The Answers of the Ineffable Part 4 – Video Games!

Please read Part 3! Seriously!

Appeal

Finally, we arrive at the seemingly banal part: the video games.

Every person has what we’d call a “guilty pleasure”, whatever entertainment media you happen to enjoy. In most situations, we call them this precisely due to the status of such a product or work as “lowbrow” or “lacking substance”. In the video game realm, these fit into the “so bad they’re good” category, or simply games that fell by the wayside as other games with far better marketing budgets captured the hearts of the populace.

I love these sorts of game, and I feel little to no guilt playing them. At times, the polish of AAA games turns me off too much; when there’s the inevitable glitch, it takes you right out of the experience. Not so with these “guilty pleasures”, as expectations on my part present a far more interesting experience.When someone tells you something is pretty darn awful, color me intrigued. I don’t want other people to tell me what I like and don’t like; I want to experience the “awfulness” for myself.

This explains why, even though they make games completely different than they did during my childhood, I still find myself with a soft spot for Square-Enix products. Many times, they either go for incredibly traditional (Dragon Quest Whatever) or experimental (Final Fantasy) or just plain wacky (NieR). In most cases, they either suceeed or fail – but most of the failures strike me as interesting and fun to play regardless. So many good idea end up in these games that the ideas themselves often merit attention from me to play the games…maybe at a discount, but played nonetheless!

You could also call it a strange bit of nostalgia. I would, in some sense, call myself a critic, but I often hold my critical faculties aside when I play something from The House That Cloud Strife Built. Something about Square-Enix games always makes me happy, and there’s something to be said for that. I remember in 2010 that I did not plan on buying Final Fantasy XIII at all. Who didn’t hear of the corridors and the endless linearity? I also had Bayonetta, so why bother? And yet, there on release day, I popped into my local GameStop to buy Square’s latest load of crap…only it wasn’t. I enjoy Final Fantasy XIII, and still enjoy it (and its myriad sequels).

finalfantasyxiii-02

Yes, I enjoyed this. Sue me.

Can I explain this? No, not in any way that claims to know the accuracy of my own mental states. I simply do; something ineffably draws me to Square-Enix products, and I can’t rid myself of their draw on me. I don’t understand why, nor could I put it into words. I just do, and I am not ashamed of it. I won’t fall to the power of introspective illusion, and I will not create some far-fetched explanation; I will just let it lie, and that’s it. Otherwise, you fall into quite a hole:

Believing you understand your motivations and desires, your likes and dislikes, is called the Introspection Illusion. You believe you know yourself, and why you are the way you are. You believe this knowledge tells you how you will act in all future situations. Research shows otherwise.

Time after time, experiments show introspection is not the act of tapping into your innermost mental constructs, but is instead a fabrication, a construction, a fiction. You look at what you did, or how you felt, and you make up some sort of explanation which you can reasonably believe. If you have to tell others, you make up an explanation they can believe too.

And, hey, we all do it. At least we’re in this together. We all find ourselves with things we like and religions we follow without knowing quite why we like it – other than knowing that it remains true, and that it speaks to us on some primal level.

I am starting to think the same of Christianity: yes, we could certainly arrive at a list of reasons, a host of experiences, or maybe even something else, but would that truly quantify it? Would that suddenly convert everyone and everything? Somehow, I doubt that there’s a magic intellectual/emotional nerve that allows you to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Rather, the solution lies in the realization of truth that moves beyond human categories. Try as we might, we fail to summarize the complexities of faith, and we turn God into something other than what He is: ineffable, and almighty. There’s a reason why I shudder when people use the Tetragrammaton so flippantly in worship songs: we are not worthy to say, nor pronounce, God’s name.

How does one explain the inexplicable truth? By letting it be the truth. God does not magically explain himself to Moses; He says “I Am That I Am”, and Exodus 3 tells us that this answer remains perfectly sufficient, perfectly authoritative, and perfectly necessary.

13 Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” 15 God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations.

Don’t explain what needs no explanation. Some things will remain a mystery forever. The wiser man knows that he does not know, and is satisfied. It’s slightly ironic that I spent nearly five thousands words trying to explain something that cannot be explained, but there’s Theology Gaming for you.

About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.