A Different Kind Of Halo

by Matt Sitman

Amit Majmudar doubts people’s desire for a typical religious afterlife, citing video games in defense of his thesis:

[H]eaven must get pretty boring. This has to do with its stasis; its unvarying bliss, devoid of any contrasting emotions by whose paradoxical grace we might treasure or even perceive bliss; its perfectly certain future, which is eternal continuance; and above all its absence of conflict. Still worse, you are denied the company of flawed people, who are, let’s face it, a vast and interesting tribe.

This is why the human race, over the past 30 years—roughly my life span—has aggressively developed simulated realities that have very little in common with the concept of heaven as described in traditional religion. The place to look for the truest, deepest human fantasies about the afterlife is gaming. There’s no spiritually correct nonsense there, just pure choice. Game designers are free to design an environment; game players are free to elect or not to elect to enter it. Inevitably, when analyzing video games, your conclusions will be skewed toward young males, but it’s still worth studying the kinds of worlds in which gamers elect to spend their time.