Thursday, August 25, 2005

[Essay] Immortality

Strolling down the video game arcade of the local mall, I took a trip down memory lane and thought of the games that have been popular over the years. Looking at today’s games, one common element they have is the fact that you can now save your games. I mean one of the more popular racing arcade games right now is Initial D v.3 (well, at least it was so a few months ago). Aside from the fact that it’s based on a popular manga/anime, perhaps part of its allure is that you actually keep track of your best times and get to customize your vehicle (by playing more games of course). There’s even a shoot-em-up game where you can save your character as well and unlock hidden surprises in the various stages depending on what your level is. Which brings me to my next point: why are such video games popular?
Surprisingly, the answer isn’t really a new one, and is actually present in classic games be it Pac-Man or Gradius. Why is the save feature so important, be it in RPG’s, shoot-em-up games, or racing games? Perhaps in each and every human being, there’s a desire to be remembered, to be noticed, to be immortalized. Why do games feature high scores? Aside from having a goal to beat, it also broadcasts to everyone else that hey, somebody’s achieved this record, and we all get to see the initials of the person who did it. The save feature is actually a more complex form of this, as more details can be added, and results in a more unique calling card.
Breaking records wouldn’t perhaps be such a big deal if it weren’t publicized. Sure, you have a psychic victory, knowing that you accomplished this. You’re a hero, except only you knows it. You can brag about it, but not everyone would believe you. That’s why scoreboards are important, be it The Guinness Book of World Records, the high score on the local arcade machine, or the memory card you keep tucked in your pocket. I’m not saying this is everyone’s motivation for accomplishing something, but people feel appreciative whenever they’re remembered. To a certain extent, that’s also why some people get offended if you don’t remember their name.
Because mobile phones and text messaging (or email) are popular in this country, I often hear the statement “somebody loves me” whenever they receive a phone call or text message. That statement isn’t necessarily true every time you get a text message, but in the absence of love, most people will settle for being remembered.
Whenever I visit the poor and rural communities, some of the people there make one request from me. They’re not asking for money or goods, but to be merely remembered. Some of them ask me to write them letters, or to visit them some time. I never do. Instead, I honor them in my writing, with these stories of mine. I don’t always name them, but that doesn’t mean I don’t remember them. And perhaps the beauty of writing is that once it’s put down on paper, it’s forever there. No matter how much I’ll deny its existence, it’s proof to everyone else.
With each word I pen down, I immortalize myself and the subject I write about. There’s no guarantee that I’ll be remembered fondly, but writers can console themselves that they’ll be remembered at least.