I advocate the use of certain mind-altering substances, particularly in collision with art. I'm open about this because I believe I'm right, the enrichment of the mind and spirit from these experiences vastly outweighs abuses in less meaningful contexts. The experience gains a holistic value from the altered chemistry, and the perspective is presciously unique. I once asked Mark Healy (of Rag Doll Kung Fu fame, now Little Big Planet) why designers seemed to do drugs less, on average, than other kinds of creative magnates.
He said: "That's a tricky one, because I'm pretty sure the good game designers in this industry have had drug experiences. Not all, but many. I suppose you could say that for all crafts."
Asked about games that are intentionally tripped, he said: "Things like Rez on the PlayStation… actually maybe all games, now that I think about it."
But definitely, definitely Rez in particular.
For me it was the moment when the gernade launcher on the enemy ships, going off in a boom-bam kind of rhythm, started to synch with the targeting and laser sounds, the back-line drums and bass, the sparkle of synth. I laughed out loud, then the boss fight. A sensation of being raptured by your own paralysis, like an alien abduction or psychotic dream, starts to bend at you just as much as you bend the thumb-stick. It's a shooter-on-rails in the sense that Jesus is a messiah-on-wheels: yes, but then so much more. You just need to play it, because it's one of them art games, but unlike many it delivers on replay and visceral appeal - instant on with a dash of expanded consciousness.
There's something wholly understated yet philosophical about taking on what seems to be a demonic cyber-organism, mediating withing a shield, as if you're so unconcerned with the outcome of the conflict that you're guaranteed to win by sheer music. It's a re-emphasis of gameplay off of explicit goals and onto aesthetic ones. Many will come back to this game chasing point tallies or completion, but many still will come back just to work on their real-time mixing of beats and blasters. Then there's the implied goal of leveling up, going from a vulnerable sphere to a polygon man, all the way up to nirvana. I had thought the game was complete, then my brother and I considered, "what happens if you level up past the meditating guy?" So we did, it's awesome. Then that unlocked a fifth area, the experience of which is one of the most majestic and smoothly executed climaxes of any game, ever. The star child from 2001 makes a cameo, as does the THX intro sound effect and the mother of all creation.