Lately I've been completely immersed in the unreal. Well, take "unreal" as you will -- for me, worlds of the fantastical and the long past have always been more interesting and worth spending time in than the "real world," and in that sense feel more real to me than any ordinary earth existence could. So, in normal terms, lately I've been hanging around in some completely fake, made-of-pixels, fantasy worlds that are more fun to me than anything reality could offer. And it is glorious.
Most recently I've begun exploring the world of Mass Effect. This exploration immediately follows a full playthrough of Dragon Age: Origins and three playthroughs of Dragon Age 2, both of which take place in an epic fantasy pseudo-medieval world. So the transition from that to Mass Effect, a futuristic space fantasy (yes, I'd call it fantasy over sci fi, but that's debatable), was an abrupt one. That said, I'm finding myself completely at ease in this new world of high-speed transportation, slow elevators, and spaceships-as-cities. It was an immediate attraction, an almost drunken stagger of lust into this new world's arms, spurred primarily by the music on the game's main menu screen. From that moment, I knew this was going to be a beautiful foray into the truly spacey and fabulous.
Anyway, I digress -- kinda. This isn't a review of a game or anything; it's a review of the feelings that arise when I game. I feel wrong just calling it "gaming," because it's always more than that for me (well, sometimes it is just about gaming, when playing Tetris or Peggle for example, but it's actually impossible for those games to be much more than colorful shapes and balls bouncing around)-- it's an immersion into a story, another world, where the life of another person (or persons) becomes my own. Their history becomes my history, their worries are taken on as my own, and their life goals become as important to me as if they were part of my earth-bound existence.
When I was younger, around my early teen years, it seemed like everything I indulged in -- be it books, movies, games, or tv shows -- spoke to me on a deep emotional level, something that can't be described in words, especially not on this blog such as it is. Most of my favorite books of all time were read while I was a young teenager, books that could never impact me now the way they impacted me then. So when I discover something now that can affect me even a fraction as acutely as books and stories used to when I was younger, it means the world to me. That's one of the reasons I love Doctor Who so much, because it reaches me on a fundamental level that very few things reach in me these days. I really miss that feeling, the feeling that everything I took in meant something and would always mean something, and I feel like I've spent my life looking for the thing that will give that feeling to me, again and again, without diminishing returns. The Lord of the Rings is one of the things that makes me cry every time I read it or watch the movies, because I remember what it was like to feel it so deeply in my bones that it hurt. Nothing ever affects me like that story, and I doubt anything ever will.
What I love about Mass Effect, then, from literally like... the hour I've spent playing (I just started!), is that it appeals to the part of me that feels things like younger Meg used to feel. The music, Citadel, the fantastic space opera-ness of it all... it's magic. It makes me feel wonder again, like I'm about to embark on an epic adventure into the unknown. It excites me. And while that adventure may not be "real," by the definition of the term, it feels more real to me than anything I can touch in the physical world. So for me, it's real enough.