Video games can play a significant role in how humans develope their understanding of other people. However, I don’t mean games like “Mario Kart” or “Animal Crossing” which one plays for fun. What I mean are meaningful story-based adventure games with interactive storytelling and believable, authentic characters where you can make your own choices. In the abstract for chapter 19 of their book “Business, Technological, and Social Dimensions of Computer Games”, Stephen Schafer and Gino Yu statet that “meaningful games will cultivate emotional intelligence, somatic awareness, and archetypal integration in order to “un-condition” the mind and thereby facilitate psychologically meaningful personal transformations” (Schafer, Yu, 2011). Certainly, more research needs to be done on this topic, but what I can say from my own experience is that several story games I played myself or watched other people play influenced me greatly in my emotional understanding and my reasoning abilities. You don’t want to know how much I time I spend sometimes, pondering on a Life Is Strange decision …
Anyway, today I want to share a quote from one of my favourite video games – “Detroit – Become Human”. The game plays in the futuristic Detroit of 2038 where humans are served by life-like androids. These androids however aren’t just machines; they talk, walk and behave just like human beings do. Over the course of the game, the player gets to play three androids and “see[s] a world at the brink of chaos – perhaps our future – through their eyes” (Quantic Dream). Finally, all the choices will lead up to one of the many possible endings, determining the future of Detroit and the destiny of humanity. One of my favourite quotes from the game come from Markus, the leader of the android revolution group “Jericho”:
“We all have something we want to forget. But you need to know where you come from to know who you are.”Marcus (Detroit – Become Human)
This quote seems to capture quite accurately the feelings of every android who decided to open their eyes, put an end to their slavery and joined the revolution. Rather than living their life obeying humans, they have become a new intelligent species who have the right for freedom and self-determination. With this choice, troubled feelings arise in many androids, leaving them at first regretful at what they had to do to escape from slavery. After all, they are alive and just want to live a life in freedom where no human is keeping them down. What they also feel is bitterness and shame about the way they have allowed themselves to be treated by humans. Being no more than an object, used for human advantage, entertainment or even pleasure has left a mark on the androids in the game. Preferably, they would want to close their eyes to the past because of the internalized shame and regret. But Marcus knows better. “Humans are both our creators and our oppressors”. Without humans, androids simply wouldn’t even exist. With this and many other (determinant) actions in Jerichos leadership, he gives his followers a new perspective and hope for a better tomorrow.
What does this story tell us about our own life? I think this quote serves as a good chance to talk about self-acceptance and forgiveness: When we as humans look back on our life, there are moments or times we wish we could cut from our history. They make us feel bad and we may think “God, how could I have done that” or “I hate that phase of my life!”. It is hard to accept your life’s journey so far. But as we get older, we grow to understand that those were the experiences that made us who we are today. Andréa Dykstra phrased it this way: “In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experience that shaped you.” With that, Andréa isn’t trying to say that you try to see the positive in everything. It is okay to acknowledge parts of our past as “bad” or “unfair”. What’s important to see is that our personality has grown from experiences that all became part of us, good ones as well as bad ones. We probably wouldn’t have learned a particular lesson if we hadn’t made that mistake at the time. We also wouldn’t have grown as much if we hadn’t gone through that breakup or that change of location. When we push the bad stuff away, we turn our bitterness against ourselves. However, once we make peace with the past, we learn to embrace and heal ourselves. By letting go, we not only make peace with ourselves but also with the people who hurt us or tore us down. In an earlier post, I used the phrase “Thank you for this experience”. This works here just as equally. By saying this, you acknowledge that you learned from the unpleasant experience, because it taught you what you don’t want in your life. This is valuable knowledge as well! How does that one saying go?: “Scars are the proof that your past is real”. Whether they are physical or emotional ones, all of them made you who you are today and there is no shame in that.You are stilll here and that’s all that matters.
What can be a helpful way of letting go is writing down what you are feeling troubled about and really laying it all out on the line. No one has to see that, this is just for you. Then, when you are finished, you can burn the piece of paper in a fireplace or a small controlled fire. When you don’t want to burn it, you can also throw it away, it has a similar effect. A study by Brinol and Gascó from 2013 has actually verified this: Writing down unwanted thoughts and then throwing them away has the effect that the thoughts are discarded mentally as well. They also noted that it is important to really do the work, merely imagining it did not have an effect quite as strong. This can serve as a symbol for letting go of the heavy energy. Another thing that can help is the insights by Leo Gura from Actualized.org. He shows in a fantastic way how to stop beating yourself up about the past by teaching you about self-love. Here you can find his video on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcNGtZPPSS8. Leo has may other helpful videos that can help you. He has devoted himself to deeply understand human life, reality and the human mind. Whether you struggle on your self-love-journey, your spiritual journey or anything in life generally, on his channel you can definitely find what you are looking for.
– Schafer, S. B., & Yu, G. (2011). Meaningful Video Games: Drama-based video games as transformational experience. In Business, Technological, and Social Dimensions of Computer Games: Multidisciplinary Developments (pp. 312-329). IGI Global.
– Quantic Dream. (2022). Detroit: Become Human | Official Site. URL: https://www.quanticdream.com/en/detroit-become-human
– Briñol, P., Gascó, M., Petty, R. E., & Horcajo, J. (2013). Treating thoughts as material objects can increase or decrease their impact on evaluation. Psychological science, 24(1), 41-47.
– Leo Gura. (2016). The Power Of Self Acceptance – How To Stop Beating Yourself Up. URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcNGtZPPSS8.