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The Mad Psychology of Electronic Gaming

The Mad Psychology of Electronic Gaming

How an obsessed gamer taught me the meaning of life.

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Not one of us is whole. We are all shattered fragments of the oneness that preceded us. If a single one of us were whole, the entire world would be whole. And if the entire world is not whole, no single individual can be whole.

But then, had we had started off whole and complete, we would never discover who we are.


Hack!


Dave had finished his masters degree in psychology and was now immersed in a full-time course to create electronic games. He was a deep spring, bubbling with originality. I was his instructor in Game Design.

“Dave,” I asked him, “why are you switching careers in midstream?”

“Because I love gaming,” he answered. “But I’m also frustrated by all the games I’ve played. After you’ve played them a little, the characters become so predictable. They’re just not real enough. So I want to apply what I’ve learned in psychology to create unpredictable characters. Real characters.”

“What would an unpredictable,What would an unpredictable, real character do? real character do?”

“Probably the same as I would do. He would hack into the code and start messing with it.”

“Dave, why would you want your characters to hack your game?”

“C’mon! That would be wild! I could so much identify with them. That would be the ultimate game!”

“And just how,” I asked Dave, “would you render your characters unpredictable? Whatever random functions you write, at the end of the day, you have control.”

And that’s a problem, a grand problem for anyone who writes code to create worlds. Because there is a solution, one that extends throughout our universe. But not one that any human creator can carry through.


Boom!


The solution is an explosion.The solution is an explosion. Not a programmed explosion, not the product of any hyper-complex algorithm to simulate randomness, nothing any code could create. No—an explosion involving infinite numbers of infinite processes, so that the resulting equilibrium—or lack of it—could never be retraced to its source. In the language of physics, an irreversible process.

In the language of Kabbalah, that was the shattering of the world of Tohu, a world that preceded the creation of our own world. And that explosion, in turn, was triggered by the utter removal of all light at the outset of creation.

It is that curtain of darkness and the resultant explosion that allows us to act as beings of our own, to choose our destinies, to create our own lives, to take the universe in our hands. To be real.

For a human being, the problem with an explosion is that you have lost control. Anything could happen. You have let go, you have opened the box, and you will never be the owner again. All the king’s men could never put those pieces back together again.

Unless you are everywhere. Everywhere, meaning that you are found in chaos as you are found in order; you are found in random chance as you are found in the predictable, you are found in every effect as you are in the prime cause; you are found in the other as you are found in your own self.

Which is what we mean when we say “G‑d.”


Flash!


Dave’s dream was an exciting dream for any programmer.That tree in the garden now made so much sense. For me, it was a flash of insight.

The story of Adam and Eve with that tree in the garden now made so much sense. Why would G‑d put a tree in the middle of the garden only to tell His creatures not to eat from it—knowing full well the nature He had given them, that deep human urge to taste the forbidden fruit, to break out of any box placed around them?

Now I had a grasp of the delight the Creator of the universe must have in our very humanness, our proclivity to failure, how we can deliberately fall outside the divine plan, and then somehow rewrite our script and make our way back on track—now with an even more exciting, wild and wonderful storyline.


Rage!


So here is this broken human beast.

A thousand voices scream within. Its mind and heart refuse to make peace, leaving its appetite for self-gratification to step in and take command. Battles rage daily, battles of passion, of obsession, of depression and self-destruction. Any movement forward is recompensed with mighty waves carrying it backwards and downwards with a vengeance.

And only with the greatest, most stubborn effort does it manage to escape its own nature,In this one beast is the entire, broken, shattered and fragmented world. perhaps for only a moment, to sneak in a lone act that is pure and innocent—before it can realize what it has done.

In this one beast is the entire, broken, shattered and fragmented world, wrapped up in a single conscious being.

And within this beast, G‑d breathes. The breath reconnects the beast back to its origin, to its place that precedes the primal disaster. Slowly, step by step, the beast is revealed for its true essence and being—the intense light of Tohu.

Yet innocence lost is never regained. No memory can be erased, no failure can be undone. You can never return to the same place; you can only rise higher. Incomparably higher.


Laughter!


In effect, another explosion must occur. A kind of nuclear fission, unleashing the power held tightly within all matter. Once that G‑d-point within the beast is touched and transformed, a chain reaction runs throughout the cosmos. Nothing remains the same.

As the Zohar says, “When the Side of Otherness is subdued in this world, there shines a light from beyond all worlds within all worlds.”

None of us is whole. None of us must make ourselves whole. But it takes only one of us to turn our beast around, if just for a moment, and do one pure, innocent deed.

With that,G‑d laughs and says, “Look what they did with my broken world!” all the world is changed.

G‑d Himself laughs, and says, “Look what they did with my broken world!”

Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, a senior editor at Chabad.org, also heads our Ask The Rabbi team. He is the author of Bringing Heaven Down to Earth. To subscribe to regular updates of Rabbi Freeman's writing, visit Freeman Files subscription. FaceBook @RabbiTzviFreeman Periscope @Tzvi_Freeman .
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Mlk Brockton Ma December 27, 2016

Mad I've read most of what you have written . In layman's terms I will call it gaming is worth it? You've described rage and many other emotions . It depends on the male programs if that's so where do we go from there ? There are so many phases here that really it can not be realistic . Reply

sunil subba India December 8, 2016

Thanks for descibing the analogy of the computer with its relation to the mystic aspects.Yes,the process is inside out as well as outside in.In the inside in with awareness and understanding change could occur but at times when it does not work then the change in habits could occur from the outside in.Due to the ego at times the work can be done but when combined with the original nature of light then it becomes a work of the highest order. Reply

Tzvi Freeman December 8, 2016

Re: Very Good, but One Question... Along the lines of the Rambam, yes. The Zohar provides explanation. As does the Arizal and chapter 37 of Tanya. Reply

Moishe Las Vegas December 8, 2016

Very Good, but One Question... In your conclusion is the following about which I'm confused:
"But it takes only one of us to turn our beast around, if just for a moment, and do one pure, innocent deed."
The Zohar's description is what happens when a mitzvah is done, so I don't understand why you say it takes only one person.
Are you saying that it takes one particular mitzvah that will happen to be the last one necessary to result in the arrival of Moishiach as the RaMbaM states in his scale-tipping analogy? Reply

Oliver Oyanadel Winsted, CT 06098 December 8, 2016

You might find this interesting about (c^6)^2. BB=n2^64 The Big Bang equals the neutronic value of 2 to the 64th power. Discovered by yours truly, Oliver Oyanadel. Reply

Anonymous December 8, 2016

Very Good I love the idea that we can never go back rather always higher - so many of us try to recapture what was lost Reply

Anonymous December 8, 2016

Excellent article and very well written! Thanks for posting! Reply

Penina Rivka Watstein, Ph.D. Los Angeles, CA December 7, 2016

Unless the male gamer programs Eve 2.0
into the system, the beast can never be
tamed. ONLY Eve 2.0 (and her female
descendants) can add that programming.
Reply