Oases is about a grandfather. Armel Gibson's (the creator of the game) grandfather to be exact but it's so much more than that. On the game's website, Gibson describes the game like this:
"My grandfather's plane was reported lost in 1960 during the Algeria Independence War, days before the birth of his first child. This is what I like to think happened to him."
Those last words are the ones that get to me the most.
Oases starts out with a plane (presumably Gibson's grandfather's plane) going down. But instead of crashing and smashing to bits on the ground below, it falls into a portal that brings the plane to insanely beautiful and minimalist environments. The music that plays is entrancing and beautiful. It ebbs and flows like water and once the song ends you find yourself in another beautiful environment. From what I understand, this goes on endlessly.
When my grandmother passed away a couple of years ago, I didn't get a chance to go to the funeral. I had been knee-deep in "studies" -- as she liked to call them -- and I couldn't risk leaving in middle of the semester to properly pay my respects. This was a selfish choice [this was a very selfish choice]. And a couple of months later, I had found out that we were having a separate ceremony here in the States for all the people (like myself) who couldn't make the trip to the Philippines.
There's something extremely relaxing about watching this game being played and probably playing it. Before I get my hands on it, I can help but expect a zen like feeling to rush over me while I sway in between trees or right through them. From what I've read/understand, there's no end game here. There's nothing that will bring you back to the start of game. It's just a constant flight.
The days leading up to the stateside ceremony. I was spending more time in front of a television or a screen. I had majored in Film Studies and I was required to watch a lot of different films. One of which, by Ingmar Bergman, called Wild Strawberries stuck with me. And I think a lot of it had to do with the recent passing of my grandmother. In the movie, the main character passes away at the end and finds himself in a place he enjoys. An old memory, in a field of wild strawberries.
And I soon learned that the "field of wild strawberries" is a metaphor for an old memory or a time in your life that you return to eternally. It's a way some people explain the afterlife and the things that happen to our soul after our bodies fail us. I remember spending an enormous time crying to myself after the credits had started rolling.
I don't want to claim to know Gibson's grandfather anymore than he knew his grandfather. But it seems that Gibson's take on his grandfather's life and his interests have to do with flying. I think that's a fair assumption to make if his grandfather was a pilot. And then those words come back to me, "This is what I like to think happened to him". We all know that death is the end of life but I really enjoy the idea of Gibson's grandfather falling into the afterlife almost instantaneously, continuing to do something that he loved to do for an eternity. There's something wonderful about trying to imagine what a loved one's personal heaven might be like.
When I stood up at the podium during my grandmother's ceremony, I was nervous. I saw a lot of my relatives crying. Some of my cousins, who are covered in tattoos from knuckle to shoulder, were heaps of who they were normally. I tried to speak as clearly as I could without crying. I felt like I was speaking for all of us. But more importantly, I felt like I was talking to my grandmother.
I remember talking about the way she would teach me how to garden properly. And the way she taught all of us -- her grandchildren -- important cultural dances. I remember saying something about the Bergman film. And how it had affected me. And how I don't really believe in too much (even though I was standing in a church) but I do believe that I'll see her again, in that field of wild strawberries.
From what I could remember and what I was told by my aunts and uncles, my grandmother had passed in bed. She was old (almost 100 years old to be exact) and fighting illness. I remember the night I found out she had passed away. It was almost 4 in the morning in New York, in my parents house. I couldn't sleep and was playing a video game. I heard the phone ring and I heard my mother answer the phone. It was quickly followed by a scream, her scream, and then sobbing. Loud. Sad. Deafening. I closed my laptop. Curled into a ball on my bed under all the covers. Afraid. Afraid of something that I couldn't really put a finger on. That I can't really put a finger on now. I closed my eyes and went to bed.
The next morning, I woke up. My mom, smoking a cigarette, eyes still puffy, told me the news. I think I said I know. And we held each other. In air thick with sadness and smoke.
But that was our morning. That was the way things happened for us.
My grandmother on the other hand, closed her eyes then reopened them. She looked down at her body and it wasn't frail or fragile or ridden with sickness. She was herself. When she got up from the bed, she was in house that felt familiar but it wasn't one she's ever lived in. She walked out back to the balcony and looked at her back yard. There were different types of flowers growing around the border of the yard and in the center there were orange and apple trees, it was a big yard.
She walked back in to get herself a drink, a coffee or a tea, and walked down some steps into the basement. There she saw a dance studio. And she saw her grandchildren as she remembers them and children she's taught dances to along the way. We all greeted her with a smile and a giant hello. We all asked her to dance. She joined. And we all smiled.