Without tarot to draw, tea leaves to swirl, crystals to tune, bones to cast, or ants to observe, this summer I turned to video games for divination. I watched between the static of late-night TV, chatted with hitch-hikers, listened to a mountain, sought forest spirits, and even consulted an oracle.
I don’t believe tarot, crystals, horoscopes, and all those other rituals are supernatural, but I do believe they can help us. I believe firmly in the magical power of having a good think about what you’re up to. It’s the best tool I have to tweak the only thing I have any vague control over in this topsy-turvy, up-and-down world–my own mind. When we sift through those messes of symbols and read meaning into their vagueness, we find what we’re thinking and what we want to see. If we know we’re only seeing ourself, we can use them as focuses to discover what exactly we’re reflecting.
Dreamy games can work the same way, I discovered during a difficult period this summer. I was sleeping too little, drinking too much (that’s one for all you playing the Alice Drinking Game), and generally a bit moony. I couldn’t think clearly about problems, or perhaps didn’t want to. But playing certain games, I realised they were helping me quietly and safely feel out the edges.
At the time my Mountain mused “I feel super chill inside this beautiful day”, I certainly didn’t. But why not? Looking out my window, I noticed it was actually a beautiful day. I found a few seconds of gazing and reflection let me catch my breath and get a handle on those thoughts. Then I felt super chill inside that beautiful day. Whether I shared the Mountain’s feelings–happiness, anxiety, disquiet, joy, tranquility, excitement, acceptance, fear, you know, all those emotions mountains experience–or not, every few minutes it encouraged me to look at myself, drawing comparisons and striking contrasts between our thoughts. When my Mountain wondered “Maybe I am alone because I am not good”, I realised I had dropped that long-held belief at some point.
2:22am was more like a trance. It presents brief flashes of nightmares, blurred video, and scenes of daily mundanities with dreams creeping in round the edges. One second I’m gazing into an empty fridge, then I’m running through an empty city. Often playing not far off 2:22am, I found its blast of symbols and repetition helped bridge the gap between what I was doing in my bleary late night daze and what I was thinking. It’s dipping into someone else’s dreams.
Heartwood was made by a good friend. I will always see her in it, and our friendship, our parallel and diverging lives, secrets shared, and other intimate direct connections to my thoughts that you won’t find. You will still get to wander around a spooky wood, though, and chase totemic animals. I find woods magical places where imagination and reality easily blur. Useful, that, at times like these.
Oracle was the most overtly prophetic. It spits out procedural prophecies and visions: talk of fog, ashes, promises, and bones accompanied by scenes of temples, wells, wheels, eyes, and monoliths. They’re symbols and icons we understand have some vague meaning or implications but are thrown together in a way encouraging us to create our own. Like tarot readings, they can mean as much or as little as we please, but what’s important is we realise these are spun out of our own thoughts.
That gorgeous fire is perfect for gazing into as you think, too.
Glitchhikers, on the other hand, is very much someone else’s thoughts. Like Mountains made flesh, its hitch-hikers hold vague, moony, and slightly existential conversation as we drift down a dark highway. Again, it’s all for our benefit, all beliefs for us to think through, try on, adopt, or discard.
I hadn’t consciously tried to find games to help me think through my block, but these did. They worked because they were vague. They threw out symbols and ideas for me to turn over, try to understand, then shape into my own thoughts. They didn’t offer answers, instead inspiring me to ask myself questions. They let me make ideas my own, helping uncover ways into thoughts I had struggled to open. Should you find yourself troubled late one night, perhaps you might give dreamy games a go too? These all are either free or cost a pound or so at most. It’ll probably work as well as you believe it will. These things often do.