Sunday, August 04, 2013

Unfinished Swan

Here’s a really neat little game with a great premise and unique mechanics.  The first levels are completely white.  No shadows to define your environment.  So you toss blobs of paint around and they splatter like ink balloons allowing you to make out the environment.  It’s a beautiful subversion of the traditional first person shooter, where you explore and create rather than kill and destroy with your shots.  But it triggered an interesting metaphor that relates to a frustration I’ve encountered over the past several years as I’ve been delving deeper and deeper into epistemology, theology and other hefty subjects.  In Unfinished Swan there is a balance you need to achieve to best understand the environment in order to navigate.  Too little paint and you are left with vast areas of empty white.  But too much paint and things get so obscured in dense blackness that you can become just as lost.  I’ve found this to be the case with philosophy.  Most people don’t care enough about philosophy to throw more than a blob or two at the wall, and that’s all they need to comfortably lead their lives.  The paint is like definitions.  What is justice?  What is morality?  What defines ‘ought’ or ‘is’? etc.  Start throwing paint at these words and you find new revelations around every corner.  You start exploring down the corridors of your soul, discovering unexamined presuppositions and finding that when you start poking at them a lot of them don’t hold up to scrutiny.  (Well, that was MY experience anyway.)  It’s exhilarating stuff for those with a philosophically curious bent. Then comes the balance.  I found that once I had to define the words that defined the words that defined the words that... ad infinitum...  Yeah, it becomes a black inky mess.  In an attempt to reach clarity on any issue I found the limits of my own mind.  And limits are frustrating.  I’ve painted the front, sides, back, underneath, and inside of every surface I could.  And now I can’t see anything.  This is why my epistemology is what it is.  It’s why I can’t make any positive truth claims.  An interesting conundrum.  I don’t know of any way to wash the ink off to reset the level.