Whilst reading Sue Vincent’s blog post yesterday ‘An optimist on wings’ (https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/3193846/posts/1377409994) on butterflies and optimism, wherein she spoke many truths and mentioned that – like myself – she played Solitaire at some stage , I was reminded that as adults we still play games for various reasons. I am not talking about emotional or mind games here, I am talking about games, real games which you play for fun, to escape or to keep your wits and mind awake.
In the early mornings after the sun has woken me halfway, I sometimes lie in bed playing solitaire until fully awake. Sometimes I win millions and other times lose it all again, but not a cent of it is real money – no stress is involved, it is just a game. In-between winning and losing I feed my wild blackbirds who appear as by magic outside my door
as soon as I make a move in the morning, then I open my ‘tame inside birds’ cage, clean and feed them, put the coffee on and my daily chores start. I have about seven to twelve bird species who come to me for sustenance daily and as we are experiencing a severe drought I feed them all. They use the bird bath on the deck and entertain my cage birds who communicate with them all the time. Fork-tailed drongos, cape robins, doves, fiscal shrikes, bul-buls, mouse-birds, cape white eyes, finches, weavers, starlings, sparrows and others. Even the striped field mice who shyly come to pick up the food dropped by the birds. I feel that I owe it to these little creatures as there is not much for them to eat in nature at the moment. I love doing it.
Another free game, more time consuming but totally amazing and awesome, is the online Myst. This one I have not played in a long time but fond memories pull me back now and then.
This game has its own people, the D’ni. Colourful and interesting with the story of their history/ages/times, it is fascinating. It draws you in so deeply that it is easy to start playing and a few hours later realise that you actually have stuff to do when the phone rings or something rips you from this alternate world. Yet, it is virtual reality not reality.
You can choose to play this game solo or ask help from other players in the online community which is how I met a very friendly Italian, thousands of kilometres away who became my online guide and ‘virtual bf’. We lost track of each other over the years and I am not clever enough to advance on my own in the game so now I just run and jump and appreciate the beauty. There are so many things to explore.
In my first book, Visions of Blue, my main protagonist plays Myst (MOUL) to escape from her dreary existence. She goes places, meets people and does things which she can only dream of in real life. Is that a crime? Certain holier than thou people are quick to condemn you when you seek solace in games but really, you hurt nobody and it is after all your life, not theirs. If it makes you feel good I say go for it.
There are many war simulations and fighting games out there, none of which never appealed to me. I like the adventurous, beautiful and relaxing kind of game. The games which are visually appealing with beautiful natural settings, which teach you things or skills – whether to improve your hand/eye coordination, work out puzzles or be daring and adventurous. Those which broaden your horizons.
The SIMS2 game also has its appeal – since I have found out how to cheat and create tons of money. Contact me if you don’t know how. I love building mansions. It is not about playing the game, but my creative streak can run free as I create luxurious homes with indoor swimming pools and tropical gardens.
Some of us have dreary lives, some of us are extremely lonely, been hurt too much to look for new company, some of us are bound to wheelchairs, hospital beds or even housebound by severe phobias, who are we to judge others in their escape to a world where you can be anyone, do anything, be pretty, rich, young, fit (in Myst you run and jump a lot and I must admit to many dreams from a young age where I jumped really high over any obstacle to the amazement of bystanders). You create an avatar, an online persona who can be exactly what you want. How awesome is that. You just have to keep reminding yourself that the online world is not real, neither are the people. All the world is a stage where we play different roles.
The only catch in some free games is that they draw you in and then ask for your real life money to purchase ‘game enhancements’ of some shape or form which you do if you are competitive. Now this is something which makes the hair on my neck stand up in anger. I have witnessed poor people, people who live in subsidised housing or trailer parks, people who get assistance from Social grants, who claim to be too poor to even look after their sick or dying pets – purchase online game items with precious real money. That, I feel is a grave sin. A sin against the real, warm, breathing individuals who are under your care. People will go online to feed and clean virtual fish tanks, raise and care for virtual pets diligently while letting their real, live pets suffer. Totally not acceptable. If you can’t look after real pets, don’t get them. Stick to ones who live in cyber space.
Bottom line – play games if you want, as much as you want, enjoy living other lives but never ever let games cause harm or neglect to your real responsibilities. That is the only rule.