“And when the hourglass has run out, the hourglass of temporality, when the noise of secular life has grown silent and its restless or ineffectual activism has come to an end, when everything around you is still, as it is in eternity, then eternity asks you and every individual in these millions and millions about only one thing: whether you have lived in despair or not.”― Soren Kierkegaard
I am a gamer. Many of you are like me but there is only one, me. My games are my best friends. They are my life. I master them as I disallow mastery of my life. I must play harder and shoot straighter than the enemy which is my soulless existence trying to kill me. I must win before I am won.
My game is me, as I am me, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weakness, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and expansions. I will keep my game polished and ready, even as I am nothing of the sort. We will become paradoxical of each other.
Does this seem strangely familiar? This is my version of a portion of the Rifleman’s Creed, recited in the Marine Corps. Do you see parallels between the codependence of a rifle and a videogame? Don’t get me wrong, I love games. Hell, I wrote a book about how games make me a better person. How they allow me to be smarter and more analytical in life and in politics. You see, not only am I a gamer, I have run for political office and currently hold an elected position of precinct officer within my state’s Democratic party.
I have found, in my travels as a combat medic in the U.S. Army (99-03), games were a core of who I was. They followed me everywhere. If I was bored, excited, drunk, they were there. Tired due to lack of sleep? Yeah, likely beer and games. My passion for games comes from a young age where I was taught that my opinion didn’t matter all that much. There were lessons taught through fists and verbal abuse. So, my Sega Master System and Genesis became my friends and of course, in that order.
Don’t get me wrong, I had friends I would hang out with and quite valued their fellowship. Though, nothing like a game saw me after hours upon hours of struggling. I fought day in and day out over challenging scenarios and even dreamed about how to defeat a level. The games also saw me when I raged on my worst days, at the excessive deaths and the reminder of my powerlessness. I looked to my games to give me solace from getting my nose rubbed in the garbage of life and here it is doing it to me, or hell, me doing it to myself by impatiently blitzing through levels that require calmer minds and purposeful actions to complete. This behavior leading to the reinforced idea that my incompetence is assured.
Games have always been a weird existential relationship for me where I bask in some seemingly great accomplishments and wallow in some of the worst lows. This was my escape. Extreme yo-yoing but digital. And yet, even through this, I learned a lot about pattern recognition in particular. If I am playing an RPG and show up to a new town, guess what I did? Yup, talked to every fool in town. In part because I likely got lost along the way but also because some paths are literally just hinted at by NPCs (non-player character). If you don’t talk to the right person you don’t hear about it. This taught me to talk to everyone in real life as in the game. The problem, I was shy AF as a kid. Like, sickeningly shy.
Remember how I had it reinforced to me that my opinion really doesn’t matter? Yeah, that. It created some of the worst social anxiety when around other people. I had a real hard time overcoming it and I am convinced that without games to help unburden my sorrows and challenge my mind, I would have lost even that little anchor to humanity and social connectedness. Even if I wasn’t cognizant of it, I was part of a community. Games were something I could talk about and feel safe when doing so, with others, where I may be too shy to share about myself.
There are so many opportunities for games to play productive roles in our lives. Pilots and Astronauts play them by way of simulators. Surgeons do so to keep their hand eye coordination up, as they are required to use finely tuned machines that are effectively just video games repurposed. Video games, allow us to see and talk about some of the grossest, goriest, scariest and just straight messed up stuff, and do so in a manner which is safe; kind of like comedy.
Studies upon studies have been done regarding violence of video games to see if it makes people more violent in real life. Pretty much no effect. Yet we allow stupid people who pander to rich stupid people who pay the original stupid people to tell us that ‘video games are bad, mmmkay.’ Yes, like Mr. Mackey from South Park. We have politicians in this country who impoverish entire communities and yet those communities, in many cases, ask for more from the very vampiric Robber Barons that suck them dry in the first place.
Unlike me, where I learned from games that talking to everyone is vital to obtaining information necessary for character growth, those that suffer and wallow in decay and despair, often look and listen for information in a very limited field. This guides their view to be just as limited and narrow. Where I learned from pattern recognition, like where Mike Tyson blinks (Tyson’s Punch Out), you dodge, they seemingly haven’t the mental aptitude nor desire to even notice that he blinked and so they get clobbered. Mike Tyson blinking is indicative of some politicians talking. You’re about to get punched in the face whether you know it or not.
There is a YouTube documentary: “How poor people survive in the USA” . The very people who cry out some approximation of liberty or death, are the very people devastated by the same politicians making the same timeless promises they never keep. This then dupes these supporters, those this politician is sworn to represent, into great despair and misery by way of poverty. So much so that opening a pop-up dental field hospital is like Lallapaloosa, in that it attracts that many people. Entire communities lacking healthcare or the ability to see a doctor due to their impoverished status and lack of jobs, while living in the richest country in the world where throngs yell “America first”. Add to that, where healthcare is tied to the jobs they’ve lost, and this geographical area is likely to vote for the very people who secure these conditions.
Without an ability to see beyond what you’re being told, and without the aptitude or desire to seek information outside your little bubble, we often find ourselves in places where our non-data driven approach leads to further misery. Like me in a video game, they are blazing and blitzing through political conversations with propaganda like “Make America Great Again” or “Blue No Matter Who”. Both are effectively meaningless statements in and of themselves. It is up to you to impart meaning into it. When you do so, the propaganda has you now hooked.
