I came across a fascinating article by Vice’s website about a rather strange video game: “Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor.” Unlike every other game that propels you into a fantasy world, “Diaries” is very much real, maybe even too real. While it takes place in a fictitious world full of weird species and spaceships, the challenges are very relatable. Maybe even too relatable. You play out the seemingly mundane, sometimes stressful, practices of everyday life. Instead of positioning you as a hero or heroine, imbued with superpowers and rewarded for achieving the seemingly impossible, e.g., slaying the dragon, gunning down hordes or bad guys, throwing the longest football pass EVER, etc., this game celebrates the anti-hero and the “anti-adventure.” In “Diaries” one must deal with the harshness of a dead end job as a janitor, the desire to escape one’s daily predicament — if only there were enough money saved up to do so, and getting robbed on the way home after a long day. There are certainly tests and tribulations but they mirror those in so many of our daily lives.
What is the allure you may ask? Why would someone play this? I can see why it would begun to try it “it out” for the novelty of it. But who wants to relive our lives, especially the boring or frustrating parts of it?
But I get it.
And I just spoke about a related notion last week in Milan, Italy at the If Italians Festival for the creative advertising industry. Among the various insights I shared, I spoke about why we love to upload, download and share the mundane stuff of everyday life. When we can have access to so many images of fine artwork via the Internet, why do we spend so much time look at sunsets, our dogs doing something funny or our dinners? These pictures are not crappy by any means. Many are often well shot or juxtaposed to offer us a new perspective on these everyday things. But still, who cares?
WE ALL DO … and it’s deep.
Throughout history we have always tried to see the beautiful in the mundane. We crave it. Marcel Proust talks about this. And Ancient religions, authors, and playwright have been doing this since the beginning of time. Turning the everyday into the beautiful allows us to feel like our daily lives aren’t boring, wasteful or downright sad, but rather, beautiful, exciting, and magnificent. We desperately need this.
This game may not satisfy our hero fantasies but it fulfills something else deeply fundamental: it allows us to see the beauty in the routine. As the article states so well, this game “find(s) such beauty in the banality of a truly awful job.” In the ever-changing, dynamic world we live in, so many of us are looking for new new thing — the new job, new house, new mate. But sometimes there’s beauty in consistency, in the every day trials and tribulations, and being able to know what’s coming next. We just have to recognize it and appreciate it.
Oh, and for those of us who travel by subway everyday, consistency is the ultimate fantasy come true! LOL 🙂