP as close to the actual events as we are able to muster.
    • Memory is a function that takes our stored past material, orders it, and turns it into an organized and separate entity called “remembrance”.
  23. Remembrance is an artifact formed by the process of memory which orders the past material into something understandable.
  24. (xxiii) is a place where go to in order to XP a re-attempt at our original XP of the past.
    • It is not a sequence of images.
      • This is only a metaphor to describe what is really going on, which is an internal revelatory experience.
        • It is the experience of going back.
      • This bring us into another world and another time through imagination.
  25. A video game is remembrance.

POCKET WORLDS X: ENDLESS FANTASY

The worlds of games are so small. Imagine how many we can fit in our space. And we have infinity to do it.

We were made for so much more than just this one world. There are so many beyond our reach–for now–but there are also very many under our finger tips. There’s so many pools in this forest, waiting to be dived into. And not just explored for the sake of the pilgrim’s hope, but ruled! We are pilgrim princes. We are not cultists meant to serve some strange suit’s vision, but princes under an all powerful king, given the power to rule by the one who holds all power.

I expressed earlier my hope for games to grow into a sort of liturgy, or, we might say, a mirror for princes; crafts in which we immerse ourselves in order to reflect upon ourselves and God to become wiser, to learn about the world and become good rulers of it. However, I also believe games to simply be mirrors of the world. As such, they could teach us to become better rulers of this world, but they also teach us how to become rulers of new worlds.

What if he came into the game and played with us, one day?

“Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in.”

Dibs on player two.

We cannot allow the industry of game making to continue on its way. They are just out to make idols, to profit off of fools hungry for something to sacrifice their time to. Christians need to step up and make! It is your duty. You are suppose to be a prince; act like it. Reject the rule of your free time by greedy fools.

Perhaps games can be not just a mirror of this world, but a mirror of the next one. Perhaps the pagans’ hope of some new and mighty game to come and establish a vision of a better world for them, sweet to taste, isn’t all that far off. The Game is false if it is suppose to replace Christ, or sanctification, or heaven. But if games can’t do that, could they maybe tell of a hope? A hope for a beautiful kingdom, where we all rule over beautiful kingdoms.

The thought of being a good ruler is also why I don’t like to indulge in wanton violence within game worlds. (I have friends who gladly murder children within video games.) It’s not that I think doing so will make me want to harm children in real life (although you should pause to think how virtual child murder cultivates you as a whole human). It’s more that I have been given dominion over these paper people. It is not just practice for dominion in the real world, it is dominion in of itself. And so I want to be good to them.

Will they ever be able to appreciate that?

“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!”

An Introduction to the New Dialog on Video Games by Caleb Joseph Warner

  1. Level of interest and desire to remain with a virtual reality is a means of determining how true a virtual reality is to the structure of the real world. The difference between a virtual reality and the actual reality is that the invisible structure is acknowledged by all who participate. We are left theorizing about the invisible structure of the actual world.
  2. No Man’s Sky: The diversity, formed by a mathematical seed, is ultimately nothing more than novelty. It is not enough to pull us into its vast world. The beauty is impressive, but not mysterious as to its source in the same way that beauty in this world pulls us in. Most players are left bored and the beauty of that world is not enough to keep people with it.
  3. In order to keep the interest of those playing it, a game requires a center and the narratives of decision that we have both the option and free will to take. This is a crafted narrative and it exists designed, because there is simply not enough interest in having no purpose. There can be plenty of narratives the player forms of their own accord, but they would not take their interest and they would not be fundamental to the world.
    • For example, the player could choose to have his narrative be the discovery of all Calium deposits in one galaxy and sell them to that one trader on the space station in Washing of the Water. Fun? Not! This would capture few people’s attention and it would be a virtual example of essence preceding existence. If we go with (i.), this means that the invisible structure of No Man’s Sky is simply not accurate to the actual invisible structure of reality.
  4. There must be a crafted narrative in which we are all participating. We did not choose what the end would be and we cannot choose it, but we find our greatest happiness and freedom in making our path and following the choices of our heart to get there.
  5. There is, in fact, a center to the universe, but that center may remain to be seen. Perhaps, it is invisible and it is a narrative that is accurate to the invisible structure of reality.
    • That is to say: a universal narrative, with which we engage through our free will, is an invisible reality we must participate with in order to find happiness. Those most prone to suicide or who stop playing the game (in a reversal of the analogy) have the least participation with this narrative. They are struggling to find the narrative, but cannot see it, or in some unfortunate lack of divinity (a desire and ability to exert your will) want to leave. They are maybe forced into an existential world, where essence does precede existence and they are trying to make their own way by forming their own narrative (all the Calium deposits! Woot!)
      • But it is for reasons like this that choosing your own narrative is really just not that fun. And if you are to write an existential treatise, you are kind of obligated to have a portion arguing against suicide.

