I’ve been playing a lot of Minecraft lately. Exploring its complex, primal, randomly-generated environments has helped me to firm up an intuition about games and religion—at least my religion—that I’ve been toying with for years.
Hymns to the Kite God
When I was eleven I saw the film The Dark Crystal. My mother took me on a Friday during the Christmas holidays. I had looked forward to it for months. I saw it and loved it.
The movie haunted my thoughts all the next day—the long-legged striders, the magic, the music. I went back two days later with a friend.
When I came out the second time something had changed inside me. As we rode home in the car my friend chattered away, but I barked at him and leaned my head on the window and felt something dying in my heart. We didn’t play anymore after that.
I lay on my bed until nightfall, gritting my teeth against a pain I couldn’t describe. One by one, my sisters, mother, and father came in and asked me what was wrong. I tried to put words to feelings deeper than words.
The world disappointed me. I wanted a new world, full of excitement and power and possibility. My father pointed out that our world had wonder and adventure of its own—knights and Indians and canyons and caves. I felt sick as he said it. These wonders were too small, too mundane. Is this all the world had to offer? My family left me alone. I writhed away the night.
Something new moved in that day. I didn’t know what to call it; I still don’t. Was it depression? Depression is too gentle a word. The other day I heard a girl say she felt depressed about her shoes. No, this thing wasn’t depression. This was a dark and ancient god moving into my ribcage, playing with me like a cat plays with a mouse, making a kite from my skin and tendons and bones and flying me from the bottom of the sea.