I played Chasm last night. I was thinking about finally starting Destiny 2 after waiting nearly a year, but I just couldn’t.
I wasn’t in the mood. I needed something with swords, without a gun to be seen, so I played Chasm and dug down into a mine and fought monsters for 45 minutes.
I hate guns. I recognise they’re necessary in certain parts of society. I recognise there are many people who own and use them responsibly — many of those people are quite dear to me. I recognise there’s probably no sure way to keep guns from all the people who would use them for evil, though it sure would be nice for leaders to try harder.
And I recognise that video game guns aren’t the real thing, that playing Commando on my Commodore 64 as a kid or, later, GoldenEye on my Nintendo 64 while in university could not prepare me for what it was going to feel like when I finally shot an M16 with live ammo at a military event in 2001, nor what it felt like to fire a rifle at pumpkins from my mother-in-law’s back porch.
But last night, I wasn’t in the mood for guns to be part of my pleasure.
In the video from Jacksonville last night, you can see what looks like a laser pointer on the chest of one of the contestants, just a moment before the shots ring out.
I can’t stop thinking about it. I want to, but I also don’t want to stop thinking about it. I don’t want to stop being revolted; I don’t want to stop being upset and bothered and frustrated and angry. I don’t want to be used to this. I don’t want to be numb. I don’t want to accept this.
I will play Destiny 2 at some point, because, obviously, a sci-fi game where you put your laser sights on aliens has nothing to do with what happened in Florida. What I play tonight, tomorrow night or a year from now makes no difference.
I played Chasm last night to cope. I played it to pry my eyes from a social media feed full of hurt and anger, to distract me from my deep sorrow about two more people whose lives have been taken because of the stupidest bullshit.
My kids were asleep down the hall. I had hugged them longer last night. What is this world we’re in? How do we all start young, so full of hope, so eager to smile and love, and wind up this way? I woke up today with the same feeling of heartbreak I’ve had so many times these last several years.
Like so many people, I wonder what I can do. I yearn to understand. I fume at political inaction. I wish we were a corner-turn from finding a solution, a cure for this American disease. There can’t be no pain, but there can surely be less.