POCKET WORLDS IX: GAME & LITURGY

A vision for a specific type of video game Christians could be creating. For a while I’ve been describing video games as a sort of experience that prepares your heart and trains your mind. Ideally, it expands your imagination with beauty and, through your participation of it, channels your worship of God.

Does that remind you of anything else?

I think Christians should create video games that are liturgical and catechetical in nature.

God’s gift to those with the inclinations of a pilgrim and the inclinations of a cult: joy through exploration and repetition, respectively. This is the power of a video game. We play them over and over again. Sometimes new adventures, sometimes the same old familiar arcs and myths. The same man in the cave with a sword, sending you off on your journey. The same professor with an encyclopedia, sending you off on your journey. The same stolen princess, sending you off on your journey.

If we repeat these imaginary quests over and over, why not repeat the Christian quest? It doesn’t have to involve fighting, but it could. Maybe you could go through Pilgrim’s Progress. Wouldn’t it be fun to stab Apollyon yourself? Or playing as the woman in the wilderness, trying to outrun the dragon. I feel like that could really stick some Scripture in your head, but, to be fair, it’d be a little weird. But guess what? The Bible is weird.

There is a desire to experiment and explore the bizarre within the human heart (or my heart, at least!) that I think is far from perverse–though it can easily become that. So maybe you don’t have to go on bizarre Christian fantasy adventures. Maybe a liturgy game would just take you into virtual cathedrals (cathedrals perhaps not architecturally possible in our world!) and you talk to virtual priests, who might ask truly piercing questions about your faith. Go visit the digital hermit and see if he has a new randomly generated mystic vision for you. Okay. That one is especially silly. Nevertheless: is it not good to possess the desire to rehearse oneself through forms of purity and remembrances of virtue, to bind up the heart and one’s inspiration to the good?

Feel free to list all of the ways this could go wrong, if it makes you feel better. I bet it would be really lame when someone first tried it. Maybe it’s already been tried. I bet it was lame. And even if it was done really well, made into an art form, then people would be tempted to use it as a substitute for actual Christian fellowship and accountability and physical worship. You could lose so much in so many ways. This is no substitute for actual love and service. This is just pageantry.

So what could be gained? Perhaps an image of eternity.

Forewarned by Jorge Luis Borges (VIII)

I hope that I have made it clear enough to you what is at stake. The lives of the masses are at stake. If the fundamental principles of video games do not change, people will die. The question is now, “How are we supposed to change these principles?”

As I said earlier, I wanted this to be a dialog. A conversation about the metaphysics of video games is very much a rebellious thing to do. We live in a time when AAA publishers are pumping out promises of bright futures to the masses. And we are the masses. And we do not want to be the masses. This is a sick world we live in: we are the masses and what can we do? The only option is to train our covetousness by a gorgeous desire we have forgotten. In order to change the fundamental principles on which video games rely, we must desire a more lasting balm to our sickness.

We cannot accept what Gamesradar has to say about the latest video game. The entire video game industry would like us to blindly accept its new offerings. This is is not fueled by money, but by the metaphysical dread of losing the ability to experience the new. What we need to do is forget any hope that video games can provide us this. We need to stop imagining that video games can offer us that which life is supposed to offer us. Video games are for something else—and we must decide what that is now. That is why we are speaking like this.

I don’t agree with most of what Warner says. We agree that dialog has to happen, but we do not agree on the first principles. He begins with thinking that video games are the mediators of our past. I think that they are extensions of our present. What do you think about his assessment? Whether you agree with him or not, consider this guiding principle: assuming what Warner assumes, is he right about video games?

