It was probably the fifth email I had received from someone in external media asking for my opinion. Had I played "the game", they asked, and what did I think of it? And, for the fifth time, I answered that I had not fully played the game, and nor did I plan to, and I didn't really know anyone locally who had either, at least not to any extent. The game in question? "Fort McMoney", the online game about my community.
"Fort McMoney" launched in November and I admit that the day it launched I planted myself in a chair with my laptop, signed in, and began to play. I spent four hours on it that day, finding some lovely cinematography, a few glitches, and nothing I didn't really already know about the place I call home. The next day I opened up that window again and played another two hours, but by the end of it I found myself just not enjoying it. The third day? I closed the window entirely, and never really returned to the game.
It's not because I hate the game, because I don't. I participated when the filmmakers contacted me, and I was interested to see the final product. It is a bit darker than I think my community is, but I cannot say it is entirely inaccurate. It is just one perspective though, filmed in winter (not exactly the best season anywhere, a bit grey and dreary no matter where you find it). I respect the filmmakers for the length of time they spent here, and for talking to a variety of people. And I suppose it may be an interesting adventure for those who don't live here, although even an online game can only reflect a small slice of what happens here. But as for spending hours playing, voting on and debating the future of my community? I guess I just don't have time - because I am too busy living that life, not playing it.
I suspect local uptake on the game has been on the low side, but I'm not really surprised by that. You see we are living life here, not playing a game. We are making decisions every single day that affect the future of this community.
In some ways I am not sure how I feel about my community, our collective future, and our lives being turned into a "game" for others to play. It makes me think of that movie Jim Carrey starred in many years ago, when he discovered that his entire life was actually a TV show and all those in it were actors (The Truman Show). And Shakespeare said all the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players, so I suppose one could take the strategy that we are all to some extent playing a game, which we call life. I suppose I don't feel quite so philosophical about it when it comes to others playing a game involving my community, moving us around like chess pieces as they decide our future based on fragments of information. But the odd thing is that I can work up no indignant anger over it, or even much of any reaction at all. I simply feel rather apathetic about the game, because it has no real impact on my life or what happens here.
I have tried to figure out why I feel so very indifferent to the game, and all I keep coming back to is that no game, no matter how well filmed or how much time they spent here, could ever truly capture the nuances of our lives. No game could ever depict all the different shades of grey, and no game could ever reflect the true nature of our community. And I suppose in the end that's why I stopped playing Fort McMoney, really. I just lost interest, because I don't need to play the game of life in Fort McMurray. I am instead just living it.