Play (3)

We love to play games. It’s fun, it’s engaging, and it’s awesome. Metaphorically speaking, it’s why our souls came here in the first place. Why are games fun though?

The right dose of skill and chance

At the heart of all games, no matter the complexity, lies a delicate balance between two opposing aspects. The coin flip is a great example because it is such a simple game, and a great starting point at that. The results are binary, yet despite its simplicity there isn’t much room to influence the outcome. The game excites some because of its chance-based nature, and yet it does not come to mind when one thinks of a fun game.

Why? This is because we love having a degree of control over the outcome of the games we play. We hate leaving our fates up to complete chance and having no say in our destiny, because we don’t do well at handling the unknown. Thus, we add in elements of control because it allows us a ‘legitimate’ means of cheating the game by by introducing our rules into the mix. And so we find ourselves capable of somewhat controlling the outcomes, enjoying the thrills of success because we can create great achievements despite what fate had in store. At this point you might ask yourself, what if we had a game that was completely under our control? Who wouldn’t want to play a game where wins are always guaranteed as long as you’re skillful enough?

The answer is no, because a game with such a fixed outcome would be dreadfully frustrating. On one hand, if we discipline ourselves to the point where we can play the game with absolute control of all outcomes, we would grow bored rather quickly. This is because having nothing but predictable outcomes would never matter since nothing would ever be at stake, and so the game degrades to the equivalent of a fixed process. Such a game would lack flavor because it kills all room for possibility outside of itself, or as gamers put it, a distinct lack of spice/RNG in the experience. On the other hand, failure to achieve the desired outcome despite the us being fully in control means that only we can take full responsibility for the disaster. No other factors could be at fault, for all the control rested on our shoulders, and thus any result short of perfection can only result in frustration. Either way, such a game where only control matters leaves no room for possibility, no room for spice, fun, or miracles, because all that matters is the outcome. When life becomes as such, it becomes a calculated gambit in a cold, indifferent universe where nothing except results matter, and anything short of perfection is an insult to existence. What a complete and utter drag.

A game reliant completely on chance would only frustrate us, and a game reliant completely on control would only bore us; one aspect can never truly exist without the other, lest the game loses its fun. We cannot help but fall in love with the possibilities and wackiness that the chance aspects of games can give; and yet we too love the process of devoting countless hours in perfecting said skills that are inherent in the control aspect of games we play. Not everyone has the same risk tolerance, nor does everyone have the same amount of willpower or time to pour into the perfection of a discipline. Thus, the variety of games that everyone may enjoy are as varied as there are people alive today.

Even God, too loves games

Consider being God for a second. Imagine yourself being omniscient and omnipotent, with complete control of all universes and all possibilities, past and future alike. It would be an utterly boring existence, because all of creation would be no better than a game that you have complete control over. Creativity becomes irrelevant, for you would be aware of all possibilities and permutations of all things. Fun becomes non-existent, for you would have indulged in all pleasures and satisfied all desires in all forms. Thrill becomes dread, for you who knows everything, nothing will ever be new. Existence became a drag, but even then you have the power to turn it on and off as you so choose. But it does not change the fact that you are still omnipotent and omniscient. Do you commit suicide and in doing so put an end everything once and for all?

And so you, God, find yourself in an insoluble conundrum.

You want to truly live, and yet there is no fun in doing so because you have absolute control over everything.

What if you erase the entirety of your memory and knowledge and started all over again? Now that makes the game fun again. But you’re still stuck with your awesome powers and abilities. What if you gave that up so that you can experience the depths and wonders of existence not as God, but as something temporary and finite? What if you split yourself up into infinite fragments, every piece of yourself becoming individual soul so you can have the fun of experiencing existence that you created in all shapes and forms at all times? Now that makes the game far more vivid. Now you can experience contrast in all of creation, feel the joys and lamentations of being alive, be awed by the sheer magnitude of your own creativity, and fall in love with existence once more.

And when you, God, reach the end of this game, you will certainly start all over again because it’s so much fun!

If nothing else, God plays at being you, at being “little old me” in this strange universe that we live in, enjoying every second of being alive, happy, hopeful, amused, thrilled, jealous, angry, and sad. Not to mention that you, God, would most definitely be having a blast with the beauty and frustrations that only the limitations of forms and contrast can offer. That would be the game that you play, which is nothing short of the best game ever.

To you, I say, thank you for being, I appreciate your existence. It’s a fun game, and I don’t see why we can’t turn up the dial even more!

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