The magic of real memories created in fake worlds

Considering the worlds within games, the experiences games can give us, and the unique, new kind of memories we can draw from them

I grew up in a really small town, and I think that is a part of what got me so interested in the worlds that exist within games from a young age. Being somewhat isolated made me really apprecaite the adventures I could go on within games. Though I didn’t hate growing up in the middle of nowhere, I was looking for ways to see more, do more, and be more.

Millions of people are more isolated now than they’re used to, and that’s why they’re looking for new ways to have experiences, just like I did when I was a kid. People are looking for ways to experience adventure while at home, so naturally videogame sales have gone way up. Nintendo sold more than double the number of consoles in March 2020 than they did in March 2019.

This is what’s got me thinking about the worlds within games, the experiences games can give us, and the unique, new kind of memories we can draw from them.

Though similar to starting to read a new book or watching a new movie, the experience of booting up a game is enhanced in my opinion. When you boot up a new game, that’s a world you inhabit. Just like the real world, games are worlds you can explore at your own pace, go on adventures: fall in love, experience loss, gain power, and lose everything within. As time passes you become familiar with these worlds, just like the real world.

The profound thing about these worlds is that they’re created — from scratch — by other humans. How incredible is that. Now, for the first time in human history (aka millions of years), we can now create our own worlds, and share them with each other. These new worlds are unbound by the laws and physics of the real world.

Game developers are the god of their worlds, they make all the rules. Real people spend years of their lives painstakingly creating every single part of these worlds with nothing but their computers. And it’s worth it, because once they’re finished, they can share their new worlds with us.

A game world is not a solitary world like ours is. Game worlds are an interesting kind of shared world where each of us gets to experience it as the protagonist. This world was made for you. But at the same time, everyone else who has purchased the game gets to experience it in their own way, and create their own memories. And sadly, those who don’t play don’t get to have those experiences and thus, take part in these new shared memories.

It’s so easy to forget that games have only really been around for the last 30–40 years. That’s approximately two generations out of the thousands of generations of humans that get to jump into imaginary worlds. Now, for the first time in human history, we can create a world — any type of world we wish — and create memories of real experiences for others.

These are a new and contemporary type of memory, because after all games don’t actually exist in the real world. All they are is just a machine doing some weird things with electricity.

Games are essentially a computer crunching numbers and then outputting a stream of electricity to a screen which in turn flashes thousands or millions of pixels different colours 60 times per second. To the computer, games are meaningless. The computer is just following directions, but hand a human the controller and have them look at the screen with their eyes, and boom: it’s a real world that they get to go into, become a new person, and create memories. It’s through our human senses that we are able to see what’s happening in front of us, control it, extract meaning, and create memories.

Games are the illusion of a world, but the memories they create for us are just as real as something we can experience in the real world. Like i said earlier, these worlds do not exist. They exist only within the minds of humans.

It’s something that I consider myself to be grateful for, that I get to be alive during this time. Games are something to treasure and something to be thankful for because we get to do things in them that would be impossible in the real world.

What do you think?

What are your favourite memories have you created within a game world? Do you also think it’s profound how humans now have the ability to create new memories for others using games as a medium? Or am I just overthinking it? Lol

Let me know by leaving a comment, or let me know on twitter.

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Designer, writer, and illustrator from Vancouver. → garycolwell.net

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