Games, timers and recollection

Screenshot Sims 2

A certain discontent, or at least lack of joy, when playing games for a while.

With my renewed attempt to tell the story of the simulated neighborhood of Micropolis, I have once again encountered a peculiar experience I have written about before: When I spend too much time in a game, I experience a general feeling of discontent, restlessness, even irritation. This does not seem to be related to what actually happens in the game. It may seem reasonable to get a little upset if I play a superhero game and suddenly a bunch of villains ambush me. But I get the same feeling, if not more so and sooner, from watching my small computer people go to work, come home from work, cook dinner, play the piano all night and feel lonely because they have prioritized the piano over their friends, with no help from me by the way.

So I have been thinking that perhaps I should start a timer when I begin playing, and stop after one hour or half an hour – this will take some experimenting to find a reasonable value. The idea is to get out of there before the discontent sets in. I have mentioned my suspicions that the problem may be of a spiritual or metaphysical nature: That spending too much time in a lower-dimensional world, one less real than me, causes some kind of “essence leak” or something that diminishes me. But that is just a vague hypothesis. It is based on the polar opposition from spiritual practice, which is not fun but ultimately satisfying, whereas for gaming the opposite is true. That is not to say that gaming is evil – and especially when there is a noble purpose to it. But in terms of effect on my soul, I think there may be some negative effects. Interestingly there seems to elapse a certain amount of time before this feeling of discontent sets in.

One of the saints I read during the past year repeatedly used the word “recollection”, which is an interesting noun. It seems to refer to a kind of spiritual concentration that is basically remembering to be present. Perhaps I have misunderstood this, but the voice in my heart seems to like this idea, that staying too long in lower worlds – games, movies, daydreams – unravels my recollection, my experience of united presence in the face of higher reality.

There are times when I suspect that the so-called “real life” is itself a lower reality, not in the Matrix sense of virtual reality but in a spiritual sense, that the home of the soul is actually higher up, and that a certain amount of discontent is unavoidable if one accepts this life on earth as one’s home. The Buddha’s primary revelation – often translated as “life is suffering” – could refer to just this opening toward discontent that comes from living below one’s home reality. But is this the same for all of us? I do not know.

Anyway, it is time to experiment with a timer, I think, and report back to you. If I never do, I probably found it too cumbersome and forgot the whole thing.

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