Anyway, let's talk about gaming. Computer gaming, board gaming, card gaming, role-play gaming, etc. I've done them all and been addicted to one or more of them for quite some time. Whilst I have learned a great many things about myself and others playing them - I also learned that gaming as an end in itself is not a valuable use of my time.
Gaming is a useful sand-box, a contained space/time, in which to explore one's self. In particular I found that by playing a diverse range of characters of different races, genders, political outlooks, etc - I learned how to put myself as much as possible mentally in to someone else's shoes.
Another advantage is that it helps to build up the muscles of the imagination. Creating strange and unreal landscapes, peoples, and creatures has helped me to build and retain mental constructs for a time. As many writers have discovered, the characters that they imagine often take on a life of their own and as a role-player it can be fun to let one's character run wild for a time to see what and where to go.
Gaming also helps give a person a sense of achievement. Achieving goals and aspirations in a fictional setting such as the imagination, computer generated world, or within the dimensions of a board game. The danger here though is that many games, in particular multiplayer on-line games, hook people in to continuing to play long after it passes the point of not being healthy.
Last but not least I want to highlight that computer games have come a long way in terms of incorporating consequences of actions, often with a delay in the effects. This creates very engaging scenarios and story-lines.
Addiction. Money. Time. Social Isolation. Viewing the world as a game. Pursuing goals in an artificial reality that do not impact the physical world. Cheating.
Like most hobbies, gaming can be taken to an extreme and there does seem to be a hierarchy of "normal" amongst gamers. Last I checked the list went something like: computer gamers, cos-players, board gamers, card gamers, role-players, live-action role-players, furries, and furries who have sex in their costumes.
I will elaborate more in a future post about what I have learned from gaming in terms of magic... but here are a few ideas from various computer games:
- Planescape:Torment - tried to answer a questions I have had since becoming an adult "What can change the nature of man?" I went on to study Chassidut and Kabbalah to answer this very question about myself.
- Dragon Age - the Golden City in the Fade became the Black city when blood mages entered the city. As Sefer Yetzira states, there is nothing higher than Oneg (joy) and nothing lower than Nega (plague). The mages used blood (the vessel of Nefesh) to open a gate (231 letter gate?) and the result was the Taint (plague!).
- Bastion - This game is literally about Tikkun Olam, rectifying a broken world.
- Bioshock: Infinity: This game explores alternate time-lines and travel between them. It's interesting as my studies seem to indicate that it is possible to do this...
- Neverwinter Nights: It's relatively easy to build a golem in a computer game... In this generate world though it take a little bit more time and training....