As of Friday I have been granted a temporary reprieve from the academic burdens of my vocational discernment. This gives me an opportunity to focus on my emotional, physical, and spiritual obligations, especially those that I've neglected over the second half of the semester, this blog included.
Despite the new game releases that accompany each Christmas season, I haven't interest in any of them save Chrono Trigger DS, which I'll hopefully get as a Christmas gift. Soul Calibur IV has proven to be surprisingly popular with my brother seminarians, and while I can't say that the game possesses any particularly endearing value beyond sheer entertainment of the absurd (who wouldn't want to see Yoda fighting an Elvis look-alike with nunchaku?), that alone has been a welcome respite from the strenuous workload that too often characterizes college life.
Since I've been back home, I've rediscovered that I have the Pokemon gene - embarassed as I am to admit it, I can totally understand why the game has been so successful and popular. Organizing a team of virtual critters to fight and trade with friends makes for an undeniably fun game. This game and Pope Benedict XVI's Spirit of the Liturgy will ensure that my living room sofa is occupied for long stretches of time for this 3 and a half weeks of Christmas vacation. The book is certainly a bit on the "heavy" side - I find myself re-reading passages just to glean everything I can from the text - but my gaming hobby and Spirit of the Liturgy are proving to be far more complementary than I would have ever thought they would or could be. Being a video gamer, the "play" theory of liturgy (though Pope Benedict does ultimately deem it as "insufficient") resonates deeply with me. The idea of play being an excape from the confines of the world is an idea that many video games take and "run with," so to speak, but in the end, it ultimately becomes just another part of the world we live in, as the rules and confines established by the game transform the game from being "another world - a counter-world or a non-world - to being a bit of our world with its own laws." Games provide a fleeting escape from reality at best; they can't transport us to our higher calling, even if they can indirectly help us on our way there. It's a good reminder for video game enthusiasts (including yours truly) not to let these games become idols - they aren't the Savior whom we await during the Advent season, and we certainly can't offer ourselves to them expecting any sort of true fulfillment.
That's not to say that games don't provide something of value - Aquinas, for one, echoed Aristotle's thoughts that the relaxation from games provided a good - but in the age where many (myself included) spend inexorbinant amounts of time with video games, Pope Benedict's reminder is one worth noting.