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Myth, Gods, and Video Games

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Cultures are continuously evolving myths through their own imaginations, all while sharing a collective source of information. The strongest, most potent myths have risen from the land or atmosphere; gods and mythic tales correspond wholly with the dreamer's environment or evolutionary story. The current "massive mythic expression" is rooted in fear, governmental control, technology, the internet, and, for the sake of this article, video games.

Unfortunately, this foundation takes for granted that we know everything, in a century of understood, literal fact; a belief limiting to the exponential growth of human beings. Eventually, humanity will have to come full circle, embodying magic storytelling in hindsight of fully recognized reality and potential.

I have been curiously drawn to video games since a very young age, and remember being truly amazed at the possibility of so many different worlds at my fingertips. On average, this argument is easily swept under the carpet in favor of more "adult" mindsets, even though video games are calling for greater participation and intellectual comprehension, which our consciousness is responding to.

True myths vary from person to person, reflecting the atmosphere that surrounds "the definer," and experiences that have shaped and have yet to shape the individual. It is a reflection of who we are both on a cosmic and cellular scale, a secret to where we come from. In "A Short History of Myth," Karen Armstrong suggests myth is rooted in the experience of death, evolved through ritual, and that humans, gods, and nature are "composed of the same divine substance." Joseph Campbell stated that "each one of us is the mythological manifestation of God." Life is a direct metaphor of mythological energy.

Amazonian lore centers on the building blocks of life, as told through ayahuasca, "the spirit vine." Rainforests happen to include 50% of the planet's species. Gnostics sought a cosmic understanding, which they exercised through physical initiations of the divine, receiving one of the most beautiful stories of Earth to ever be expressed. Gods and goddesses of Greek mythology reflected a hierarchy of state, order, and varying levels of developing awareness, as seen with Eros & Psyche, Narcissus, Sisyphus, and countless more. The foundation of the Judeo-Christian-Islamic God is arguably rooted more in political and religious control than messages of freedom and love. Through an understanding of mythological process, "they" began to shift belief from infinite to finite, creating a no-way-out manifesto that stunted imaginative growth.

The challenge is to find reality within the dream. In embracing the unlimited and uncertainty, we free ourselves from the ego's zealous desire to attain "perfection," allowing the mythological, imperfect nature of humanity to express itself.

Linear, masculine understanding, where one idea exists, could be perception, while cyclical, feminine understanding, where all ideas co-exist, could be reality. One often confuses reality with what is perceived-to-be reality. Does reality exist without perception? Of course it does, but understanding exists through what is perceived.

All modern myths are in fact "real," but not in perceived reality which our consciousness defines. To grasp a myth outside of this "perceived understanding" — that is where the strength, potency, and truth of it lies, that the imagined is the imaginary, not as something "unreal," but as a stand-alone truth, one that has yet to fully awaken in modern understanding. If ideas do co-exist, then one is no less potent than the other, as they come from the same source.

In "Teaching Spirits," Joseph Epes Brown describes how Native American stories "focus not on how tribes got to a certain place but on how the tribes became who they are … as a part of mythic time, they continue to occur each time they are told."

And if the storyteller was asked, "Is your story true? Did it really happen?" they might respond, "yes," but there is an understanding of that happening outside intellectual thinking. Within this freedom, there is a letting go of the grasp of knowledge; storytellers connect with an epic "misunderstanding," a sacred truth more real than literal faith. In writing, any author will tell you their characters exist more than what is expressed on the page.

Belief in anything literal creates stressful limitations. More people are drawn to learning through modern myths — big budget fantasies, Broadway musicals, and surreal video games — than what others press as cold, hard fact. However, both perspectives are myths of their own, reflecting individual growth and a specific state of mind.

Virtual myths such as video games effect a certain external process of our imagination, allowing us to inactively live through fairy tales, dangers, and life-like adventures in ways that until recently were barely dreamed possible. As a child, gaming experiences rivaled my deepest dreams, or only heightened them in effect, because they required an active use of my imagination.

Twenty years ago, one would have to rely on their own potential to imagine dueling wizardry, magical expeditions, and heroic subplots — no less through cumbersome Japanese translations — to become physically transported to another world. If a modern gamer looked at the "Final Fantasy" of 1987, compared to the upcoming schizophrenic emulsion of "Final Fantasy XIII," "Final Fantasy Versus XIII," and "Final Fantasy Agito XIII," they'd barely stay attentive without a barrage of special effects, climactic cut scenes, and all around sensory candy.

These "empty sensations" allow for a huge counter-effect: completely separating us from our participating universe, as if disappearing from a huge galactic radar. Thousands playing online gaming communities like "World of Warcraft" are lost, their ears and eyes focused on something that, at best, is a pale imitation of their imaginative potential.

More game publishers are now banking on pulling people out of their "real world" instead of encouraging the "real magic," which perhaps exists within it, satisfying an intense longing for mythic expression. Through video games, the media is deadening our imaginations through a manipulative response to our desires, deadening our questioning, and our quest for the great human metaphor. Yet within modern myth lies the potential to finally diffuse the line between literal perception and mythic reality.

Already, the philosophy of our growing consciousness is being unveiled. In "Super Mario Galaxy," the well-known avatar hops from planet to planet, in continuous flight, illuminating a galactic curiosity. "Spore" puts players in control of defining an entire species, evolving first from a cellular to an infinitely cosmic level, allowing free-range between worlds and an extraordinarily changing environment.

There is an innate and real desire to see our dreams come to life before our eyes, and video games potentially lay the foundation for what we consciously have the ability to become: gods and myths of our own imagination, physically incorporating the balance between literal and mythical, among absolute endlessness.

In the popularity of virtual life, it is clear we already want to be in this place. Once a psychic connection is made between us and the imperfect potential of mythmaking, doors will open, with as many worlds to explore as there are dreams to discover them.

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