Is his dogma coherent?

Is Warner ever at any point coherent?

Ask yourself this—and you will be richly rewarded. Equal, equal to the fees of an editor.

I personally think that Warner suffers from a kind of Christian Neoplatonism that sees the only paradigm as the visible and the invisible. The only real knowledge for Warner is memory (anamnesis, people! My niece’s name is Anna). I can almost see the very point where Warner could say we must remember a past life, as Plato teaches. We see this in his terrible novel, Spring, where the main character forgets his past life, only to be saved by remembering it. What drivel–and I don’t know why Warner doesn’t just own it and self-identify as a Christina Neoplatonist.

But for all of my disagreement with Warner, I do admire his optimism. This is a hopeless time for video games. Warner steps into a landscape of the dead. This is a time when dialogs on video games do not even happen. The current paradigm is commentistic (this is an important, new word so I am highlighting it in bold). It depends on the existence of a mass of people who comment, but do not write treatises. You can see this most clearly when you go to Gamesradar. On Gamesradar, the puppets of the video game industry, those hired to praise and sustain the very games they are meant to critique speak their pontifications about video games and soften their blow only when the flaws are clear to infants. Every video game review you have ever read is a marching order to GameStop. They are the marching orders to the masses, to you. You are demanded to play a video game, because someone somewhere is afraid of dying. And you have very little say in how that video game is acclaimed. As long as it has new features, we are all pretty satisfied, aren’t we? The only place we get to voice our opinions and to sow the seeds of a new dialog is in the comments section under reviews. They are usually hidden and have to be revealed. They are small and cramped. It is a mob of players, subjugated.

Warner wants to take the comments section and make it the review. He wants to take the review and turn it into a treatise.

Jorge Luis Borges

Moscow, Idaho

2016

POCKET WORLDS VIII: IMAGE & ART

I will create. And how I create will always be bound to how I was shaped and how I was filled as a child with the wonder of newly made realms. I am bound to the reality of this beauty, but I am also propelled by it.

The neanderthal conception of video games as just bleeps and bloops is a wilful rebellion from the complex truth, that video games have the potential for incredibly beautiful experiences. And also soul destruction.

Magic is the imagination at work; unable to grasp the complete and utterly perfect shape of God’s plan for creation, man invents magic. No magical world could possibly work; all the fun rules a fantasist invents would ultimately make a world crumble in on itself. Unsustainable. Illogical. Only God can create worlds, because only he has the perfect Word, the perfect system. And yet… here we are, creating unreal, imperfect worlds. And it’s a wonderful thing. Likewise, responding weirdly to natural revelation, men for a very long time have been confusing God for the sun, or for the lightning, or anything, or everything. And then making stories out of their folly.

God, I believe, uses our inability to grasp him and his intentions (his life, his word) as a way to create even more beauty. Beauty is the balance of order and chaos, of balance and imbalance. Magic, fantasy, myths represent the imbalance being redeemed, put into that transcendent order where it can be wed to the actual perfect truth. God’s logic gently fosters our illogic by putting it in the most appropriate place (our heads). Christians have the ability to experience and take part in both sides of this beauty; to preach the actual truth of God, and to invent more and more fictions. Why?

Because we aren’t going to worship them.

(At least, Protestants won’t.)

Veneration of the saints & angels, as I understand it, (not only in the veneration of physical icons but also conceptual veneration through hagiography) is a farce. They treat creations like they should treat God; and they insist that fictions be truth already. They need to admit that it is just paper and paint. It’s just stories. And those aren’t bad things at all.

Paper, paint, and stories are useful tools in the construction of new worlds and new beings.

Beauty is impossible without reverence, and we live in a culture without reverence. Our churches and liturgies need more reverence. Evangelicalism has grown disgustingly irreverent. The solution is to pursue forms that are more beautiful. However, we must not fall into the classic trap of folk liturgicalism: reverence for the reverence itself. This is a kind of ethereal masturbation, ever collapsing into itself. We don’t need to have reverence for church forms, just respect, because some of them might be worthwhile. Even better than worthwhile: they might please God! We need to express reverence for God in the utmost; therefore, we should use those forms which we respect, forms and channels best suited to convey our reverence (in feeling and in action) to God.

