The Sub-Creation

Posted on February 20, 2011

I wrote this on July 15th and, for some reason, never posted it. Enjoy.

I really love my wife. Like, really.

Yesterday evening we ran the Pi Mile at Tech, as we try to do at least once a week. It was a really good run by our terms: we actually ran all except for a flat .17 mile stretch near the middle, we felt totally whipped when we finished, and we’re in pain this morning. Nothing held us back save lack of oxygen on North Avenue and some side stitches. Being able to run together and spur each other on is really awesome. After our run we returned home and had an easy dinner of chicken salad… anyways, this is supposed to be about pillow talk.

We spent the latter part of our evening reading the first installment of the Lord of the Rings (Lori) and playing the second installment of Mass Effect (me). I regret not playing the original Mass Effect first now that I’m getting into ME2, but I’m certainly not stopping now. I realized that both of these activities boil down to engaging in, being edified by, and enjoying alternate realities (or sub-creations, as I’m fond of calling them). Lori presented the idea of a sub-creation to me a while back during a discussion on the merits of video games and it certainly opened my mind about what a video game can be and do. I’ve been jaded for a while after playing World of Warcraft for over a year: I got to the point where I insisted that I was wasting my time altogether and there was no real merit in playing the game. While it’s true WoW turned into a too-serious hobby for me, I certainly don’t believe it is without merit. Blizzard has created an astonishing world in Azeroth (the world of WoW, yes) and exploring it, discovering it, and conquering it is challenging in a fairly unique way. Azeroth reflects the glory of the creation we live in and, therefore, its Creator.

Mass Effect also does this effectively but it is a far more philosophical experience. I’m finding that this particular sub-creation is deeply concerned with people. The lore builds on strange beliefs, differences between alien races, mistakes on a cosmic level, and deep grievances. I initially expected to be bored by the extensive (and excellent) dialog found throughout the game and separating the (also excellent) firefights. Far from being bored, I’m being sucked in by the believability of the characters and the newness of their situations, opinions, vendettas, etc. I’m certain that when I’ve completed the game multiple times I’ll still be left wishing for more,* but that’s by no fault of the game.

Suffice to say, I’m beginning to discover the merit and joy to be found in the sub-creation.

*Fortunately, there will be a Mass Effect 3!