Can video games be a spiritual experience? Answer: yes!

I was having dinner with a friend, when his son mentioned to me that my XBox account was still logged into his 360, and he wanted to know how I had completed all those challenges and unlocked all those cars on Burnout Paradise.  For a second, I locked up, unable to say anything because those achievements weren't unlocked by me, they were unlocked by my brother, who passed away at the start of 2019.  I stammered something about my agreement at how crazy it was, and the flow of conversation mercifully moved towards something else.

That gut punch to the feels led me to think of this exchange on YouTube back in 2014 where the PBS Game/Show channel asked the question: "Can games be a spiritual experience?"

To which user 00WARTHERAPY00 replied with this story:

Well, when i was 4, my dad bought a trusty XBox. you know, the first, ruggedy, blocky one from 2001. we had tons and tons and tons of fun playing all kinds of games together — until he died, when i was just 6.

i couldnt touch that console for 10 years.

but once i did, i noticed something.

we used to play a racing game, Rally Sports Challenge. actually pretty awesome for the time it came.

and once i started meddling around… i found a GHOST.


you know, when a time race happens, that the fastest lap so far gets recorded as a ghost driver? yep, you guessed it – his ghost still rolls around the track today.

and so i played and played, and played, untill i was almost able to beat the ghost. until one day i got ahead of it, i surpassed it, and…~

i stopped right in front of the finish line, just to ensure i wouldnt delete it.

That comment resonated so deeply that John Wikstrom directed this Player Two video, which takes that blade sticking into your feels, and rams it all the way in till the guard stops the hilt from going all the way through:

It's amazing how light one's lasting touch can be on the world; so light, in fact, that all pertinent traces of one could be thrown out or deleted as easily as simply beating a best time that's trapped in digital amber until the next player replaces it.