Cyberpunk 2077 is one of the latest success stories in the burgeoning videogame business. Featuring the popular actor Keanu Reeves, it exploded off the shelves when introduced, with approximately 13 million pre-orders and in-store and on-line sales. It was anticipated to be a $300 million bonanza for its developer, CD Projekt, a small firm in Poland.
But that was not to be, at least not yet. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the introductory version of the game was so loaded with bugs that within days Sony pulled it from its PlayStation store and customer complaints came flooding in. CD Projekt made the smart move of offering refunds and an apology while making dozens of corrections to fix the problem. Today the game is projected to reap $700 million in sales.
But that's not the important part of this story. What struck my eye as I read the WSJ article was not the business acumen of the CD Projekt folks, although every bit of it is laudable and good example for all businesses and politicians too. No, it was the story of the game itself and the passion with which its prize is pursued.
Every game has a prize that encourages players to strive to achieve through skill, understanding of the game's quirks, and playing experience. Players of Cyberpunk 2077 are seeking a unique implant that will lead them to the game's ultimate grand prize.
That prize? What we are all seeking: immortality. Millions of videogamers are striving mightily to achieve their prize.
Christians are striving for the same prize: eternal life as promised by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But I wonder if we are working quite as hard as the gamers to attain our mutual and identical goal. "I've put hundreds of hours into it," gushed one Cyberpunk gamer.
Let us count the hours. A good practicing Catholic will attend Mass virtually every Sunday. As each Mass generally lasts about an hour, that's roughly 52 hours per year, almost exactly half what our gamer friend expends in the pursuit of her goal.
Let us also consider the fact that less than half of self-identified Catholics do actually attend Mass on a regular basis. If they go only half the time that's only 26 hours in the presence of our Lord. Once a month? That's only twelve.
Of course there are those exceptional believers who attend Mass daily, but they are few, and their hours barely make a dent in the total time expended by people who say they believe in Jesus Christ, his redeeming passion, and his gift of eternal life, a.k.a., immortality in his presence.
Gamers bask in their skills and work feverishly to achieve ever higher levels of expertise and achievement. These are things they can brag about, and which place them on a higher plateau among the ranks of their peers. Fellow gamers envy them.
We might do well to consider the fact that the concept of immortality as the grand prize in a videogame appears to attract more enthusiasm and passion among its players than the prize of eternal life inspires from the average, Church-going Catholic.
I think St. Paul, who had some good ideas about how to compete in a race, might also be able to advise us on the effort, the good fight one might say, that we need to exert to achieve our grand prize.