On the screen of my phone, I am watching a little man. He’s drowning, but the stakes are low. The little man is a cartoon, so I am less concerned about whether he lives or dies. It’s all a bit nebulous for a cartoon. Elmer Fudd takes a shotgun to the face and is merely scorched. Mario, like Shakespeare’s coward, dies a thousand deaths, and continues on his quest. However, the little man is animated, from the same root as latin Anima, the soul. Maybe he has a soul.
Soul or not, I can’t do anything to save the little man, not just because he is a cartoon, but because he is an advertisement. He is an advertisement for a game called “Royal Match.” (The little man is technically a little king, but I’m not sure if that’s relevant yet.) Then again, maybe I COULD save the little man, that is what the advertisement is offering me, a chance to create an avatar, to enter my information into the game and become something of a cartoon myself. Then once I am incarnate within the game “Royal Match” I would be able to save the little king.
But is the little king drowning in the game the same little king drowning in the advertisement? Perhaps there are dozens, even thousands of little kings, all imperiled, all needing individual salvation via my avatar, my self-made-cartoon, my information made pixel-flesh enough to reach into their world and save them. I could be the great and glorious Christ of this animated world. I could be the little king’s Merciful God.
I am being shown the advertisement because I am playing a different game, called Toon Blast. In Toon Blast, no little kings drown; Instead, a series of colorful objects are matched in a variety of ingenious ways. It is a very similar game to Royal Match. I could match colorful objects in Royal Match and it would save the little king or kings, so you could say I am rehearsing for my role as Messiah and King of (little) Kings by playing Toon Blast, where no one dies.
In the game where I rehearse for this awesome responsibility, I can buy a series of abilities that make matching the colorful objects easier. I can do so with in-game money, which I can buy for real money, money in my world. I can turn money in my world into money in the cartoon world, which is what my wife calls a Poor Decision, so instead, I watch advertisements, which I am paid for in cartoon money.
That’s why I am watching the little man drowning, over and over and over, and I never do download Royal Match to save him, I never do make an avatar to be his salvation, instead I just make gobs and gobs of cartoon money, which is almost real money, and I wonder if I do have any mercy for the souls of little kings.