“Everything was beautiful, and nothing hurt.”
—Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five
Everything is a game about…everything. All that you can taste or see or feel. Even some things that you can’t. Starting out as a speck of light, the game teaches how to move your consciousness up and down the chain of being. I took over a herd of horses, moved my island across the continent, and shifted galaxies around the universe. Any little (or massive) item you can think of, you can control. You can even talk to the various items that populate the cosmos, giving you tips on what to do next or their thoughts in their corner of the cosmos.
Along the way, I was able to play back bits of a lecture by Alan Watts, an English philosopher instrumental in introducing Buddhism to the West. His talking points on interconnectivity coincide with the play experience of Everything, that the world is linked together by the vital forces that are in all things. This is also emphasized by the ethereal soundtrack and the smooth textures. This is a beautiful game and gives you the freedom to explore that beauty while you ponder it’s meaning with Mr. Watts.
In the midst of this, I kept coming back to the same question: where is my wife’s mother in this universe?
Nearly a month ago, Lynn passed from this world after suffering with ALS. For nearly 2 years, my wife and I watched her body degrade. First, her speech went. Then she was unable to eat. Then she couldn’t walk. Finally, unable to breathe, she passed away early on a Saturday morning. We were heartbroken. Lynn assumed that she would live a long time—long enough to see us have children, long enough to spend more vacations in the Smoky Mountains, long enough to enjoy the retirement that we all knew she deserved. Instead, her life was cut short by an ugly disease that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.
So instead of enjoying my time in Everything, I was becoming increasingly upset. Why pretend that the world is fine when it is not? Why not be honest about how messed up it is? Everything contains remnants of humanity but no humans. Animals do not participate in the food chain. There is no sickness or death or suffering.
And maybe that is why, at the end of my play time, I felt so angry—the game felt dishonest. Even simple games like Super Mario Bros. acknowledge and confront evil. Everything claims to cover the whole of existence but fails to speak to the one thing that everyone cares about: why is there evil in the universe? I recognize that my frustration is unfair, no video game or book or movie should be expected to have the answer to this quintessential question. Everything is a game designed to help us wonder again, to see things in ways that we haven’t in our busyness. However, everything is a bit too polished, a bit too good. We need to see the beauty and goodness in creation, yes, but while also being reminded that things aren’t right at the moment.
As it stands, Everything is a monument to a universe that doesn’t exist. But one day, someday, I hope to see that place in reality—where there is no death, no crying, and no sadness. Simply beauty.