Well, veneration and reverence are loaded terms; so let us use honor for now. In any case, the market does not see honor as important enough to invest in. I hope the past fifty years of american history is a strong enough testament to that. With that in mind, Christians need to be making games that are honorable and beautiful in rejection of the industry’s pursuit of titillation. I will continue to the bang the drum, all about town: culture cannot be separated from the cult. If we are Christians, than our participation in game playing or game making should neither obsessive nor passive be.

I refuse to respect neon lights, slide shows, industrial decor, and khakis. There is nothing honorable about it. And until we acknowledge that reverence and honor have a place in the discussion, things are going to keep being gross. Why do you like being gross? Perhaps it is because you are rebellious and do not acknowledge that there is an objective beauty, and that even as our fallen reason cannot fully grasp this beauty, there are still many who are older and wiser than you. And they have better taste than you.

It’s okay. I’m gross too. I grew up with those slide shows and khakis, and maybe it undid all the good those Japanese games did to my heart. Years and years of training my brain to think with slide shows and khakis. Why not just drink sponsored grape soda at communion and get it over with?

These are aesthetic / ecclesiological thoughts from someone who has lived for .01% of the church’s existence. I say all of this because I am trying to advocate for beauty. It’s not a particularly new position; lots of people have been smashing the beauty gong these days. “Hey! Be more beautiful!” Whatever.

I say all of this because I want to talk about the creation of video games, and you can’t talk about creation without talking about art and beauty, and you can’t talk about art and beauty without talking about how you worship God. So forgive me for trampling on histories I hardly understand.

The point is that we can’t let statues take the place of us as icons, or let pocket worlds take the place of the one we already have. But I think God still appreciates artful sculpture. And maybe even microcosmic architecture.

Forewarned by Jorge Luis Borges (VII)

We can see this claustrophobia very clearly in current events. We can sense the impending sense of dread, the slow movement of all the heads taking their eyes away from the screen. The masses are waking up and they are afraid. They are afraid to find that every video game is going to be like every last video game, despite the fact that each video game ought to exist in its own world and defined by the horizon of its own internal law-structure. At some point, every video game is going to be a mishmash of every past innovation and novelty in an effort to at least offer the features which the masses have come to expect. But each video game will have to at least offer the past innovations in addition to a new one. It doesn’t even matter what it is. Allow the players to give their characters teeth for hair and toes for noses—it doesn’t matter. It could be anything, just as long as it is novel. But when a video game is delayed, when the masses are not allowed to move through time as they are accustomed, they send death threats. They threaten to end the lives of those who profess to be the gatekeepers of their future. This was most recently seen in the case of No Man’s Sky. The game was promised as the mediator between the masses and the future. It had all the new information!

And it turned out that it only had a little bit of new information. Perhaps that cold husk offered the last dregs of novelty available to video game publishers.

Drink it up.

I very much look dread that E3 conference when everyone simultaneously in the auditorium realizes that the new, exciting adventure of Assassin’s Creed 11 is not actually Assassin’s Creed 11, but is in fact made up of the gear of Halo Destiny, the self-generating universe of No Man’s Sky, the “boundless paths” of Fable II, the lifestyle features of Sims 5, the workshops of Fallout 4, the multiplayer of Call of Duty, and the important ideas of Bioshock Infinite. And everyone will look around and the presenter on stage will be speaking in a very excited voice, “This is never-before-seen” and the entire crowd will jump onstage and tear him to shreds, because that presenter represented to them the end of their momentum into the future. And it was paved with the carcasses of all the emptied video game experiences.

You must know, at this point, that to reject the central dogma of video games is to also reject the notion that video games can bring us into the future. Video games can no more mediate our way into the future as they can predict who will be alive in the next ten years.

Video games can offer nothing new.

POCKET WORLDS VII: PAIDEIA & CHILDLIKE IMAGINATION

Now, as adult men and women, are responsibility is not just to ourselves as individuals, but how we will raise our children. As I have said before, video games have great potential for education and motivation. They draw players into a world with new rules and new experiences that are not possible within our known space and time.

