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Myst

Atmospheric Emotions

THERE is no denying it - it’s a slow game.

In this day and age of ultra-smooth graphics and hyper-action titles, Myst, the first-person click-and-solve puzzler, seems a world away.

There is no violence here, no heart-pounding boss encounters or race against the clock. It’s largely about walking around an island finding solutions to tasks and piecing together a backstory.

At the heart of it is a family mystery that you are burdened with solving, not just for curiosity’s sake but also as a means of getting back to your own world.

So there’s a lot riding on your Nancy Drew abilities.

It was released in 1993 and since then, computer game makers have become experts at creating in-game atmospheres and emotional connections with players.

Myst though, seems to be one of the first to do an excellent job at establishing an immersive environment that makes the player want to keep pressing on to get to the finish.

Myst doesn’t push your reflexes or hone your button-pressing prowess; it stretches your brain.

The depth of the puzzles that need solving means a player won’t be skipping through it in a casual 20 minutes.

For its time, the images are rich and detailed. But the thing that Myst does is make a player feel something.

It surrounds the participant with ambience, enveloping him or her into the world where the ocean is heard sloshing against the shore, where buttons and levers make unusual clunks or snapping sounds.

You can almost feel the breeze in that spindly pine forest and smell the mustiness of the library as you chase down pages.

On another level within that, the storyline and acting pull the player in different directions of allegiance. Which brother do you believe? Who is lying? How will a wrong decision affect the outcome?

It is easy to become distracted by simply “being in” the game to the point of forgetting about the job at hand.

Feelings have a tendency to do that. God gives us feelings and emotions in the first place but like many good things in this world, they can be manipulated for wrong purposes in a fallen world.

Advertising and marketing teams have gotten emotional connection down to an art. They want customers to fall in love with their brand/product/service.

Even at a more personal level, many people are good manipulators of emotions, knowing what to say in order to get a reaction or to try and win over someone, often with half-truths and vagaries.

Doing so may not always be beneficial for those trying to live for God.

The Bible says to walk in the Spirit in order to avoid succumbing to false emotional appeals.

Be alert to when the emotional atmosphere of a situation could be leading you down a harmful path, even if it’s a beautifully rendered digital island.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

- Galatians 5: 16

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