Monday, August 2, 2010
"As cliché as it sounds, I believe that travel is a metaphor for, and microcosm of, life itself, and that therein lies its value. It's about the exotic, but also about the commonplace; about the new, but also about the old; about seeing and discovering, but also about listening and waiting; about coming into contact with the other and being changed, but also about finding constancy. Always it is about coming to know the world better, and myself." -Jordan Magnuson, "The Journey"
If, as Marvin Olasky suggests, social justice is created from millions of individual acts of relational justice, then maybe global understanding is created from combining millions of moments of individual understanding. Of one person stepping out of his or her comfort zone to encounter the Other.
And encountering the Other is exactly what game designer, Jordan Magnuson, hopes to do. Travel the world, and create computer games (or notgames) about what he sees and experiences. About how he is impacted.
This is something he has already done -- very effectively, I believe -- with such games as Freedom Bridge, inspired by his two years spent living in South Korea. But now he wants to do it on a wider scale, and is asking for your support.
Now, there are many, many reasons that this excites me, but I'm going to share two of them. One, as I have stated elsewhere, I believe in creativity. I believe that creation is, perhaps, the single greatest weapon we have against destruction -- against war, and hatred, and violence. Pacifism is powerful because it requires creative resistance. It requires humanity in the place of barbarism.
I believe that the creative process, even when it isn't used to convey explicitly peace-related themes, helps us retain our humanity and draws us together in community -- the broad community that binds us together as beings who long to communicate, create beauty, and make meaning, and the more specific community of those who have shared a specific experience, whether that experience involves looking at a van Gogh, attending an opera, or playing a computer game. Art binds us together.
Which is why kickstarter (an online site that allows you to contribute directly to creative projects) is so exciting to me. Not only can you be involved in the process of experiencing art, you can actually help create it. You can enable individuals to share their creative visions with you, and with the world.
So I am excited about Game Trekking because it's creative. But I'm also excited about the specific way in which it is creative. I'm excited that it's a project dedicated to encountering and understanding the unknown. I'm excited that Magnuson will have the opportunity to see and listen, to explore and ponder, to change and be changed. I believe that, in itself, is priceless. But it doesn't stop there. What I'm really excited about is that Magnuson, being the artist that he is, will then be able to share those experiences with us. Share them in a way that is deeply impactful, using a medium, travel gaming, that has never been used before.
Now, I will admit that I'm a bit biased when it comes to this particular project, gamemaker, and person. After all, he's one of my favorite people, one of my favorite artists, and one of my favorite thinkers. I find his ideas compelling and his conviction inspiring. He's one of the very few people who has the power, in a 60 minute conversation, to actually change my perspective on a topic, and broaden my worldview.
Magnuson is a person of integrity, living and creating out of a strong sense of necessity, compassion, and humility. So when I tell you that his creative contribution can actually impact the world, I truly, wholeheartedly believe it.
"I want to travel around the world and communicate the things I experience. To help me understand the world better, and maybe, just maybe, to help increase understanding in a broader context. Perhaps that's arrogance, but for me it's hope."
So what are you waiting for? Become a backer. Because choosing peace, creativity, and understanding, even on the small scale, is always a good thing.