The Sims guide to awakening from the dream of “me”

Machinima is a style of film making whereby video game footage is captured and edited to create a new story. It’s an amusing form of storytelling that appropriates one genre of entertainment to create another.

One of Machinima’s most popular creations is the long running Red vs Blue. The footage — captured from the game Halo — uses professional actors to voice the story of soldiers caught up in perpetual war.  Neither side remembers how the conflict started and skirmishes regularly disintegrate into petty argument and confusion. The key characters of both sides are in turn philosophical, stupid, funny and reflective.

Similarly, there is a great Machinima piece — captured from The Sims 2 — called The Awakening. A character named Alan explains to his friend that their world makes little sense. He goes outside his front door and quickly establishes that there is no traffic, people or signs of life anywhere yet when he rings the fire department they instantly appear and say the same thing to him each time they return. He orders a pizza which is delivered instantly and asks his friend how this is possible given that there is still no traffic or activity outside the front door. He then ponders how he can read the minds of other Sims characters and concludes their world must be artificial.

As the audience, we know his world merely exists within a game and that he is being manipulated.

And that is how our lives can feel as well. Is our world artificial too?

Much like Alan in The Sims, we have moments of clarity and question the nature of reality. Tony Parsons, author of The Open Secret, also refers to this clarity as “awakening”, and says that it is characterised by a sudden realisation that our sense of self is merely a dream with no link to reality at all.

Most of us journey through life finding solace in religion, entertainment or drugs to relieve us of the burden that the world is inexplicable.

Yet, there is great comfort in knowing that there is no such thing as the individual self and that our sense of “me” is no more than a combination of memories, cultural conditioning and physiological responses.

All of which mean nothing.

Unlike Alan, I know how my pizza gets delivered.

I just accept I don’t know anything else.

Related Post:
How to have a better life: It’s Sim-ple

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About the author

Sue Bell is an entertainment writer and author of Backpacked: A mostly true story, Beat Street and When Dreamworks came to Stanley.


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