Tuesday, February 01, 2005


Adventure Gaming

Wendy wrote in A Wise Man... "It’s all the same part of me playing God and wanting to control people’s actions. I can’t. I am not God…"

The truth is that even God doesn't play god. Anyone who's determined that they know the way is free to walk their path without help. There's no way for anyone to walk for them because attempts to do so, while they keep the other out of trouble, also undermine their ability to make future decisions. Shepherding people so they don't make mistakes is a very reliable way to make them dependent.

I'm not sure how this is supposed to work. God is revealing it to me as I walk, and there's no walkthrough for me to read on this particular game.

I've been playing "Uru: Ages Beyond Myst" for the last couple of months. I was determined when I started that I wouldn't stoop to using a walkthrough to cheat my way through the puzzles.

Walkthroughs are written by others who have played the game, and they write up a log. All the puzzle solutions are in there, what steps to take and when. No thinking necessary. Just follow directions.

Games, like life, have a certain kind of logic. It varies from game to game. I never got into computer games until a friend gave me "Myst" several years ago. The game had been popular for years, but I, with my usual assumption that anything popular can't be good, ignored it. Now it dropped into my lap so I gave it a whirl. The first time it didn't take.

Then I remembered "The Manhole" and "Cosmic Osmo," two gamelike worlds Cyan made for children. Adults, particularly this one, liked the fact that they didn't have to shoot or twitch their way through. Cyan made the world and hid secrets in it, and the player simply explored by looking around and figuring out how to go on. You couldn't go to the next section until you put the clues together and opened the door, or turned on the power, or played the tune.

I liked them because they were like books, except that now I was inside the book. I tried "Myst" again and this time it connected. I happily spent several afternoons wandering around, being driven crazy and then having the "Aha!" experience of finally figuring out the puzzle. I was sad when it was over, but then I discovered the next part of the story.

This was called "Riven," and it came on five CDs. I really got lost in there. It was beautiful, interesting, fascinating, and the puzzles were something else. Subtle clues, little things. It took time to figure out. Again, I was sad when it ended.

So I went looking for more on the Web. I discovered something called a "walkthrough," and I read the ones for "Myst" and "Riven" just out of curiosity. I missed a few details, I learned.

Then there was a long dry spell. Games like "Riven" just don't hatch like eggs. They take time. Finally, "Myst 3" came out and I bought a package that included a walkthrough book. That was a good thing because one of the devices in the game didn't work right and I finally had to use the book to figure out what to do.

Then a friend gave me "Zork Nemesis," which was a different kind of game. I got lost and had to use a walkthrough.

The choice is between staying stuck, or moving on. A walkthrough will get me unstuck, but at a cost. It makes the decisions, it rules the logic, and the game's own logic is lost in that process. Playing these games is a learning process: you have to learn how the game's writer works, what's behind the puzzles. "Myst" and "Riven" had one kind of logic that fitted well with how I think, but the "Zork" games have always had an irrational streak that threw me off the track.

When "Alida" came out last year, I picked up a copy. It was more like "Riven" than the others, but its logic was slippery. These puzzles were designed not to be solved easily. The writer did things that would be logical if you were trying to fool people, but not logical in a game that people are supposed to figure out. Yes, I had to use a walkthrough to break through one of the puzzles because its solution never occurred to me.

"Uru" has really kicked me around. Most of that was due to the way I played: go here and there, look at things, move on in a hurry to the next wonderful thing. After a while I was so confused there was no getting back into step, and once again I had to resort to a walkthrough.

Life doesn't come with a walkthrough book, but we do have someone better. The Holy Spirit will help me find answers and interpret them. The decision about what to do with what he teaches me is mine to make. To do anything else would be to make me less than what he wants.

So Wendy sees her friend doing something she knows is stupid. She might have been there before, or she just sees much more clearly because she's watching from outside. She can see the cliff coming up as her friend drives forward and her love makes her want to grab the wheel, take away the decision and force him back onto the "right" road. That abrogates our rights and derails life's logic, making the next decision even harder to figure out. Once you are on the walkthrough path it's hard to get off.

I'm learning it first-hand. Not so much from walkthrough as simply avoiding decisions I don't like and deliberately simplifying life until there isn't much left of it. I'm having to learn to make my own decisions instead of letting time make up my mind for me. The outworking is the same: I get lost, confused and angry. And it's hard to turn to God for help when he's the one causing the problem.


Love the way you put this... even God doesn't play god. It's true!

Interesting your note: "Not so much from walkthrough as simply avoiding decisions I don't like and deliberately simplifying life until there isn't much left of it. I'm having to learn to make my own decisions instead of letting time make up my mind for me."

This actually is my friend... and it grieves me so much maybe because I see myself in those decisions too.. When we get hurt or face loss of hope... we like to simplify life to make it smaller less complicated... less chances to be disappointed. When in reality if we look at it... we have choosen to die in a way.. maybe it's just in one area... or with one decision or maybe with many! I love this verse Isaiah 50:7. "The Lord God will help me. Therefore, shall I not be confounded. Therefore, have I set my face like a flint and I know that I shall not be ashamed.

Is God causing the problem? Would we feel lost Larry if we were trusting Him as we should be? He helps us... we will not be put to shame... He has a plan for us... Larry... to give us a future and a hope Jere 29:11!

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