Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Playing some computer games

I have been playing quite some computer games these days, especially after having bought my new laptop from the Singapore Sitex fair a few weeks ago. There are many games which I can now run on my new laptop which I previously couldn’t with my old one. I am indeed a computer gaming aficionado, this being so even during my childhood. Some of my favourite computer games are in the strategy genre, such as red alert 2, command and conquer generals, and Warcraft 3. Newer kinds of games in the similar genre which I love include StarCraft 2, Dota 2, X-Com : Enemy Within, and the Total war series. Recently, I bought a new game called door kickers, which features a group of swat police officers whom you are supposed to control to do various missions. It has an interesting edge to it in that you are able to pause the game, plan the moves, and execute them. You are allowed free pauses during the game during which you can plan new moves. It is game which concept I believe is long overdue, and brings with it a fresh air into the genre of strategy gaming.

Another game that I have been trying out Diplomacy. It is reputedly the favourite game of Henry Kissinger, and after playing the game for quite some while, I can see why this is so. Compared to the other strategy gaming genre, Diplomacy features a certain depth and intricacy to the way players on the board have to negotiate amongst themselves to achieve their objectives. In the midst of all the negotiation and scheming, there is the occasional backstab which players can pull on one another. It really exemplifies the concept of Realpolitik in the way international diplomacy is carried out. Compared to the more popular and widely known board game of Risk, I think Diplomacy is a more interesting and fun game to play, though it isn’t the kind of game that is conducive to playing with friends since backstabbing in the game can really cause unhappiness beyond the board!

I suppose for me, a good computer game can provide as much entertainment as a good movie or book. It can be pretty educational too, and provide a certain simulatory experience not replicable from the more passive receptive option of reading a book or watching a movie.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Movie Reflection : Bruce Almighty

I watched the movie Bruce Almighty. Bruce Almighty stars Jim Carrey, who plays the protagonist, Bruce Nolan. Bruce, a television news field reporter, is given the power to play God for a period of time by God. The character God, played by Morgan Freeman, was tired of Bruce’s constant grumbling against him for the various misgivings that Bruce had about his job and his life. God challenged Bruce if he could make a better God than he does.

With his newfound powers, Bruce foremost sought revenge against various people who had wronged him or disparaged him in the past. This includes taking out a gang who had beaten him up, and embarrassing an arrogant colleague by making him speak gibberish as anchor on television news. He also flaunted his powers, using it to impress his girlfriend by pulling the moon nearer to the earth to set up a view, inadvertently causing a tidal flood in Japan from the altered lunar forces on the earth. When presented with prayers in the form of emails on his computer, Bruce simply replied 'yes' to all of the prayer messages. This resulted in many people winning the lottery, which diluted the winnings to such an extent that the payoff was a meager $17. These people were unhappy and went onto the street to riot. Bruce also made use of his powers to gain the prestige of having the most exclusive news coverage as field reporter. He was able to engineer events on the ground which he then covered and reaped the credit for. He subsequently earned a promotion to become news anchor on television.

However, Bruce’s girlfriend, Grace, felt more alienated by Bruce’s success, which also attracted him the attention of a female news colleague. Grace decided to leave Bruce after catching him being kissed by that female colleague when she arrived on scene at a party. Bruce realized that despite obtaining success in his own eyes, he had lost the thing that had mattered to him. He also realized that his actions had resulted in more harm than good when he saw the town being burnt by the lottery rioters. While feeling heartbroken while walking along the road, he exclaims his surrender to the will of God. He was momentarily taken up to heaven where he had a conversation with God. When Bruce’s consciousness returned to earth on the road where he had exclaimed to God, he was hit by a truck, and ended up in hospital where his girlfriend attended to him and they rekindled their relationship. Bruce returned to his job as a field reporter and to his normal daily life, this time finding a level of satisfaction of his role as field reporter covering the simple stuff, and an understanding and contentment of his life as it used to be despite things not turning out the way he wants them to.

What do I think of the film? I like it, although I wonder whether I can accept its moral of the story, and particularly about its depiction regarding the character of God. The moral of the story would reflect the common Christian saying that we should trust in God because our will might not be for the best of things, and God might have a better plan than what we think is right or good. As the movie suggests, it might probably more difficult to play God than one would realize. The movie depicts the role of God as having to deal with countless prayer requests. Some people may argue that God is supposed to be omniscient and not hindered in responding to prayer requests by the sheer amount of it. I would think that even if God were limited in having to respond to prayer requests one at a time, he should have invented a system of delegation for his angels or saints to handle them for him. I find it troublesome that the God in the show seem to prefer to take a hands-off approach when it comes to dealing with human problems, believing that it is better that humans find their own way to their own solutions. It seems hypocritical to me that the movie’s God would necessitate that Bruce handles prayer requests when he himself is quite laid-back about it. But perhaps I shouldn’t be nit-picky about the representation of what God is like in the film, but to get the gist of what the moral of the story is about. I do hope that the real God is more caring about people’s problems, and is doing something about them. There are problems in the world which I feel that no one else except God can resolve, and where his dire intervention is needed, especially when it comes to issues of evil and suffering.

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