Saturday, May 17, 2003

Welcome to your new life!

In my "real" life, I am a firm believer that while one travels along the journey of life you don't actually ever "begin" or "end" parts of said life, you just progress along to different degrees, and in differing directions as new challenges, opportunites and or paths arise. I have personally so far led a very full and interesting life, and whilst many events/people have graced my life that may have appeared to alter it, it is still part of the normal continuous cycle of my lifetime. My life is a work in progress, an artform, an expression of who I am at any given time. My life has always been a real world illustration of my dreams, my goals, my issues/causes, my loves and who I want to be in my world. I reject any notions that a life should be lived in any or one certain way, to one set of standards, with one set of goals and with no room to grow and/or expand. I have never been perfect - but there is a difference between being perfect and perfectly living. No matter what terrible/funny/amazing things may have happened to me along my path (my friends sometimes encourage me to write a book...), I am happy and am able to encorporate all my experiences into the well rounded, well adjusted, fun and happy person I am today. But... what if lives could be randomly begun?

Lately a strange phenomenon has overtaken my family.

We are living shadow lives in a sort of in-the-closet way. "Pretend" lives, lives that aren't easy to talk about in certain company given the propensity to be misunderstood or teased. Yet we have all been gripped by it - addicted to it in a fashion that it calls to us, permeates our dreams and our waking thoughts, influences how we see the world around us and conquers our efforts to resist or repel it. Lives that should be fine to live, should be proud to talk about, should be eventually accepted to the status quo... yet some how the normalcy of it remains just out of our reach...

We willingly get up early in the morning to participate in our new community, we eagerly return home from our days anticipating special events and or recieving/discovering something new about the community we share in this life we are creating together, the four of us. We have even begun to reschedule "real" world because of "new" life demands. We are hooked in deeper than I ever imagined would be possible. I am ofcourse, talking about the recent introduction of Nintendo's Animal Crossing into our vast library of video games (aka electronic crack).

We each have a character and a house in our Animal Crossing town, which Duncan named Bag End. Duncan and I share an island getaway which I named Hawaii (since I am so looking forward to going there soon) and our combined repetoire of cash/items/skills grows as each minute we live in... err, I mean, play in, Bag End. However, this is a game that never ends. You can't finish it. Nintendo's success has been that it is programed to real time, our time, to the very day. The store is only open from 7:00 am - 11:00pm, people sleep at night, certain animals/fish/bugs only come out at certain times of the day, there are seasons, there are moods, an economy to participate in, loans to repay, a stock market, items to collect, a black market, jobs (missions) to be completed AND day specific events (like mothers/fathers day, christmas, halloween, sale days, certain days fruit grows, etc etc) that you have to actually wait for that calendar day to arrive to enjoy.

In an odd way, it gently (but surprisingly quickly) begins to mess with your head... Things we see in the "outside" and "real" world are related to what we do/see/hear in our Animal Crossing world, and visa versa. I sopose anyone who has played Diablo, or another type of role playing game may understand this type of intergration... but it is met with some humor as well as some trepidation at the way it has become so quickly ingrained in our lives. And don't ask me which life, cause I don't know if I could make a distinction at this time. Regardless, Nintendo is a master, and has more then artfully captured what makes a good game, and it has captured us. Yesterday as a gift, Duncan bought me the Nintendo guide to Animal Crossing. Opening the book revealed a simple yet profound statement on the inside cover...

It reads: "Welcome to your new life". Yep, they know what they are doing alright.

So, I guess if you lose contact with us or we seem to randomly disappear, then maybe some sort of rescue team should be dispatched, or a crisis addiction team, or maybe even the real world police should be made to pay us a visit. Anyways, it's my turn after Duncan finishes so I must get going now...

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