Daily Think: Totality

People like talking about things like Freedom and Originality. Things that aren’t TOTALLY free or TOTALLY original, though, often get dinged for not being this way.

That’s kinda stupid.

Look, did Frank Lloyd Wright reinvent the basic room archetypes of door, window, wall, floor, and ceiling to create those totally sweet houses that he designed? No. He didn’t. Did William Shakespeare reinvent the mechanics of the English language in order to tell his amazing stories? Again, nope. What about Francis Ford Coppola? Did he reinvent film technique in order to direct Apocalypse Now or The Godfather? Uh-uh.

Nothing is TOTALLY original. Once you write about a thing that has existed, using words that have existed, you’ve stopped being completely original. If you tell a tale about a cat who is a detective but also a ghost, and that story’s never been told before, you’re still not being totally original. But you ARE being original.

That’s fine!

Freedom’s the same way. If you walk into a store and ask for pickle and telephone ice cream, and they turn you down, BAM, FREEDOM DENIED. You can never be totally free. You still have to make sure you eat, sleep, and have shelter to keep on living in life. Sometimes, you’re forced to do things that you don’t want to do. Maybe you have to pay the bank a bill in order to keep on living in your house. Maybe you can’t murder that guy’s dog that barks annoyingly when you’re trying to sleep because there are laws against it. Maybe you can’t leave a maze you’re in because you’re just not strong enough to walk through concrete walls.

You’re not a god, perfect and all-powerful, you’re you, a person bound by a ton of rules and the decisions of other people.

So when a game comes out and it claims to be original or offer freedom, why not really evaluate it? Maybe it’s a tale of a thief (not original) in a bleak, rainy city (crime noir), waiting for an asteroid to wipe out all life on earth (again, not particularly original). The elements, taken by themselves, aren’t original, but put together… well, I’ve never heard of a story like that. I’d be quite interested in checking one out if it existed. Maybe it’s a game that, like Deus Ex: Human Revolution, sends you off on missions around the world, but there are a few times when it takes your freedom away. Does that mean that the game doesn’t offer freedom? Don’t be absurd. Sometimes, in real life, we’re put in situations where we must do one and only one thing to get out of that situation.

What’s important is that that lack of freedom makes SENSE. In Human Revolution, being compromised by a flirty Asian woman you’ve come to kill doesn’t make much sense. Being trapped in a room with a man who has an arm that is also a gatling gun, on the other hand, makes perfect sense. Freedom doesn’t matter unless someone takes it away, but that’s a talk I’ll save for later.

Don’t call a game bad because it’s not 100% original or 100% free. That’s stupid, and you will never, ever find something that truly offers those things to you.

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