Playing god.

The cold wind blows harshly into your face as you stand atop the hill. You gaze upon the horizon and see visions of your past and future and heave a heavy sigh as you start to move forward again. The sounds of your own footsteps echos in your heart, and is abruptly interrupted by a voice from beyond the sky, tinted orange-red by the setting sun.
“Where are you going?”
“Mom, I’m going… to save the world.

Try making a list of games that you play as a sidekick.

Then make a list of games you play as a main character, a savior, a man on a mission; a man who wields destiny and fate in his hands.

The second list is easily longer than the first.

So what’s up with playing as the main character? In games, it is very common to play as “The-guy-that-saves-the-world”.Perhaps we often fantasize about saving the world, saving our friends and family and in the process of doing so looking extremely gorgeous and/or sexy. A very common stereotype of gamers is one that is socially inapt, overweight and holds more achievements and hours played than the number of hairs on your head. See the difference here? Well, these fantasies are commonly thought of as an ego boosts for “such people”. Some social communities say that because a lot of these “gamers” are unappreciated or were bullied in life, so they need something to boost their self-esteem to a healthy level. These virtual fantasies does a real good job for doing that, sadly.

Off topic: Are our real lives so demeaning that we have to retreat to virtual reality, a second world to “recover” from the damages? I play games too, and in those instances, I felt that the entire world is cut off – all I have to worry about is winning the game. Simple. A lot of self-esteem movements have been started in schools, as the society believes that teenage drug abuse, suicide, promiscuity and several others are caused by a lack of self-esteem. I do believe gaming is a lesser evil compared to all these if it can healthily boost one’s self-esteem. For a moment, the chemistry in your brain corrects itself, it attempts to re-balance the hormonal levels set off-scale by whatever that has happened in real life. Perhaps they might even learn some rudimentary social skills which society claims they lack.  And yet, upon returning to real life, you feel lousy again – so why not retreat into your safe haven?

Strange enough, if we look at the older forms of media, hardly has there ever been a case where the audience can take on such a role and allow himself/herself to identify themselves with the main character or even becoming a hero just by hitting “create a character”. It does indeed seem that with the coming of video games, people are becoming more and more capable of changing the world dramatically by donning the hero’s cape.  In many games, players serve as a messanic function. More often than not, fiction in the past consists of someone else other than you trying to save to world. Fiction today, asks of you to become the savior.

The issue here is the increasing numbers of instances where one can experience a god-like or at least messiah-like state in virtual reality – you become some sort of hero that rescues the world from an apocalyptic state. Everyone is The One – everyone demands it, so naturally the industries attempts to sate those voracious gamers. So, for all you gamers out there, here’s a question – how long have you been a hero? Perhaps ever since your first game, whether you were a general commanding your troops, a commando battling invading aliens or an arcane warlord fireballin’.

Today, the role of the player is to become an agent of deliverance; a contemporary idea with that of society. Instead of relying in God, humanity entrusts its fate to itself. This change is very intriguing and is an insight to our generation and is very likely to be in tandem with the many self-esteem movements around the world. 

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