Posted by: shatteredblog | January 20, 2009

On the nature of Humanity

This post is excerpted from my personal journal, with some extra thoughts added on at the end. A break from game events that I think needs to be discussed on a day so full of hope for many people in the United States.


I was thinking alot about emotional connections today, partially in relation to a radio program and partially just due to all that is happening now. The radio had an interview with a songwriter who said he started to make all-ages music because he wanted to write music that both parents and children would have an emotional connection to. That idea moved me to think about the way in which our interests as adults are molded by the media our parents enjoy and expose us to when we are growing up. My mom loved the movie “The Last Starfighter”, my dad introduced me to Cat Stevens and both have developed in me a taste for science fiction movies and songwriters who use the personal narrative.

Another program on the radio mentioned that the great strength of Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War wasn’t that he was the great emancipator, not to underestimate the importance of that. His focus in the war was the preservation of the union of American states, and to that end he ignored the normal convention of war that says you should dehumanize your opponent. He saw the men and women of the Confederacy as Americans first, and saw their humanity; he went so far as to instruct General Grant not to disarm the military of the South when the surrender was signed. It’s a noble thing to hold that view, to take in all of the division and unrest that boils around you and believe in the humanity of people who are not like you.

It made me think how rare people seem to be in this country now who are non-judgemental. I wonder where my own empathy comes from, and what gave me that view of the world growing up. I don’t think it was my parents. They have their own conceits, and judge some people based on race and social standing though they are better than most. I think part of it was literature, part of it was art and part of it was videogames. It’s the third I wanted to touch on, because I don’t think people who don’t play realize the emotional impact a game can have behind the button pressing and the moving pixels. It’s a form of interactive media that has the capability to tell a story that is as moving as any in literature and can have the same impact.

A good videogame isn’t just a way to waste time, a diversion… it can be a powerful emotional experience. And through their storytelling they can show you things like the idea that absolute power corrupts absolutely, or your enemy may be your best friend in the same way a book or a movie might. It’s my belief that much of why I am the person I am grew from that. Online games, that bring other people into that experience have only reinforced that idea in me.


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