Life Online is an experience that never seems to disappoint nor does it get less fascinating. To bring oneself out of themselves, the mundanity of their personal lives into the bigger world that they’re a part of. To see the wonderful worlds of the world whether it be spending time with someone you like, going to a theme park, a beach, spending time in your room, going to another country, looking through a microscope, etc.
Very recently I had the opportunity to spend some time with my friend for a day and it left me feeling very bubbly. It all started with my morning dealing with my siblings, at the start I was feeling irritated throughout leading up to my friend picking me up. Preceding her arrival I got everything ready. I ironed my clothes, packed my laptop, brushed my teeth, took a shower, got my longboard ready, yes indeed. The moment I stepped into her car I was entering another world unlike the one I stepped out of.
Now let me mind you that this is the first I’ve ever spent time with a woman like this, and although it was a very happy experience it also felt quite awkward. When we arrived at her abode the first things I’ve noticed were signs of a geeky household. Nintendo 3DS games, PS3 games, Dante’s Divine Comedy, Teen Titans figures, Kingdom Hearts 1.5 and 2.5, yeah you get the picture. During my time at her house we chatted, I got to see her rock out on her guitar, showed her this blog, not to mention getting to meet her bundles of cuteness companions. We discussed topics such as the state of the world, the nature of Islam and unrestrained irrationality as a result of mixing Qur’an with hadith (6:114-115; 6:159; 9:31; 12:111; 31:6; 39:23), her musical influences, and many other things.
Being with her brought me a level of relaxation and happiness that I’ve never felt before. It may seem like I was just dazzled by an experience that is commonplace for many others but I cherish this. To have strong feelings for another person and for them to trust you enough to invite you into their living quarters is a special thing indeed. The experience was a bit awkward for a few reasons, one being that this was an interaction between an adult man and woman which with all honesty I’m still new to. The second reason being that she just so happened to read a certain article on this website that alluded to the feelings I have for a special someone, which I’m not sure if she knew that I was talking about her. Thirdly was her friends from the area seeing me with her, I bet they were wondering who I was, this black dude wearing a skull cap hanging out with their friend.
All these things aside the day concluded with me feeling euphoric, so much so that I took a nap at about 9PM and didn’t wake up until 2AM. I went back to sleep and woke up the next morning only for the relaxation to still linger. It felt like I took a literal chill pill, I still had a long smile on my face long after the day concluded. Being around this person brings genuine smiles to my face. Whenever I work at Domino’s having to smile for customers, sometimes they don’t feel genuine as if I’m merely putting on a professional persona. But when I’m around this person the smiles I make are genuine. One of these days I hope that we may get together again to do something, I feel as though there’s a debt that I must repay for all that she’s given.
It’s interesting how there exists worlds within worlds. I talked about this in one of my earlier articles about the concept of the magic circle in digital media. In my view magic circles aren’t only exclusive to theme parks, video games, and books but they’re everywhere. Whether you go to a zoo, a school, your friend’s house, your bedroom, whenever you go somewhere else you are stepping into another world. All worlds leave an impression on whoever experiences them, otherwise Disney World wouldn’t be as successful as it is nor Nintendo’s stellar Legend of Zelda series. But worlds don’t need to be created from scratch to be enthralling, although our hand in the worldbuilding process plays a critical role. Like any interactive experience we’re not merely spectators of Life Online but “interactors”, we play a role in building on top of what is already here. My friend’s living quarters had a very laid-back vibe, I felt like I could lay down my mask a bit and just be myself, she saw a part of me that is rarely exposed to others outside of my family.
That’s one of the things that can happen when stepping into another world, to feel comfortable with being vulnerable, candid, and revealing what’s beneath our masks a bit. But in order for that to be possible the interactor must feel comfortable with the world and who they’re sharing it with. This is something that I’m sure game designers take into account when creating game worlds, what they want the player to feel like when they interact in their world.
I think worldbuilding is one of the essences of being human for we create the world that we live in through our actions, character, personality, beliefs, and interests. Sometimes we’re not even aware of how we affect others for better or worse. This reminds me of the time where I designed three posters for some permaculture sites here in St. Pete at the St. Peace House. Having no idea what influence I had within the community, I recently found out from my friend Cristy that because they put those posters up, the Peace House stopped receiving code violations for the permaculture sites.
When I thought of all the ways my posters could’ve been better and how I didn’t really think they were that good, many others saw them for what they were and not what they were not. What we tend to do is that we forget just how much we mean to those around us, I know I have on numerous occasions. Sometimes I wonder what people think about me and what I have given to the world. I actually asked my friend who I spent time with what she thinks of me, she said that she really appreciates my company and that there aren’t many genuine people anymore. This is not to say I’m overly self-conscious of myself, I mean some point in life a number of us wonder how others think of us.
