I’m dropped on a planet with nothing but a few simple imperatives to point the way. The sensation is familiar, but the world is a stranger. Mushrooms grow maybe 30 feet tall here. Strange creatures wander around, and some of them attack me when they see me and others don’t.
This seems to be the only meaningful difference between them.
I scrape through the dirt trying to find anything of value. I pile up rocks, first to build a home, then make simple tools to make digging through the dirt easier.
I dig a lot. I dig down until I find a sea of magma.
Then I walk around the world.
Then I go up in my space ship and fly off to find another world to do it again.
About my space ship: It has everything I need. It has a camp fire. It has a bed. It has an anvil and a furnace. It has a picture of a banana. it has boxes full of dirt, and also full of other boxes, nested impossibly. It’s terribly small, but it doesn’t matter much because I can use it to fly to a million different planets.
Each planet is different, somewhat. The animals look different, but they all behave in the same two ways, cut from two sheets of cloth: Angry and passive. I find villages of other creatures, nominal humanoids. They talk, but are essentially the same as the animals. They are passive. I dig through their belongings to find what I need to survive and they do not object. They do not struggle to survive. They merely exist.
I go from planet to planet, collecting resources, and then I use those to build a map to the next galaxy, a more dangerous one with more valuable resources, and travel there, and go from planet to planet.
What am I running from?
It feels like I’m running away from something. I keep getting more and more powerful, finding new weapons, making new armor, but I feel so helpless. I’m lost in an infinite galaxy, and all this power allows me to do is find my way to another infinite galaxy. I’ve fallen down a hole, and now I’m just jumping into other holes hoping one will lead to the way out. It’s impossible.
Why do I keep trying? Why can’t I stop playing?
Sitting in my room, here, I can’t figure it out.
About my room: It has everything I need. It has a heater, it has a bed. It has a keyboard and a guitar and boxes of wires I keep because I might need them some day. It’s terribly small, but it doesn’t matter, because I’m not stuck here, really. While my body sits, in front of a glowing computer monitor, my mind flies free through my monitor, through a million uncharted worlds.
Outside everything is frozen.
Everything is possible. Everything is comprehensible. I can explore forever, without bounds.
Another year is about to pass.
What am I running from?
When I close my eyes, sometimes, I see myself in a world much like this one, building a staircase of glowing bricks up into the sky. I remember the feeling I got of climbing up, step by step, into the heavens of Terraria, and I think to myself that perhaps I am not running away.
Perhaps I am searching.