Last night, about this time, I was descending in a bulky 737, we were descending and the plane rumbled a bit. As we touched down it thundered at an alarming pace down the runway, a speed I was familiar with from previous flights but questioned this time. Right as a turn in the runway drew closer, the plane slowed almost perfectly to be ready for the shift. I contemplated how one could test this without destroying a few planes or injuring a few pilots. Then I remembered math. Life is one big math equation. Physics, probability, it’s all mapped out in distinct rules. In a controlled environment with perfect testing means you could bounce a ball and make it exactly where you want it to go every single time. Life is built in way that technically speaking everything can work without disruption, along a set course . But it doesn’t. If you were outside with a slight breeze you wouldn’t know where that ball would go. It isn’t your decision. It isn’t anybody’s decision. It’s the wind, the inflation of the ball, the tautness of what you are bouncing it off of. Life isn’t 2+2=4, it’s 2+2= 3,508 or 2+2=3,000,483,589, because somewhere in there life sneaks something you can’t factor in. A variable beyond your control, the factor that makes life interesting. The X .
If you give a person a million dollars you don’t know what they will spend it on. You may think you do, they may be a car collector, so you sit there waiting for a car to arrive in the driveway, until he walks up the pavement, a priceless necklace in his hand for the wife you didn’t think he cared much for. Humans are funny in the way that they are unpredictable, we act the way we want to act, and it is our choice alone. We decide our X, all anybody else can do is guess it.
Games are equations, heck the code they are written in are often equations. But that code decides only so much. It sets the stage, it brings up the lights, arranges the seats, and finds the props. But it doesn’t chose the actor. Games are always written with an X involved, or they can’t be a game. It wouldn’t be your experience, it would all belong to the person who wrote the equation. That way they decide what happens, when it does, and with who and what. Those make 2+2=4, games let you take four up to a billion and beyond. Games are unfinished equations. They have no answer until you give it to them. Games are made with all parts of the math except the variable. Without the X it can’t function. To finish the equation the game needs you. An X can’t just be replaced with numbers, it would just be another scripted event. It needs you, a thinking, feeling, curious, angry, happy variable, one not constrained by the limits of any equation. Games only work with interaction, a variable to complete it, an X. But what is the X? Well, the X is…