Videogame culture class crossover

In my 15 credit schedule this semester at University of Florida I somehow managed to squeeze in a class called Videogame Culture. This class, using the lens of one of the top Journalism colleges in the country, looks into perceptions of gaming in the entertainment industry and their overall cultural affect. That pitch aside, I love gaming and an assignment for the class had me look into “how games inspire” which I couldn’t help but answer dreamily. So here it is:

“One of the most notable influences of games on my life has been the content of my dreams. Oftentimes I find myself puzzling over “collect 10 thingymajig” quest with projections of my friends or swarming a Protoss base with my fellow hive-mates. I think that the oddities that I experience in games give me an equal amount of enrichment in my waking life as in my sleeping one. 

Over time I believe gaming and dreaming have evolved to have a kind of symbiotic relationship in my life. The language of games is very similar to the language of dreams. You don’t really know why you’re doing what you’re doing but it’s your quest and the point is to enjoy and learn from the experience. 

Some less linear games that I play like Starcraft and League of Legends are often the sites of my dream when my subconscious  feels like putting me on trial. Other games like Amnesia and System Shock 2 have given me nightmare-fuel for years to come. Most of all, I relish the dreamscapes I’ve gotten to experience inspired from the worlds of Mirror’s Edge and Katamari Damacy as they are some of the wackiest and most memorable I’ve had.”

I find game dreams very interesting, and would definitely like to expand on the ideas proposed in this short post in a future discussion. 

 

Dream on little dreamers, 

EB

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Angels and Dreamons

A Dream

I was standing outside on my balcony at night. As I looked out I found there was another apartment building across the road. The other building had a single balcony protruding from its shadowed bulk. I looked closer at the balcony. An ominous black mist emanated from the balcony . As I zoned in to the scene I felt my eyes lose focus.

An angelic figure appeared above me, glowing in white light. I pointed in the direction of the balcony across the way, hoping to bring his attention to the evil aura. I felt him fly away, but from my balcony could only see a glowing white light sinking into indistinct blackness. The white light came back soon after, but still my eyes were unfocused.

Thoughts

Dreams are a place of contrast. With a bit of thought archetypal themes can sometimes be found in dreams. These themes often revolve around simple things like what is large vs. small, what is bright vs. dim or even what is good vs. evil.

We can find these themes by focusing on what seemed important through a dream. Try asking yourself: What colors did you see? What textures did you feel? What sounds did you hear?

Oftentimes it’s not about what you actually saw or heard, but what you felt you saw or heard. If you asked me to describe the “angelic figure” of my dream I would be able to tell you that it was a figure in a bright white light. But I know it was angelic, not because I actually saw the perfect projection of an angel, but because I felt that I was looking at something that would be considered angelic.

I apologize if that seems redundant or arbitrary but I want to make a simple point. Don’t expect too much out of your dreams. You’re going to wake up with vague notions of the relationships that existed in your dreams, so take them at face value. Write what you know and interpret it later.

All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.

~Edgar Allan Poe

 

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

 

Your Avatar and You.

A major appeal of lucid dreaming is the fact that you can be whoever you want to be. Many meditative practices revolve around the recognition of a distinction between the mind and the body. It can be very healthy to give yourself the perspective of a new shell, even if it’s only subjectively.

What’s great about dreams is that your avatar, the physical representation of yourself in your dreams, is only limited by your imagination. Manipulating the dimensions of your avatar is the usual way people experience this, whether they become as tall as a building or thin as a crack in a door. However, more abstract things are entirely possible through dreams such as taking the form of an animal or the wind.

In a dream that I had just last night I took the part of a strain of seaweed being pulled along by the crashing waves of a beach. With some effort I was able to direct the aim of my drifting in order to sting the main antagonist of the dream with the jellyfish eggs tangled within me.  Admittedly this was an extremely strange dream for me, but at the same time I was glad that I had trained myself to recognize this dream’s insight.

The forms you take can be extremely interesting to observe. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to recognize that you’re an active participant in your dreams and it can also be difficult to know what you look like. Thus, the two goals to avatar recognition are knowing that you are and knowing what you are.

Knowing that you are is the basis of all lucid dreaming and comes with practice but there are some checks you can do to make it easier. Looking at text such as watches, books or phones which tend to look garbled in dreams is usually a good way to assert consciousness. Another method is to focus your energy on any specific object or person in the dream. The “anchor” typically works well for this. Focusing on something allows you to control the flow of the dream and prove your presence to yourself. There are many more methods, but these are a couple that came to mind.

