As part of ACPA creator Kathy Mac's "Wording Around with Prose" webinars, ACPA managing editor Jamie Kitts responds to their chosen text for lesson 2.1: Writing as a Way of Healing by Louise DeSalvo. This blogpost covers Chapter 7: "Stages of the Process, Stages of Growth I."
I'm drawn to a particular passage in DeSalvo's book today about how we spend our time, and about what the day means as an example of the life. Thoreau speaks of this, and as DeSalvo points out, so does May Sarton. So, here's a little bit about how I spend my day and what I like to think about.
I love video games. I often like to acclimate to new games by thinking about how it feels to move, because games are ultimately about negotiating a space. I like to think about how it feels to move. The physical controller in your hand does not change often, so we take for granted how different it feels to move in each game, even though the physical device is a static object. But you know intuitively that there's a difference. Even if you can't explain it, you can feel it.
I ask myself, How does it feel to move? How does it feel to extend your will in this new world? Is the lightning in your hand unwieldy? Are those legs taking you where you think you should be? How does it feel to be? What is stillness? Is it agitation? Is it padding? Is it tense? What do you want? Does an arrow or a waypoint trace your trajectory, or does the world beckon you without objective? Are you confined in this body, in its world?
How does it feel to breathe in this body?
I think, probably, everyone who reads this has no idea what I'm talking about because this is a poetry website and I doubt the crossover audience between poetry and video games is high (although, hey, here I am). But I hope you can appreciate what I'm trying to get across: each game feels unique, and we map ourselves unto our avatars imperfectly. Maybe this would explain it: think about the little stick you push to move your character around as a metaphor. You push up to move them up, but you aren't mimicking walking. You have to take the mental leap to understand that pushing the stick up means moving forward. Like writing, whether we enjoy a game comes down to how well we can abandon ourselves.
We project into media, even if aware of the medium. At some point that boundary loses its immediacy as a mediator and instead becomes you. How you move through a world is also how that world moves you. We feel these things intuitively, manifesting as physical, emotional, or intellectual sensations, and we can train ourselves to better understand movement as we feel it. We feel these things because we can make those jumps without consciously trying to. We feel these things because on some level we know they should be.
But to move someone else somewhere else, to see something not really in front of you but to feel the emotional turmoil of someone's demise and success, to move and be moved without leaving physical safety: that's more than desire, more than a "wound of reality."
These are not ghosts in our hands. As much as they are someone else's dreams, they are not the sole architects of this connection. The audience is no mere spectator when their actions are the player's. We become in this channel, if only for a moment, the realization of another possibility. If cinema is a haunting from our idealized alternatives, if film can only inflict and not receive, then games are a communion.
I've been thinking a lot lately about whether video games are a spiritual experience, in as much as any text can be transformative.
Anyway, that's what I do with my days, what I think about.
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