I’ve come across the theory before. Perhaps we are all unreal in the most real sense. Could we be a never ending game? Is life as we know it actually not actually life at all? Confused yet? That’s how I felt the first several times I encountered the entire impossible possibility. Then I read
this article a little while ago.

There’s something there that intrigues me, even as it totally weirds me out. My mind sort of screams like a little girl and wonders where the nearest Game Over exit might be. Images from The Matrix parade through my head, followed closely by eXistenZ’s ending. Movies like this fascinate me, partly because they subtley scare me. What if, what if, what if….

That other part of my mind…the part that creeps back into the what if pool, after trying to run away screaming…the writer part…that bold and curious part gloms onto the bit in the article about how sucky our lives are for something that’s created. That’s where my muse pricks up its ears and dives in headfirst.

Aren’t we as writers told and told and told to ratchet up the conflict, the pain, the outright emotional torture of our characters? Make them suffer and watch that character growth happen before our very eyes. Agitate the ink until it starts churning out angst so terrible that you must hold your breath, waiting to see if these characters you’ve created can keep on walking through the circumstances of their miserable existences. You know, the miserable existences that contain pockets of pure joy. Make them real. Make them hurt. Make them go through the crucible and emerge triumphant! Give them success and failure, until they cry tears of happiness and pain. Then let them have a good life…but only for a while.

Sound familiar?

Yeah. To me too. If writers do it right, we create people so real that readers identify with them to the point of feeling what they feel. Maybe the creators of our game are a higher level of writers, screenwriters, game developers. Maybe they’re the future us. Maybe they’re aliens. Maybe they don’t exist at all.

Does it really matter? I’ve pondered this here before. It doesn’t matter if the theory is correct. It doesn’t even matter that it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we have the intelligence and curiosity to ponder such a concept at all. That a lot of us are able to stop the initial mental running away screaming and creep back into the what if pool is the way, way coolest part. Even if it were true we’d most likely never know it. After all, the veil between writer and reader remains intact in our own creations. When one of my characters steps off the page to confront me about the state of their affairs, then it will be time to worry.

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