There’ve been a few Meditation Games entries that have taken the outside/nature element to include in their games, sending a message that an epiphany of sorts is waiting for those that go out into the natural world and take in its wonder and beauty in order to gain that insight. But the 122nd entry in the series kind of turns this the opposite way, putting forth that sometimes it is something that is manmade that brings out that sense of insight and self-reflection about one’s nature.
This meditation games entry, to me, speaks for itself, and that’s probably not a surprising thing considering my close proximity to the games industry through all the work I’ve done it in for the past decade plus or so. While there’s a bit of comedic absurdity in presenting what at first seems to be a slapstick way of displaying a rough work environment and the literal consequence of working until your hands fall off, there’s also a bit of dark undercut as far as the mood and the presentation is concerned, and it surrounds two systemic issues in games that many studios struggle with today – that of a volatile, stressful work environment and the dangers of enforcing practices such as crunch in order to get games developed and out the window.
ometimes the value of creating something has much more benefit than on the surface. Making something is like being a god in a universe of your choosing. We have the ability to make something of nothing, put it where we want to, shape it how we want to have it shaped. We have complete and total autonomy over the thing that is formed and we bring it into being just as we have the ability to destroy it and start over.
A lot has been made of some of the previous entries in the Meditations Games series for putting things together, grabbing parts and combining them, trying to solve puzzles. This entry, however, puts things on its head by embracing the fact that while there are times for the puzzle to come together logically there are times when this is not the case, that we should embrace differences and the way that pieces don’t fit together, or even leave holes.
There was an interesting dual goal with this entry in the Meditation Games series, and it wasn’t as obvious from the launcher quote or the gameplay at first – but with good reason. The biggest of these reasons would be the fact that we’re conditioned to overcome obstacles in games or “win” the game at the end of the day. We see something we have to get past and we try to push through it. We see an objective (even an optional one) and we have to work our way through it. Even when we complete games, for some of us they aren’t really “complete” until we do every single thing there is to do in them, even if some of those things require a ton of extra effort and work.
There’s a reason that wind chimes are popular with people, whether when you’re an infant or young person or adult, or someone much older. There’s a sense of mellifluous charm about the sound and symphony of tubes bouncing off each other, creating seemingly random sounds and melodies, but yet never really sounding like a cacophony or disruption to one’s ears. The fact that to one’s own ear a set of chimes one minute can differ from another that comes out the next is just a part of that random, musical appeal.
After yesterday’s somewhat optimistic take on nature and life, today’s entry brings us to a sobering reality about some of the disaster that can befall that same life on a manmade scale, with a re-enactment of the Chernobyl disaster from the 1980’s. An equally bleak launcher quote accompanies this presentation, talking with stark realism about what happens when you are poisoned with radiation on a lethal scale, and minces no words in telling you what would happen.
Every so often we’re reminded of the fact that there are animals out there that do interesting things in nature that they see as perfectly normal but which we find fascinating in our study of them. For those that aren’t always in nature every day, and surrounded by more modernism and technology than we can shake a stick at, being shown or reminded of the fact that nature still has wonderful things to show us and to perhaps teach us is one of the best things that we can have put in the back of our minds.
I can see how the developer compares being on a bicycle to being on a chase, one that never quite ends but is part of the appeal of being on a bike in the first place. You’re exercising, but you’re also free, riding where you want to be and looking towards a distance that you can choose to have last as short or as long as you want it to be. Some people who enjoy biking tell me that it’s the combination of this travel and the act of pedaling your way that feels like you’re getting somewhere under your own power, whether that is literally or figuratively.
I enjoyed reading about the celebration and holiday mentioned in the launcher quote for today, which obviously made the game a lot more easier to enjoy and understand the message behind, but for this in particular, I had a particular appreciation because the celebration involves being joyful about prose, books, and knowledge. Knowledge, especially in these current times where things are vastly more turbulent and polarizing than before, is a valuable commodity, and there are few holidays or celebrations these days that have it as the central part of why we’re having the holiday or celebrating.