Tag Archives: power

Cheating Extinction

I read Matt’s post about the danger of trash to animals and I am definitely looking forward to the discussion we will have in his class on Tuesday. But before that, I will present some initial thoughts regarding Matt’s main topic of discussion, “If we believe in evolution, survival of the fittest, and that extinction is a natural part of life, then why do we feel the need to ‘save’ endangered species.” Firstly, I think there is a dichotomy between those who think that extinction is natural and those who feel the need to save endangered species. Therefore, “we” should be better specified. So from now on, I shall use “we” for those who want to save endangered animals.

Some might consider the people who want to save endangered animals as “good” and people who will not step into action due to the belief in the naturalness of extinction as “bad”. But I shall state otherwise. Those who want to save the animals are the ones who want to transcend nature. Similar to the popular idea of cheating death, these people hope of cheating nature’s principles of evolution and extinction. I found a TV show on Animal Planet called Orangutan Island, in which people are trying to save the endangered Orangutans by protecting them and giving them homes. The title of Season 2’s Episode 1 is “Cheating Extinction,” which pertains quite well to our discussion. The regular viewer would think that the Orangutans are cheating extinction, but actually we are the ones cheating extinction. Not our extinction, but the Orangutan’s extinction. So now, we play a key role in the fate of other animals. Quite a weighty responsibility, isn’t it? Of course. Attempting to invalidate nature’s inherent laws by replacing it with human power is no small deal.

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The (Sim)bolism in Games

Let’s do something different. I am in the gaming mood right now, but trust me, I wasn’t playing video games over the entire weekend. Remember the simulation game made by Electronic Arts called Simcity? Well I noticed that there are some ideas related with nature in this game. Create new profile: Miles. Start city. Before you begin building your city, you are in the stage called “God Mode”. In this stage, you can manipulate nature into almost anything you want. Perhaps a mountain here would be nice. Maybe a lake would enhance my city-under-construction. Let’s add some trees to create a jungle. How about some llamas? I don’t know about you, but I find this game naturally addicting. For some reason, I find pleasure in making nature into anything I wish. I find pleasure in summoning UFOs or tornadoes to attack the city. Why? I do not know. It’s not like I’m a bad person who enjoys the sight of pain. I think it’s just this inherent human characteristic. We all want power over nature. It’s built into our minds and hardwired in. That is how EA can make so much money from its games. They appeal to natural human desires. Now this is what I consider an effective corporate marketing strategy.

You can’t talk about Simcity without talking about its counterpart, the Sims. I have recently spent some time playing Sims 3, in which you get to create and control your Sim’s life and fate. Again, you play the god figure. First you construct the physical features of your Sim. Next you can select from a plethora of personalities and traits to create your ideal (or non-ideal) Sim. You control his or her lifespan, every action, and basically everything. This successful game is quite popular and widely acclaimed. Why do we find so much pleasure in controlling the lives of other “humans”? Does this game serve as a means of venting or living vicariously? Maybe we want the feeling of power, not just over nature, but also over other humans, which makes us consider whether the major battle is always between nature and humanity.