In the previous post I mentioned “The Most Human Human” book. It has a small section with the same title as this post. Here goes the quote followed by my thoughts.
The word “game” is a notoriously hard one to define. But allow me to venture a definition: a game is a situation in which an explicit and agreed-upon definition of success exists.
In real life, and this cuts straight back to the existence/essence notion of Sartre’s, there is no notion of success. If success is having the most Facebook friends, then your social life becomes a game. If success is gaining admittance to heaven upon death, then your moral life becomes a game. Life is no game. There is no checkered flag, no goal line.
Games have a goal; life doesn’t. Life has no objective. This is what the existentialists call the “anxiety of freedom.” Thus we have an alternate definition of what a game is—anything that provides temporary relief from existential anxiety. This is why games are such a popular form of procrastination. And this is why, on reaching one’s goals, the risk is that the reentry of existential anxiety hits you even before the thrill of victory— that you’re thrown immediately back on the uncomfortable question of what to do with your life.
I don’t buy this. Most basically, a game is a process with one objective: keep playing. Another breath, another meal, more water, and some sleep. Why these are in the author’s “blind spot”? Such a loss for the anxiety narrative: the “anxiety of zero freedom” due to impossibility to cease breathing and still keep playing, for example. Also there are “mental gym” games like Pathologic 2. If they provide any relief, that is mostly by emphasizing that your life is not like this right now.
Everyone plays their own game of life: a casual arcade, a survival horror, boring, incomprehensibly intricate. Have an “uncomfortable question of what to do with your life”? The probably-unreachable-within-a-lifetime goals to the rescue! Maybe another psychedelic renaissance and global peace?