Video games show us that immortality isn't so great after all

Posted on June 19, 2012 - 10:02am by I Beat The Nintendo


Everyone wishes they could live forever, and the invincibility code sounds so tempting, but would that really make us happier? There's a big difference between "having extra lives" or living longer in general from being invincible or immortal.

The idea of immortality, although intriguing, would actually be a terrible thing to have. Humans naturally love the idea of living forever because evolution has given us a survival instinct, but actually having it isn’t all it’s cracked up to is.

How do I know? Video games. If you’ve ever had a tough time playing a game, chances are, at some point, you’ve resorted to using an invincibility code (not to be confused with “infinite lives”). When you become invincible in a game, you simply can’t lose (unless you can’t solve some sort of puzzle, but you get the idea). With infinite lives, you can lose and just keep repeating the level until you beat it.

When you can’t lose in a video game, it becomes completely boring real quick. At this point, you’re just going through the motions until the game is over. What’s the fun in that? If I wanted to follow instructions, I’d build something.

I noticed this when I downloaded The Simpsons arcade game on my computer. In the arcade it was fun because you only had a few quarters and beating it was practically impossible. When downloaded, all you have to do is hit a key to “insert a quarter” and you keep playing endlessly. At first this seemed amazing because I could finally play the whole game and see the later levels, but I got really bored, quickly, with just pressing the same couple of buttons over and over as I walked to the right side of the screen.

I thought to myself “maybe the game was just more fun when I was a kid”, but that’s not the case at all. It was fun when I could lose, when I could die. Life has no meaning without death. The only thing that gives life its value is its time limit. If you had forever to do everything, you would feel like you were going through the motions just like in the video game.

The expression “time is money” is completely true. Time is very valuable to us because we have a finite amount of it. How we spend that time is very important to us because we can’t get that time back. That’s why everyone gets paid based on time, it’s a trade. If you make your time infinite, your time loses all value and so does your life. The same applies to money because if you had an endless amount of money (different from just a lot of money), you wouldn’t enjoy anything you spent it on because it all loses its value.

As always, agree or disagree, that’s my take on the matter.

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