This effect I’ve had on the community goes to show a basic but profound truth of Life Online, that is that no one’s life is meaningless or insignificant. Whatever you’ve been through or what you’ve done in your life, you are alive and you are here. Whatever you’ve been born to do or decide to do, there’s a reason that your heart is beating at this moment, whatever you decide to live for. You never know how your presence may affect someone, you may fill a gap in their life, something that they never knew that they wanted. This is what my special friend has done for me, someone that entered my door unexpectedly and without notice. It’s like a constant act of show-and-tell where we reveal ourselves to others and share our gifts.
As an anime fan I’ve seen time and time again those who’d like to immerse themselves in the worlds that they’re fascinated by. Whether it be Soul Eater, Kingdom Hearts, Fullmetal Alchemist, Sailor Moon, Madoka Magica, Fairy Tail, at one point or another we wish to depart from our own reality. At times our everyday lives can seem boring, uneventful even, or in the words of Sora and Shiro from No Game No Life:
“This world is just…a crappy game.”
– Sora and Shiro from No Game No Life Episode 1
Quite interesting how they pointed out that the world is a crappy game and not life itself. But what struck me about this quote ever since I first watched No Game No Life back in 2014 was the fact that Sora and Shiro were freaking geniuses. They had the aptitude and potential to completely turn the status quo on its head, to form a community of like-minded individuals to create the world they’d like to live in, one move at a time. But they didn’t do that. Instead they curled up in their den being the shut-ins that they were and dominated the video game space rather than the real-world space. It took them to be transported to an entirely different world with entirely different rules for their potential to be brought out, but none of us have that luxury. The opponents that they faced in Disboard were really no different from the opponents that they would’ve faced in the real-world. Perhaps this could’ve been a point that the author Yu Kamiya wanted to make, that if you’re sitting on a pile of gold why aren’t you cashing it in?
Throughout my life one of the most recurring comments I receive from others is that I’m intelligent, which I always take humbly. But I could ask myself the same question I asked about Sora and Shiro. If I’m so intelligent, why do I sit on it? Why don’t I make anything of that intellect? Because to me true value isn’t how smart someone is but what they can give back with what they were endowed with. Sora and Shiro could’ve done the same, unfortunately they felt alienated as if they didn’t “fit in”. Why should Sora and Shiro give back to a world that doesn’t accept them? This alone provides enough justification to retreat from society but all the more reason to give back.
Did it ever cross their minds that their world is in dire need of people like them? That there are others who need to know that they’re not alone? The problem here is that, from what I’ve watched of the entire anime and not the light novel, is that Sora and Shiro hid their gifts. Imagine for a moment if one of your most admired artists decided to never show their art to the world, what would your life be like without their influence? Life Online is limitless, if the boot doesn’t fit then I’ll discard it and make my own that fits. This observation was what always cracked my skull about No Game No Life, that Sora and Shiro didn’t truly play Life Online. Sure they were “logged in” but they weren’t playing. But who am I to judge them? Perhaps they do indeed turn around later on in the light novel, everything happens for a reason.
No matter what world we may create for ourselves, whether it be one plagued with racism, sexism, slavery or war, it will always be a world of opportunity. Opportunity to me is synonymous with potential, for the capacity for things to be different. Our capacity as a creation to create institutions, policies, and ideas, can act as a double-edged sword. God is The Best Designer that created us (23:12-14; 40:67), a creation that can endure and persevere in the face of whatever the world can throw at us, like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. It is through this struggle that we gain what Ed from Fullmetal Alchemist described as a “fullmetal heart.”
“A lesson without pain is meaningless. That’s because no one can gain without sacrificing something. But by enduring that pain and overcoming it……he shall obtain a powerful, unmatched heart. A fullmetal heart.”
–Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Episode 64
Tune in to your existence for a moment, that first-person perspective that you’ve always known. This, this fleshy vessel that is the human body is special. This vessel that your soul is housed in which also houses a whole complex world in itself. God created you the player to be as flexible as a butterfly. To traverse this world to see its wonders and signs for those who’re open to them. This game board called human society could never shut out all that you are and all that you can become, for all of this that we’ve come to know is merely a convention. A sandcastle that’ll one day come tumbling down like civilizations of the past. Through all that rubble and debris you’ll unearth a formidable creature that comes bouncing back after each fumble, and that is the brilliant design that is the human being.