James Borda Writer, Game and Interaction Designer

The Buddhist

A collaboration with Bona Kim.

Go to The Buddhist Official Site

“Goal-seeking activity is always the enemy of real peace and contentment. The idea that what is here and now is less valuable than what’s over there just past the finish line prevents us from ever being truly content and happy right where we are. No matter what your ultimate goal is, it’s always off in the distance. This goes for any goal at all, even the goal of attaining ultimate inner peace or saving all beings.” -From Tricycle Daily Dharma

In our Narrative Lab class, we explored the question of whether non-linear narrative could achieve the aesthetic affects which Aristotle first described 2000 years ago. The backward-looking, hero/heroine-driven linear narrative offers the audience a catharsis through reversal – an event which creates meaning through the recontextualization of past events.

However, according to Buddhism, the source of all suffering is our mental reflex to imbue value on the universe. We separate ourselves and other objects from the background plane of events, label them, conceptualize them, imbue them with individuality and then draw some value between them. We make ourselves unhappy by maintaining the fiction of our individuality. And this fiction takes the form of stories.

The Buddhist reality of constant change means that nothing, including ourselves, is unitary, enduring, or independent. Dwelling on the past or future prevents us from awakening into the vividness of the present moment.

Through “The Buddhist” we hope our audience gains some awakening. By confronting them with a “game” in which any attempt to control the story results in failure, we hope our audience will be brought into the present moment – to enjoy the here and now, free of the anxious search for happiness in some other place and time.

This project was created as a part of Narrative Lab class taught by Douglas Rushkoff at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP).

Project Details

Unity 3D