Gaming & Grief
A few years ago I discovered video gaming. I mean like I never picked up console controller in my old life and suddenly here it was in my hand. I felt like that ape in 2001: A Space Odyssey. (Not very good then and still not) I even wrote a couple of posts at the other site here and here.
My premiss at that time was primarily about the community and friends who just accepted me the old new gamer who they had to backpack around cuz I was inept AF. I will add that being insecure about being old learning to game while playing in a world of kids and adults who have been gaming since forever of course I saw community because community addressed my grief isolation. And no one made fun of me, to my face.
Jason Coles writing in Eurogamer "How games can help to explore the many colours of grief". First, he hit each and every point about grief. All the ones all know. So well stated…
There are plenty of instances of anger, love, fear, and joy in video games, but there are far fewer instances of grief. Grief is complicated. It is simultaneously all-consuming and life-altering. No one goes through it and is the same at the end as they were before it. Grief can be black and heavy, dragging you down into its depths and trying to drown you. Grief can be grey and apathetic, sucking your soul out of you and refusing to give it back. Grief can also be white and blinding, sparking within you a rage that can be targeted at anyone, an anger that will try and immolate you from the inside out. I've felt so many different kinds of grief. Unfortunately I have lost a few people I care about. But none hit harder than losing my brother.
Of course he gets grief because he has faced it and continues to feel grief. He did not shut himself off from his grief. And he takes what he has experienced and feels seeing it while playing two games, Crossing Souls and Gris.
His analysis of these two games and grief is clear and spot on. Crossing Souls opened Coles grief receptors because one of the characters loses his younger brother. Coles lost his younger brother he knows grief when he sees it and can pull himself into to the game and grief to find nuggets of knowledge. That is why I believe our grief journeys are all different but share the same forks in the road, stops to learn, downpours of anger depression, sun, fear, joy, etc. When we look, be it a painting or game, we can find and discover new about us, Donna, and our grief.
When Coles presents the game Gris he breaks into something I never considered. Gris is about metaphors and alludes to emotions and events. He, like me, sees grief being a door opening to new understandings and knowledge. Unlike me he says
'When things are open to interpretation like this, what you experience is more of a reflection of yourself than anything else.'
I never thought about my grief as interpretation of my world and reflection of myself. I see it as discovery of me through grief but, the interpretation of the world, well that is a better way to say it. Coles also sees in Gris relapse. Those of us in grief know we fall back into it easily. We hear a song, see an image, look at a hair brush, etc. In Gris the first emotional relapse is a black bird…so perfect. Seriously read this.
Grief Is Not A Valueless Time Suck
"Importance of Grief" Is an opinion Article published in The Daily Journal by Jon Mays. It seems I found it last year and saved it. Where does the time go?
This quote sums the article up well.
Grief is a reminder that there is love and loss and connection and growth. As we move forward, it is an inevitability that we must carry with us in all of its forms, not as a burden but as a gift. Grief is evidence that life, with all of its messiness, has meaning and that we do too.
When Donna was diagnosed I began my grieving. In my thinking about grief there are two pieces. Never run from it or hide. Go after your grief so you can learn from it and embrace it. Yes it hurts but, knowledge and understand resides in our grief. Knowledge is power.
Second is the entire closure idea. Closure is a myth. Closure is indifference. Closure is denial said pretty. That is why our grief journey is important it keeps us from closing off love.
Happy Music Grief Thoughts
Vice had this article "How Happy Pop Music Makes a Sad Film Even Sadder" by Sarah MacDonald who writes for Noisey. I grabbed it to see how this works because I have come to realize that in my state of grief, music plays a critical role in some of my emotional responses. A song can play and I will remember Donna loved it, she sang it on trips to Maine, or it is song I never heard and the music & lyrics just reached in and push me toward tears. I have even created a Playlist on Spotify 'Love Letters to Donna' @saltypleiades.
Reading this piece I came away not finding what I thought I would but thinking about something new. The article closes with this…
Music supervisors are very good at thematically pairing tracks to scenes so you feel the intensity of the emotion or movement in the scene that much more. (It’s why any of us care so much about Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” from The O.C.’s second season finale or “Bittersweet Symphony” in Cruel Intentions, monolith sad pop tracks in pop culture.) But by shifting the tone of the song but keeping a devastating scene playing only serves to amplify how pop music is deeply sad and unbearable at times. If you’ve ever listened to “Happy” by Pharrell and desperately wept, you know this to be a truth.
"Pairing tracks to scenes" just says what it is like when you've suffered a loss, mourn, and grieve the intensity of that moment or thought is magnified by music. For example Miley Cyrus & Ariana Grande singing 'Don't Dream It's Over' I never knew that song existed until I stumbled on it about three years after Donna's death. Each and every time I hear it I get choked up, at the gym, on the subway, and home alone. It is because I am attuned to lyrics now and as MacDonald says 'it becomes a portrait of what could have been”. In grief we feel more acutely what could have been. I know I do.