One of the most extraordinary things a game can accomplish is making the gamer think and see differently.
Myst: UrU is such a game, and like any other Myst game it has you running about worlds and strange environments solving puzzles that are contained in mysterious landscapes. These puzzles are sometimes obvious and small, but many times extraordinarily complex and extensive even requiring an extra set of hands to solve. The beauty of UrU is that others can help and do help because it’s online.
UrU is a game that you experience, not so much as play. This game forces you to investigate every inch of your surroundings and this is why I think it is so powerful. In an age when we can virtually sleep through our days without recognizing anything wondrous, miraculous, or awesome perhaps we need more tools that force us to awaken. UrU does that. Not only do you get the chance to walk among monstrous constructs of engineering marvel in incredibly detailed environments but you get the sense when doing so that UrU is somehow an organic place, that even though it is completely fictional perhaps it has a life beyond just that of its virtual bytes.
As I’ve hinted at UrU is a place, yes it’s virtual but logging in requires you to shift your reality foothold and realize that maybe, just for awhile, another can roll over you. One thing UrU does is suspend your disbelief through the way it requires you to investigate each world with abject specificity. One is required to look out across great vistas and once inhabited fantastic cities and know that each door in that city leads to a corridor or a room that wants to be explored. It is after all about exploration, plain and simple. Not at all is UrU about running and rushing through areas, you’ll need to take your time to see everything, to be a tourist in a strange land.
As an Occultist I think games are entering a threshold period. Game creators can either keep creating violent war games that dull our senses and our humanity, creating generations of drone prone violent hyper-actives – or they can begin to utilize this Virtua medium to enliven awareness and a living compassion. Being that games are the new mass drug, perhaps I’m being a little to optimistic when I say that game creators are artists and will eventually realize that giving people virtual weapons in which to enact their bloodlust simply should not be the end result of this amazing technological canvas.
UrU is a reminder that games can require more of players than running fast, blowing up and/or hacking things to pieces. Maybe.
Some good sites to explore:
Myst Journey : Galleries and information on the worlds of Myst:UrU
Artful Gamer : A blog about just that
Myst Online : If your interested in playing UrU for free