There was a long gap of time between the first time I played Banjo-Kazooie as a child (intermittently, at my cousins’ house) and when I played it to completion as an adult.
I could say a lot of things about how my older self wasn’t nearly as enthralled by the whole thing, having far too much experience in gaming and in life. And how utterly enchanting the very space of the game and the challenge of jumping was, back when I was about 9 years old.
But today I will give you one example of how a video game illustrates my little philosophical breakthrough rather well.
To put it simply, you are given allowed to witness the beautiful device with which a world that you visit very late into the game shall be unlocked. Unlike most of these paintings, in which you must insert the puzzle pieces that you have been collecting so strenuously, this one does not appear relatively close to the level it unlocks, nor does it appear at a time in which you are likely to have the items to complete the collecting ritual with.
The lovely world known as Click Clock Wood is presented to you far before can you enter it, or even see it. The area around the platform where the jiggie-insertion-allowing-tablet shall be manifested is a preview of what’s to come, but you cannot directly witness an image of the sprawling zone.
As you dream of what such a setting does entail, how to access it, how hard it will be to complete, whether or not you might even find it, and the accomplishments of the you in the future, a sense of awe and wonder is marinated very much.
Yes indeed, this, more or less, the lovely land which you must explore to truly finish the video game that you eagerly purchased for your innovative new Nintendo 64. The payoff really is worth it….I mean, the “four versions of the level for each season” mechanic is done just as beautifully as even with with no gaming experience might expect. Your achievements in one season carry over to a later season, and you can sink in the warm melancholies of the passage of time in a virtual space, that by the standards of pre-2000, was absolutely opulent.
But I have something to add…not something large. And that is this.
The sense of magic and mystery you get from aching to find that forbidden setting, when only being given a preview of it in a cozy intimate room inside that game,
produces a spark in you, and that comes from seeing things be both connected and disconnected in a fabulous sort of way.
There’s just something that the oddness of the final level of the game having its proverbial keyhole so very far away produces within a gamer.
That magic of connected disconnection is at the heart of nearly anything that a person would possess bewildering admiration for.
That bewilderment for the disconnected and connected stimulates the urge to explore an unfamiliar place, to craft experiences within a new setting.
As you daydream of such a place, your heart seems to swoon, with melancholy and joy, with feelings of past becoming future, irritation and appreciation, even shame for feeling such as urge to move forward, and modesty knowing that
this is the type of “hunting” that has been handed to you an a silver platter.
And as such, relieves the urge to make mischief as you could not in the social hells of early childhood.
People go too far when they hold back, and when they hold back, they still go too far.
And sometimes we just want to do it in a space with no real consequences.
I guess that’s….part of why I don’t get that much dopamine from Banjo-Kazooie anymore.
Aside from being good at jumping well,
I became someone that wanted to badly to get my hunter’s high where consequences really mattered, and I could unlock things inside of people, rather than cartridges.
But sometimes, you’ve just got to sit on the floor of a giant tree, lie down, and let the leaves take you over.
Become more like who you were before you could get anyone to play games involving appreciation or respect.
Sink deep into a woodland dream.
Hunt for something real another time.
Find your wicked witches to shoot eggs at when you’ve collected all the things within the wood.
For time is bound to pass.