I’m sitting on the couch this morning while my stepson played a game called Minecraft. It can be a multi-player game with very simplistic graphics, but apparently it’s really taking off.
So there I am listening as he and his friend discuss a phantom that’s “built into the game” called herobrine or Hero Bryan. Apparently this is the ghost of the creator’s little brother that he coded into the game with some level of AI to wander around and freak people out or kill them off randomly.
While there maybe some kind of weird cyber mythology in games like World of Warcraft, I’ve not heard anything like this anywhere else on the web. These are the sorts of stories children used to tell around campfires about the camper who got lost in the woods and returns once a year to find a new playmate to spend eternity with him.
Just listening to them talk about how freaky and scary this digital demon was supposed to be (he’s in the default skin, but with blank, white eyes) made me remember how I felt listening to scary stories my dad told in the dark sometimes.
In my day job, I’m a technology professional for a school district and I love all my technological toys from the two laptops I own to the eReaders in the house (only for pulp novels though – the good novels still get hardcover treatment), my App heavy smart-phone. However, not once has there been anything online that could frighten me the way that a good Stephen King, Richard Matheson or Joe Hill story can.
Sure, there are frightening stories online – but to have a “ghost” that hunts down your character in a video game just doesn’t seem that creepy for me. Sure, Resident Evil 2 scared the pants off me, but in the way a good scary movie will.
I’ve done some research on this digital ghost and I’ve found some things out, but I’m not going to be the one make your decision for you, nor is that aspect of the myth what I’m trying to say here.
The direction I’m going here is simply that our children seem to be so ingrained in a digital life that those myths that once would have been a part of real life has migrated to digital life and I don’t think I like it one bit. It makes me want to grab him and drag him out into the world, where ghosts exist (or don’t) in a much more frightening capacity and life is far more beautiful than some 16bit graphics on a glowing screen.
But then, why am I still sitting on the couch while the sun is out?
Guess that’s my cue to log off and enjoy the day.