“Moreover, I said, you must not wonder that those who attain to this beatific vision are unwilling to descend to human affairs; for their soul are ever hastening into the upper world where they desire to dwell; which desire of theirs is very natural, if our allegory may be trusted.”
Plato, The Republic: Book VII

In a world where the only thing you know to be real is that nothing in that world is true, when do you start to lose sight of reality? Maybe it’s the moment where you delve into a game programmed to be a part of another game. It could also be when you kill a man in one game, and still see him in the next game.

Though it’s probably when the man you’ve been playing all of these games with turns to you and mentions that his real endgame was your death. The death that so many fellow gamers have been seeking since you first slipped into the virtual reality of the gaming world.

Plato offers an allegory of a cave, where a group of prisoners have been imprisoned since birth, where the only thing they know to be real is the shadows cast along the wall for they are unable to look at those who pass in front of the cave. Their reality has been carved from what they have rationalized to be real based on the reflections of the world cast on a stone wall in the form of shadows. To be able to make out shadows in the darkness – is that not a false reality because the darkness in which they have been imprisoned encompasses them? Their reality lies within the darkness.

One prisoner is released and set out in the world that is the true reality – he adjusts to this strange new world slowly, misled and misinformed about the things that he can see. The shadows are merely reflections, slats of darkness where the visible thing blocks out the light of the sun that illuminates this real world within his eyes. Is that not reminiscent of the filter cast upon the world by the reality of games?

There is solace to be found when you slay a man within a game – for he is not real and there is no guilt to be found. But how do you know this to be true? Do you know that you have not become disillusioned so that everything you see is merely a figment of your imagination, that your reality is not a fallacy within itself?

The reality of eXistenZ was the false reality of tranCendenZ. And tranCendenZ was the false reality of the “real” reality. Or was it?

That’s a question for you to answer, based on your perception of reality.

Word Count: 460



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