Worlds unseen that wish to be seen. Voices unheard that wish to be heard. Somewhere in space and time there is a boy looking to explore. He looks for magic in other worlds because his own cannot provide it. But what sort of magic was it that truly enticed the child? Was it worlds to see and voices to hear? Or did they just keep him submerged after some other magic made him dive?
Maybe the adult life thrust upon him made him rewrite his past. Maybe he needs to believe that it was a certain kind of magic that made him find worlds on a screen. Like it was meant to be.
But is the truth really the sour alternative that the boy barely made man tries so hard to avoid in his memory? Games are technology and technology is new, always new. So maybe it was novelty that was the call so long ago. A more industrial magic that is in the end not magic because it can be explained. Perhaps the boy was in awe of the novelty of characters moving on a screen. Or perhaps he was consumed with jealousy that he did not own the magic machine that was not magic at all.
But the jealousy subsided when he managed to grasp his own machine made of screens and buttons and computer chips. If petty desires were indeed the initial cause, they had given way to something else. Now that he had the device that he craved, he did not get bored of it; it did not fly under his expectations. No, it was just as he hoped. And he had hoped for a lot.
Pixels jumped on a screen at his command. Failure of execution meant the death of the pixels. Precise timing meant the success of the pixels. The boy mused about power and responsibility before the movies told him to. So when the boy finally led a minuscule black and white Mario to a castle where the princess did not turn into a monster, it provided the boy with pride and relief of a sort not felt before. The pixels were not pixels in that moment and maybe moments before, they were inhabitants.
The magic machine – that, as mentioned, was not magic – was now a permanent fixture in the boy’s life. The moments in the past when the machine was not there did not make sense to the boy. They must have been false moments. But if the screen and the child told each other they were all they needed, the child at least was lying. The machine was just a machine after all, and other machines offered more.
“Those worlds are in colour,” he said, “they rotate and zoom and there is more than just side to side. The worlds in that machine must be better.”
Indeed, he found his new magic machine that could provide colour and rotation to give him worlds that he called deeper. Even in a race with cartoony cars, the boy would go off course and explore a castle.
“There is more to everything in these worlds,” he said, “I bet every game secretly goes on forever.”
Whenever he thought he was getting used to the sorts of worlds that the machines provided, he was always proven wrong. There was a time when the boy – older than a child, but still a boy – sat with his brothers on the floor of a house he believed to be haunted. The three children looked at the boy with the sword on the screen made up of polygons and pixels and run by zeros and ones. The children were inside the game. They felt the resolve of the hero and they were excited by the mystery of the world.
But that could not be so. The magic machine – as discussed – was not magic at all. The children were at their father’s house, not a land of swords and sorcery. Still, that night the boy dreamt nothing but of an ancient temple, filled with phantom hands and paintings that were not paintings at all.
The boy – ostensibly a man – now sits and remembers these worlds unseen that wished to be seen. He still loves the magic machine, but he knows now that the machines are just machines and not magic at all. Knowledge is power, but once in a while the boy wishes again to be powerless and to remember the magic inside the machine.