Video Games as Spiritual Activity

If we are in a general way permitted to regard human activity in the realm of the beautiful as a liberation of the soul, as a release from constraint and restriction, in short to consider that art does actually alleviate the most overpowering and tragic catastrophes by means of the creations it offers to our contemplation and enjoyment, it is the art of music which conducts us to the final summit of that ascent to freedom.

– Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

I’ve seen it in the passionate music and epic stories of Final Fantasy. I’ve seen it in the comradery of split-screen deathmatches in Goldeneye. I’ve seen it in the power struggles and great friendships of the silent Tibia. Hell, I’ve seen it in Guitar Hero. Playing (and creating) video games, in a similar sense to listening to (and creating) music, can be a unique way of letting the physical dissolve and allowing the spirit to flourish. It can show us who we are and what we are about on the most fundamental level.

In the world-historical sense, playing video games and skateboarding are utterly absurd activities. In a more subjective and, dare I say, eternal sense they can show us a glimpse of what it means to be human and how the human spirit transcends the purely physical.

How Video Games Satisfy Basic Human Needs

We must become so alone, so utterly alone, that we withdraw into our innermost self. It is a way of bitter suffering. But then our solitude is overcome, we are no longer alone, for we find that our innermost self is the spirit, that it is God, the indivisible. And suddenly we find ourselves in the midst of the world, yet undisturbed by its multiplicity, for our innermost soul we know ourselves to be one with all being.

– Hermann Hesse

This is love. I have my self-consciousness not in myself but in the other. I am satisfied and have peace with myself only in this other and I AM only because I have peace with myself; if I did not have it then I would be a contradiction that falls to pieces. This other, because it likewise exists outside itself, has its self-consciousness only in me; and both the other and I are only this consciousness of being-outside-ourselves and of our identity; we are only this intuition, feeling, and knowledge of our unity. This is love, and without knowing that love is both a distinguishing and the sublation of this distinction, one speaks emptily of it.

– Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

This is the eternal origin of art that a human being confronts a form that wants to become a work through him. Not a figment of his soul but something that appears to the soul and demands the soul’s creative power. What is required is a deed that a man does with his whole being.

– Martin Buber

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