Video Games, Reality and the Lifeworld of the Church

An article in the Herald Sun reported on the preliminary findings from research on a group of frequent gamers who, having been so immersed in the world of video games, have reached a stage where they see the world around them through the prism of the games they play, demonstrating what the researchers are calling “Game Transfer Phenomena”.
Signs of this phenomena, according to this article, include seeing “life bars” over people’s heads, an instinctual reaching for invisible game controller buttons and thinking in terms of cognitive dialogue menus similar to those found in many adventure role playing games.
The research used a very small sample of 42 individuals and need to be corroborated with further study, but the  preliminary findings are a sobering indication of the symptoms of contemporary culture’s immersion in cyberspace. According to Nishant Shah, who directs the Centre for the Internet and Society in Bangalore, such a culture is bound to experience what he calls “reverse translation”, where concrete realities are made to conform to the synthetic realities of the internet.
This should not come as a surprise since, according to the University of Chester’s Elaine Graham, any media-generated life world does not merely represent temporal realities, but bears the capacities to generate new worlds of its own.
Research on the internet and society in the area of experiences of lifeworlds are challenging the post-Enlightenment notion of being able to perceive “the world as it really is”. Though reports like the one above paint a bleak picture, the overall trend of research into cybernetics does indicate that there is a proper place of alternative bodies – like the Church – in building alternative life worlds in contrast to the liberal lifeworld of the state and market. The Church is thus not “cut off from reality” as some secular banshees would have it, but in the process of building alternative horizons to the stultifying strictures of the secular status quo.

This other lifeworld is the “new thing” that the prophet Isaiah says God is doing, and the prophet to this day keeps asking us as it is being built “can you not see it already”?


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