After taking a little time to do more exploring through the clustered mess that is Steam, I discovered more about their catalog. Last week I posted a devotional called “Accept No Substitutes” which explored the problem with counterfeits to the Christian faith. I also touched on games that were a blatant rip-off of their source material, and looking through Steam I discovered that I might have been a little harsh on these titles. I can see that there is a fine line between copying a work of art and being inspired by it, and most games on the market today draw their inspiration from another title that has long been on the shelves. Just when you think that you are playing a new and unique game, all of a sudden you run across something that looks like a goomba. Is there nothing that is free from creative piracy? Has every last novel idea been absorbed by uncreative slackers? No…they haven’t, because there really is “nothing new under the sun.”
I would like to think that I came up with that quote, but I did not. Actually, someone who was far wiser than me coined it almost 3000 years ago. His name was Solomon, and he was a great king who acquired great wealth and status through being the wisest man who ever lived. Even God Himself stated that no one could even hold a candle to this man’s brilliance. With all of his wisdom, he was able to live a long and luxurious life, but he would later recount all his feats as being “vanity.”
The book of Ecclesiastes is where we get to see King Solomon looking back on his success for what it really was…nothing. He looks at everything that he created and acquired, and in the end, he simply said that all of those things were a “pursuit to inherit the wind.” According to the Bible, Solomon had acquired 666 talents of gold, that is 20 tons of gold (18,245 kg for my metric friends). With everything that Solomon owned, by today’s standards, he wouldn’t be a billionaire…he would be a trillionaire. On top of that, Solomon was never lonely; how could he be with 700 wives and 300 concubines? He had a grand army with the best technology and the respect of numerous nations. With all the riches, love, and clout that comes with being the greatest monarch of all time, one would think that Solomon would be happy with his life. However, he had this to say at the end:
says the Teacher.
Everything is meaningless.”
3 What do people gain
from all their labors
at which they toil under the sun?
4 Generations come and generations go,
but the earth remains forever.
5 The sun rises and the sun sets
and hurries back to where it rises.
6 The wind blows to the south
and turns to the north;
round and round it goes,
ever returning on its course.
7 All streams flow into the sea,
yet the sea is never full.
To the place the streams come from,
there they return again.
8 All things are wearisome,
more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
nor the ear its fill of hearing.
9 What has been will be again,
what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Everything that Solomon was able to experience with the resources he obtained was seen as the “same old, same old.” He sought to experience new and unique pleasures, but he came to find that everything that has happened occurred before, and there is nothing that is brand new to this life. We can see this very well in the games that we play. A great example of this is the pixilated masterpiece, Shovel Knight. When this game first came out in 2014, people raved about how unique it was to the rest of the games on the market. In reality, Shovel Knight is an amalgamation of about half a dozen other retro titles. It has the map screen of Super Mario. Bros. 3, the eight bosses of Mega Man, and the down-thrust of the Adventures of Link. Those are just a few examples of how this game draws inspiration from other games in history; thus proving that new gaming experiences are impossible to find.
Why do we gamers play games over and over again only to buy a new one a few weeks later and repeat the process? The answer is simple; we are looking for something new. We are trying to get that “golden feeling” of completion, the very thing that will fill us up and make us say, “I have found my happiness!” Guess what, that will not be found in a video game or anything else in the world. That is because we are not meant for this world. We were created to be with God and live in his presence, and now we have to wait until the End in order to see that come about. Every new experience will let us down, but a life that is sealed in Christ will offer a reprieve from the “same old, same old.”
What does that look like? Well, that is something I’ll save for our next devotional. Until then, let’s cut those game developers some slack; they are only creating that which they know, and there is nothing new under the sun.