In the past two years, I had a private Minecraft world I was working on, in Survival mode, manually digging stone, baking it, and forming the castle you see above. It was magnificent, and it is gone.
So it was that I had what alcoholics call a moment of clarity. In the middle of building, I was looking at all my towers and rooms, and wondered, what will become of this?
In the realest sense, I was building this as in investment to wow hypothetical viewers with the wonder that I did this all myself, that I took the time to strip-mine and bake each stone, kill each monster for experience, and pull each diamond from the deep. But what is the best I could hope for?
“Pretty cool, dude”
“Wow… you, uh… had a lot of time on your hands.”
“Haven’t you seen the Gondor castle? That was truly incredible.”
Or, nothing. So a thousand hours for a virtual castle is not worth time. Indeed, this year is three-quarters over, and yet as every feels as if it only begun. And I was playing Minecraft instead of wrapping up a comic I intended to have posted by Saturday.
Presently I decided that I could not continue to play Minecraft. I decided I could not even continue to play constructive games, like Cities: Skylines and others in my collection. There are many projects and goals I have, and I would rather put the hours into those real projects than in the card castles of virtual worlds, which even likewise have no guarantee of viral success than a vapid Minecraft project.
In Seattle each year, our magnificent Asian population comes out in unity to witness the cherry blossoms in the University of Washington. Both the cultural and aesthetic statement of the event is wonderful. I had asked my previous Chinese girlfriend what the significance of it was, and she explained: “It’s hard to explain. But, there is special beauty in the ephemeral, and so we love the cherry blossoms.”
As I am too aware an addict to pull a cold turkey on videogames, I think I can afford myself the restriction to only play ephemeral. If I’m going to play a videogame, I don’t want to trick myself that it’s productive. I should rather end my time with the knowledge that I am taking pleasure from a thing meant to die when the postgame carnage stats close.
There are enough other projects that may die long before I do, that will last longer than my virtual cities. In the meantime, I’m grateful to have an audience here.
So if I may: enjoy your life, but don’t waste your life on pyrrhic accomplishments.
And game on