I try not to get too far off topic on this blog. Even though I’ve been so busy that I haven’t really been able to post as regularly as I’d like, I still want to write about gaming and related topics. But every now and then, something gets too far into my head and I can’t seem to shake it – a thought that I just need to further express. A while ago, I wrote a post, “Waiting to hear the Call” that was about applying an idea to gaming that I can’t seem to shake in real life. And it keeps burdening me, keeps turning up. It’s making me crazy.
It’s that same idea, that idea of being summoned – of being called to do something. To do anything…
As I mentioned back in October when I wrote that first post, I’d been thinking about this idea – and where it fit into gaming – this idea of calling the heroes to become heroes. I still believe in that for gaming, but the idea is a problem for me in real life too. I, me, this guy, writing the blog… I want to be summoned. I want someone to put out the Call. But it ain’t gonna happen.
How did all this start? I think it started with a short story I was writing about a Call gone wrong. Maybe I can get the darn thing published someday, who knows? But it was about a time when that call to heroic action didn’t work out quite right. I think my fascination with this idea goes back even further though. As a kid – even before I was a teenager – I remember being deeply affected by the scene in The Last Unicorn when Molly first sees the unicorn. It’s gut-wrenching – I’m all grown up now and I still get misty-eyed at this scene, every single time. But my story got me to realize how much I wished that I could have a call of my own, even one that went horribly wrong – at least it would be something!
I’m not the only one – it seems – who is thinking about this.
That word I keep using, Summon – I actually got it, with the meaning I’m reaching for here – was from the book, Hot, Flat, and Crowded. The author is writing about a lot of things, but one portion that really sticks with me is this idea that there are so many people out there – I won’t say disenfranchised – they have jobs, lives, families, and probably are relatively normal – but they want to do more. They want direction. They want to be summoned.
I’ve already mentioned the work of Doran Larson in my previous post, and recently, I’ve encountered this idea again in Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World by Jane McGonigal. Again, a message of the vast, untapped group of people wanting, waiting, for a Call. Of course, McGonigal’s message is far more hopeful than many of the others I’ve mentioned.
One more example – I read Daniel Suarez’s books, Daemon and Freedomtm. I don’t want to give away any spoilers because I highly recommend these books to anyone reading this. I’ll only say this – the brilliance of these books, for me, was not all the technology, or even the characters – which is normally what I love in a story. No, the most important thing in these books is the empowerment of people – the empowerment of a movement – by an outside force. This force levels the playing field – but more importantly – this force puts out a call, gives people a chance, and the response of the people, the flocking to answer that call – that is what is so amazing. Again, I highly recommend these books. Take the time to read them, think about them.
As I mentioned before, I have a decent life. I have a loving girlfriend, I’m working on graduate studies, I run a convention and I’ve taught middle school and college students. My career has followed interesting paths and I’ve travelled to all kinds of interesting places, both in my games and in my real life. I don’t sit on my couch and moan about the future, about what’s wrong with my life… and I don’t think many of the people the writers I’ve mentioned here – the scholars and novelists aren’t writing about people who are just sitting around waiting for the future – we are part of it.
But it’s not enough.
We want more. We still want to be summoned – to be called to a greater need. It is what happens in our games – what happens in the greatest mythic tales. I want it to happen in my life – and I am not alone.