211/365 – Meditation Games #211 – The Impossible Mental Puzzle

Developer: That Tom Hall

Launcher Quote: “My dad, Garth Hall, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when he was 62.

His confusion and forgetting grew until he passed in his 87th year, just short of his birthday. It was ironically sad to take away his mind, as he was a brilliant man. A professional engineer with a Master’s Degree, he only stopped his pursuit of his PhD because my brother was born. Kind, gentle, smart, hilarious – we three kids won the lottery when it came to getting a great Dad.

On June 9th, 1980, Dad got the family an Apple II+ computer, changing forever my destiny.

So in the framework of one of my first games on that APple II+, WALK INTO THE DOT, I have you trying to get Dad to keep going forward, avoiding the miasma of confusion that kept growing in his mind. Help him keep his thoughts and ideas. If you can touch even one small bit of the way forward, you can progress. Fall short, you celebrate his life and his brilliant mind. “Win” and share in the sorrow of our 25-year goodbye.

Garth O. Hall

1927 – 2014″

One of the worst things that could happen amongst all the undesirable ways of having a loved one lose their life, is to watch them do it gradually, over the years, as a means of deconstructing everything that they are and want to be, in favor of being kept in a prison of their own mind. Alzheimer’s, one of the worst diseases to do this, is something that some suffer through – not just on the part of the patient but also those that surround them and love them. It’s a topic that struggles to depict with any kind of meaningful clarity what it’s like, but this sober Meditation Games entry comes pretty close to it if it doesn’t just hit the mark.

I’ve always been both impressed and emotionally affected by the games that tend to take normal game genres, like puzzling, and make them into poignant messages about a theme, a person, or an event that happened. We’re all familiar with the idea of passing a puzzle to get to the next level, to solve it with increasingly difficult challenges, but one of the ways that this particular game takes that and then forms it into a symbolic presentation of the increasing confusion of Alzheimer’s is pretty heavy hitting. Things start out just fine, but then begin to get increasingly difficult as the mental state of your dad, the person you’re trying to guide to the end, has more and more trouble trying to visualize where to go or even what to do.

The confusion we feel as we find the puzzle of solving what can sometimes seem impossible increase is a very heavy and stark depiction of what can happen as Alzheimer’s erodes the mind. And even when you actually get to the end, the victory is more of a pyrrhic one, one that has come at a great cost, and which doesn’t particularly have what you could call “happy”. This may seem depressing, but in many ways this is realistic and should be faced for what it is. It’s my hope one of these days that we find a way past this horrible disease which robs people of their mental faculties, but until then, we can only hope to understand, through games like this, what it must be like to be presented a puzzle in your mind that eventually becomes almost impossible to solve.

 

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