Clearly, there is nothing in death which is to be feared, nor should one be sad when it cannot make the slightest difference whether he had never been born, when immortal death does take away his mortal life.
scire licet nobis nil esse in morte timendum
nec miserum fieri qui non est posse neque hilum
differre an nullo fuerit iam tempore natus,
mortalem vitam mors cum immortalis ademit.
Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, Book 3, Lines 866-9.
Lucretius was a Roman poet and philosopher. He is best known for his work De Rerum Natura, which he wrote to explain the philosophy of the Greek philosopher and sage Epicurus to Romans. He sought to transmit the Epicurean goal of living a life of tranquility and simple pleasures free from the fear of death.
I chose a quotation from De Rerum Natura for my game design practice because it fits my goals:
- Socializing and enjoying the presence of friends old and new;
- Pursuing simple pleasures;
- Recognizing that life is temporary and fleeting, but nevertheless worth celebrating;
- Using games as a form of serious play, engaging with serious issues in an accessible manner.
This same quotation spoke to another of my favorite philosophers, Karl Marx. He referred to “mors immortalis” in his work The Poverty of Philosophy. Marx refers to immortal death to capture his belief that categories are “historical and transitory products.” The only constant is change, to paraphrase Heraclitus.
I like the idea that games are founded on our material instincts as primates, pattern-seeking, social animals who ascribe meaning to seemingly random events, and cut right to the heart of our competitive and cooperative impulses. The physical experience of playing games together at a table is one that so far cannot be fully replicated digitally. Games have the power to speak to the circumstances of our life as well as show us other ways of being. The experiences we have and the stories we create together through games can become a form of symbolic immortality: “immortal death.”
Mors Immortalis Games is based in unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations territory, a.k.a. Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.