When you look at people immersed in computer games, you get the feeling that they would readily jump into the computer and become the avatars that represent them in the game. Indeed, computer games answer all our questions. Some people even believe that in the future, we will live in a computer network and communicate with one another in a world that is completely virtual. But games have a purpose: to make us ask about reality and our place in it.
From a broader perspective, we can see that our “reality” is a game, as well. We buy, sell, win, and lose. If you tell a child what you do all day, he will tell you that you, too, play games.
For most people, today’s games are different from the ones their parents played. They no longer play ball or ride their bikes through the park. They play on their phones, alone or with other people online, or they watch others play.
There is a reason for this. We build reality according to our desires. As our desires have changed, our games have changed accordingly. As we have become more self-absorbed and narcissistic, our games have changed to reflect our self-centeredness.
Also, in many ways, children in today’s games feel like they are building their own world. This is far more satisfying than playing basketball, for example. If we, adults, felt like we were building an entire world to live in, much like kids do in Minecraft, for example, we would never come out of the game.
On the computer, on the playing field, or in life, we play to win. But thousands of years ago, the authors of the Midrash said (Kohelet Rabbah), “One does not leave the world with half one’s wishes in one’s hand, for one who has one hundred wants two hundred; one who has two hundred wants four hundred.”
The only way to win the game is to ask about its purpose. When we ask, it is as if we stop the game and demand to know why we’re playing in the first place. In life, too, we should stop and ask why we do what we do, why there are stars, air, Earth, people, why everything exists and why we live. When we ask these questions, it is like going back to our childhood when we asked ourselves these questions. When we ask, the questions themselves bring us answers, and answers are the only victory we need.
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