Childhood is an age completely free of actual responsibility. No one goes shelterless when a child doesn’t mow the lawn. No one goes hungry if the laundry isn’t folded–unless that is the punishment for not doing chores! The only responsibility we give to children is to ready them for actual responsibility in the future. It’s theatre for the sake of cultivation and it’s very, very important.

Video games, then, are not just theatre for the sake of cultivation but also creation. Video games do not just shape the mind according to a set of principles, they also fill the heart with story, song, and image. These are the means by which the imagination is formed and empowered. A child’s experiences develop the capacity of a heart to create; video games allow them to have experiences not only far removed from their feet as they gestate safely in the suburbs, but also impossible to experience according to the very bones and boundaries of our universe. And it is because of this that I say that I am blessed to have grown up with video games.

My parents were firm and yet generous. If left to my own electronic devices, I would have only ever played games as a child, endlessly exploring colorful worlds that bizarre and beautiful Japanese minds had created for me. And so I was always restricted in how much I could play before being turned to reading and running and the other very important forms of play to which a child applies himself.

By some miracle–I don’t know if this was the taste of my parents or my older brothers influencing my life, or some innate primordial sense of taste, or an entirely external decree of God pushing me towards the beautiful–but I grew up playing some of the most incredible, vivid, and beautiful games ever created. I dare not advertise them. How could I do them justice in writing? Ask me some time to show them to you, and maybe I’d be able to transmute to you something close to the truth, something close to that deep power.

They came across the sea, and somehow they came to me.

What did that do to my imagination? Instead of shaping it and filling it with violence, apathy, and lust–as I’m sure some games could have done–I attribute to these games no small part in instilling in me a sense of wonder, sweetness, and appreciation of the good. I had worlds in my pocket!

Now all of this is nothing if it is divorced from Christ and from a loving home. I had both of these things to be built upon.

But I had worlds in my pocket! I rejoice to have been given such a gift. I was born too late to explore the world, born to early to explore the universe, but I was born just in time to have worlds to explore right beneath my fingers.

How can I ever express my gratitude?

Forewarned by Jorge Luis Borges (VI)

Recall that the player has the same idea about passing the time as that of the masses. The part is defined by the whole in this case. The masses think that to “pass the time” is to “move through time.” When we move, it necessitates that we are going from one point to another. When we go from one point to another, we must leave one point and go to another point. When we go to another point, we are going to a new point. You can see where this is going. In order to have a new point, there has to be a new place to go. In order to have a new place to go, there has to be new information. Let us define “new” as that which has never been perceived. All of this is to say that in order to move through time, there must be new information. If there was no new information, then we could not move through time.

And insofar as we can define moving through time as going from one point to a new point, we have no doubt. We do, however, doubt that video games are made for us to pass the time. This is the central dogma—and let it be dark before our eyes.

There may be an objection here that “passing the time” is not equivalent to “moving through time.” Borges agrees. Passing the time, allegedly that thing that video games allow us to do, is simply a mimic of that movement we experience through time. It is an attempt to recreate that movement we as bodies cannot help but perform. All bodies, whether living or nonliving, are under the force of movement through time. I am sure you can agree with this, even if you would like to add your own qualifications. Let it be so.

In order to recreate this movement through time, however, there needs to be a constant source and wellspring of new information. Here is an important qualification: God is not above time, injecting it with new information at all times to keep the wheels going. Note that when I say “new information is required to move through time,” all I mean is that it is new information with respect to the body moving. There is no new information to God, there is only to him expanded information. The creation of the Lord is no static thing: it is a perfect structure that encourages those within it to constantly expound on that information provided. God does not expect us to surprise him with new information; he expects us to surprise him with what we do with the established information. There is so much expansion available to us with the foundations he has laid that new information is never even a thing we should like him to add. What we need is mediators that will allow us to expound and comprehend all the information. We require support in this capacity, because we by our very nature are moving from new thing to new thing. There is no old information that we can move back to—unless you are Warner. This is, perhaps, the core of Warner’s dogma. And if he were to have explained it in these terms, in the terms I have just given, maybe I would not have been such a harsh critic. Maybe I would not have felt the need to make my own theory. Remember, my theory is that video games are extensions of the present and not mediators of the past.