Explore Your Inner Child Through Video Gaming

By Valerie Strange

There is no age limit when it comes to “play”.

We all need to seek release from day-to-day worries and stresses, to decompress, and connect with the childlike part of ourselves. For most adults, video gaming is not the first activity that comes to mind when it’s time to shift gears, but it can be an excellent opportunity to fantasize and step into another persona and reality for a few hours.

I know what you’re probably thinking, “No way! All those story-driven adventure games involve violence, blood, war, or beefy soldiers laden with bullet clips across their chests.” However, as a spiritual practitioner who is an avid video gamer, I can assure you there are viable options in the daunting virtual world of Call of Duty, Modern Warfare, and Zombie Bashing. My pick is Journey The Game, and I hope that a quick look at this online adventure land will entice you to explore this fast-growing arena as a way to work with and express your inner child.

Exploring the Interactive World

Video gaming has become a huge part of the world’s culture, no longer aimed at just kids, but also to adults, with 46 percent of gamers now being females. Unlike a movie or TV show where you are just an observer, in video gaming you are an engaged, active participant. For the spiritual person who is not into shooting, slashing, and bashing, Journey The Game has appeared in the video game world. It was developed by ThatGameCompany, and is a Playstation 3 exclusive release offered as a download and played in real-time on the Playstation Network.

The gorgeous graphics are hand-drawn, and the environments seem to have a life of their own, undulating and sparkling sands, wind swirling playfully around. There is no aggression, no battling, only a sense of peace and joy. It can’t even be called a “game”—it is an experience.

It is a journey through a world to a goal, but the journey itself is an emotional one. You start as a cloaked figure in a vast desert world, sitting in a meditative position. There is no dialogue, no instructions, just beautiful music. In the distance is a large mountain, with a beam of light shining down into its center. It’s your obvious goal. And so you begin your journey.

The sense of isolation is immediate as you pan around and see nothing but a vast desert and dunes. You travel through the sand dunes, trudging up them, sliding down them, coming across ruins nearly buried within the drifting sands that in themselves offer no solace, no answers. You wander around exploring, but always towards the mountain and the light. And then suddenly another cloaked figure appears! You hurry over. Who is this person? Actually, it’s another player somewhere else in the world in real-time on a Playstation! However, you can only communicate through chime-like musical tones.
Bing, bong! Hey there! He or she responds joyfully, bing, bing, bing! You are not alone anymore. You have no idea who this person is, if it is a male or a female. There is no identifying information as in other multiplayer games. It doesn’t matter. You are both heading for the mountain and the light, fluttering up over dunes, soaring together in joyful playfulness.

My partner led me, called out to me when I lost track of him/her—bing, bong—follow me! Here I am! This person seemed to have played the game before and guided me to the various artifacts/symbols that you need to collect that add to a long, flowing scarf that you are wearing. The longer the scarf, the further and higher you can fly. Merging with your partner from time to time also gives you more strength. Floating throughout the environment are glyphs and glyph-covered flags swirling nearby that also enable you to float higher.

After playing together, the hour became quite late. I had no idea who this other person was, what time zone he or she was in, but it was after midnight for me and I had to stop playing. How was I to convey this using only musical tones? As we stepped through into another area, I stopped. The other person went ahead of me, then realized I wasn’t following and called out to me. I didn’t answer. He/she came back to me. Bing? What is wrong? All I could think of to do was to move to the other person and merge our images, like a hug. Then I stepped back and turned away. He/she stood there, then turned and walked off, stopping once to look back at me. Then the figure continued out into the desert alone. I felt such a sense of sadness at saying goodbye to my friend, hoping that avatar would find another person soon to continue the journey with. We had made the journey together in cooperation, compassion, and generosity.

As in life, a player may travel with you for a time and then take a different path. Others will travel with you for the entire journey.

I won’t tell any more about this remarkable game because it would spoil your experience if you choose to take the journey yourself. My purpose is to prompt you to explore the exciting new developments in video gaming, which can help expand your spiritual awareness, connect with others worldwide that share similar values, and understand why so many people are attracted to interactive entertainment. Imagination creates reality, and experiences that touch your spirit can sometimes be found in the most unexpected places. Happy travels!

Valerie Strange is an avid video gamer and an outspoken advocate for the ESRB rating system of video games that gives parents a view towards the rating of violence in the video gaming industry. She currently works part-time as a Speech Recognition Editor of medical reports. Email Valerie at: vastrange@hotmail.com.

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