Knowing what you are is where the fun part comes in. Try to take note of the perspective from which you’re viewing the dream. Are you way down at the feet of the people around you? Are you looking them right in the eyes? Or are you soaring far above them like a bird?  Mirrors are usually a lucky find in dreams as they force your mind to either create a picture of your avatar or leave it blank and give you a blatant clue to the fact that you’re dreaming. If you’re able to catch a hint of what you are try to act the part. Ebb and flow like a wave, stretch your wings like a bird or simply just breathe.

Oftentimes it’s only in retrospect that you can recognize what your role was within the dream you just had. Even if you find that you were just yourself most of the time it’s a huge step forward to know even that. Keep on trying and see what you’ll become.

 

Dream on little dreamers,

EB

 

Lucid Dreaming: The Basics.

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For the sake of ease of understanding I’m going to explain lucid dreaming in my own words. This is to say that I will not do any outside research for this post and will instead focus on the key basics which stand out as prominent in my mind after 5 years of lucid dreaming practice.

 

The first and most important thing was the subject of my last post: Write down your dreams! Even starting with the most vague memories is useful along your path to lucidity. Pictured above is an example of how an entry I made looked after I could only remember a few hazy facts. As you can tell the sentences are disjointed and oddly placed, in fact I’d be the first to admit that looking back on this story I hardly have an idea of what it was about at the time. The purpose of writing your dreams is not to document them for further use, rather it is to study your memories so that you may become stronger at recollecting them
To this end your notes should be taken in whatever way you feel suitable. Whether it be in drawings, lists and/or full sentences (I often use a combination of the three) just get down whatever you can whenever you can. A disclaimer: don’t allow this to make you lazy in your recollections, the more you remember the more you should write down. It won’t take long for you to realize that oftentimes the little details are the quirkiest in dreams anyway, which is always fun.
Secondly, it is key that you develop a healthy sleeping schedule. I know this will probably be the most painful part for a lot of you (it sure was for me). It takes an hour and a half to complete a full REM cycle. Only about 30 of those minutes are spent in deep, restful sleep and fewer time still is allotted to prime lucid dreaming time. It is my experience that unless I’m getting at least two REM cycles (three hours) I have a very small chance of developing any meaningful dream experience. Three hours alone for a night can be detrimental to your health for obvious reasons, there is however a variety of alternative sleep schedules such as the “Uberman“. I have no experience in that topic, but I do think it will make for an interesting post with some research in the future.
Back to the point, giving yourself ample restful sleep is key. I also recommend using relaxing music, incense or meditation videos to ease your way into sleep. The more at ease you go into dreaming the more likely that you’ll have a pleasant, meaningful dreams as opposed to “stress dreams” (such as falling and delusions of missed assignments). Some ambient chill music that I would recommend are bands like Trentemoller, Royksopp and Air France to start. A youtuber I found recently, lillium, has an array of relaxation videos meant to put you to sleep.
My last bit of advice is the “anchor.” In the popular movie Inception the spinning top was the example of the character’s hook into reality. It is your duty to find an object that is comfortable to you to learn intimately. I feel as though a top may be a little cumbersome to carry around so try something that’s already on your person. A watch, bracelet or ring is often a good choice. Objects that will be around your hands/arms are nice because you’ll see them over the course of the day whether you like it or not.
The reason for this odd practice is to serve as a way for you to know the difference between the sleep world and the real world. To do this you have to habitually analyze your chosen object and learn it’s form. You’ll find that if you successfully develop a habit of checking the object you will also do so in your dreams. When you see the object in your dreams it is your goal to be able to recognize the flawed details in the object. This small logic exercise has the power to give you conscious control during your dreams. The first few times you do this you might wake yourself up in the middle of the night, but it’s worth it! Examples of this dreaming phenomena include: A watch that has the numbers mixed around, a bracelet being made of twine instead of gold or maybe a pair of glasses that has too many frames.
Don’t worry yourself too much about mastering that last part just yet, that’s the part that takes the most practice. For now just try and find an object and stick to it, wear it or carry it everywhere. Personally I’ve managed to lose 3 of my anchor’s so far (my propensity for being a air-head far outweighs my skill with lucid dreaming, clearly), so don’t fret too much over your selection just get it done.

Dream on little dreamers,
EB