Why is that, you ask? Once you impart meaning into something so emotionally charged, anyone who questions it then questions your identity. As the only way for you to infuse meaning into something devoid of it, is to effectively wear it and assimilate it. Then if I, some upstart, questions your identity, you get “offended” and look to shutdown the conversation. Likely by either calling me a Libtard or a Trump supporter because in todays day in age, people who drink the Republican Kool-Aid just can’t bring themselves to think that someone with similar views, wouldn’t support a comb-over fuhrer who only looks out for himself. And the same with those who drink the Kool-Aid in the establishment Democrats side. They just can’t believe that non-Trump supporters don’t like their corporate candidate that would sooner vote for Trumps policies while virtue signaling how destructive he and those same policies are. Simultaneously, they further virtue signaling just how “woke” they are in gross displays of shallow symbolism.
I get called a Trump supporter constantly. Which is funny since I am an anti-war activist, political Leftists, and as a precinct chair for my local Democratic party who even got arrested protesting the I.C.E. concentration camps. You see, some games are meant to get you to follow a very narrow path and some meant to expand your awareness. Even if you don’t play video games, it doesn’t take a genius to know that there is a vicious game being played on the American people by those who are elected to represent US.
What I want all my readers to consider: We have Right-Wing Libertarians who, in multiple states, showed up to their state’s capital, armed, and screamed in the face of the police that they wanted to work and wanted a haircut. For real, people were very upset they couldn’t get their hair done. While many people would say “they need to work to eat”, and yes that may be accurate in normal circumstances, why can’t we give a hand up to American’s in such unprecedented times?
You may not know, there was a bill passed called the CARES act. It gave $1200 to each American; a form of universal basic income. Well the CARES act, voted on by effectively every Republican and Democrat, the New York Times reported that there was a “bonanza” giveaway to rich real estate investors. 21 million people have lost their jobs and the stock market goes up because both Democrats and Republicans pass “bonanza” giveaways to the richest people in the world. The stock market is nothing more than a reflection of rich people’s feelings and not to be taken as a measure of a healthy country.
With that in mind, what prevents Congress from a “bonanza” giveaway to the American people? As a soldier I was told that we don’t leave American’s behind enemy lines. Why is poverty not an enemy line we are willing to rescue fellow American’s from? How does impoverishing more people help our country be leaders in the world? Even the meat head’s meat head, Joe Rogan, is for some sort of Universal Basic Income for everyone, in an effort to help create less losers. We all benefit from having less losers he says, and I agree.
If you can’t put food on the table but your Representatives are giving away yachts to people who want to park it in their bigger yacht, is this Liberty? This is what American Libertarians fight for. If this were a video game, would you feel compassion for the yacht people or the poor? Those with more wealth than they can spend in a lifetime or those who have limited abilities to advocate for themselves and are so excited that they can get seen by a dentist, in a field hospital full of volunteers, that someone would think Wood Stock was reborn?
Who do you think needs more help? Allow games to soften your soul and connect you to much of humanity. You are either playing a game while getting played yourself, or simply just getting played. We face so much difficulty and so many barriers in our lives, why be a barrier to another working-class person doing nothing more than struggling to survive?
I am extending an olive branch to the Right. There is no liberty in Right-Wing policies which is why there is no liberty in Democratic policies either. They operate hand in glove. The CARES act was the single largest upward (from poor people to the rich) transfer of wealth in human history. Even the NRA who advocates for the 2nd Amendment in case of a tyrannical government, are silent at all the police brutality videos, exposing a tyrannical government. Even people are murdered in their sleep because cops went to the wrong location, with little more than a “my bad”. Is this the liberty they are fighting for?
I, for one, hope that you take the olive branch and help me reshape the misery of America. To point it away from those who deserve it least and towards those who deserve it most. The very people who cause it. How do we get there? Gamers running for political office of course. You likely won’t win your first race, much like your first level on a difficult game. Running for office is like a game of Dark Souls. The more purposeful your actions, the better your chances. As for now, if you aren’t part of the system, you will be ground up by it.
I have played too many games where I could seize the narrative and flip the script. I can’t stop now. Join me. Use your skills you have developed. Don’t let others control your narrative. The force is strong with us gamers. I guarantee some of you have thought just how much smarter you are than our current politicians. You’re probably right. So, prove it. I started this editorial with my version of the Rifleman’s creed for a reason. We have weapons of our own. Our ways of thinking, our minds, and our ability to adapt to adversity and overcome barriers as games surely require you to.
Looks like it is time to deploy those weapons. Here is even a link for tools to get started (www.OurVoiceUSA.org) in an effort to help right the wrongs and fix the trajectory of misery upon the miserable who deserve it most. Hell, Tik-Tok teens and K-pop fans made a mockery of American politicians.
What can you do? What can we do, as a gaming community?
“Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution. It forces us to change our thinking in order to find it.” -Niels Bohr
About the author: Joshua Cameron served in the U.S. Army as a combat medic from 12/99-12/03, where he deployed to the Balkans and Middle East. He currently resides in Utah and looks to piss people off who have “traditional” political views that are meant to punch down on the working poor in this country.