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Computer Games
Systems for Social and Spiritual Development

Survey of the "HEJERA GAMES" Proposal ©
by Dr. Yitzhak (Isaac) Hayutman, cybernetician.


CONTENTS

1. Introduction:

2. Redemptive Scenarios of the HEJERA Games.
2.1 METAMORPHOSIS:
2.2 MERKAVAH:
2.3 MESSIAH:
2.4 MORIAH/MIKDASH:
2.5 The interplay between the redemptive scenarios

3. The HEJERA GAME
3.1 Formal Description
3.2 Overall Image
3.3 (Arche)typical Pattern of Game and subgames.

4. Players and Aims in the HEJERA Games
4.1 Players
4.2 Aims of the Game
4.3 The Anima
4.4 Leading Feminine Roles for the HEJERA Games
4.5 Yishmael and Yitzhak as Procedures

5. Structure and Procedures of the Games
5.1 The Territory of the Games and the "Games Boards".
5.2 Verbal Domains
5.3 Modeling Facilities for the specific games.
5.4 "Pass-Over" and "Under-Standing" as Procedures:

6. Extensions of the game

7. Current Status of HEJERA Games.

Notes

Bibliography


1. Introduction:

Computer games are likely to become the educational workshop of the new generation. This paper is an attempt to formulate how this attractive new medium could be used for moral education and character development. It outlines a Games System called "The HEJERA GAMES". "HEJERA" is an acronym for the "Heavenly Jerusalem Association" in a Sciece-Fiction novel "the HEJERA PLOT", prepared by this author. However, these games might be developed as commercial computer games and in other contexts, some of which are discussed in the end of the paper. The paper describes the overall logic of the games system, not details of specific games and of methods of implementation.

In "The HEJERA PLOT", the HEJERA games are described as training facilities for Messianic Initiates. Through these, a secret organization called "The HEJERA" - the Heavenly Jerusalem Association is being formed, and actualizes its "P.L.O.T", namely, inducing the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) to undergo a Transformation into a sister Zionist agency (1). In other words, it is a story of ideological and psychological reconstruction on a barely conceivable scale.

In the particular story, game performances are meshed with another fantasy sequence which reproduces the journey of Abraham and Isaac, together with Ishmael, Eliezer, the donkey and another mysterious stranger, towards Mount Moriah. At each stage of that journey, the members of that party may come to other disagreements or agreements, and these set the parameters for the design of the next game (2).

The principle illustrated by this arrangement is that a games system can act as an integrated modeling facility of a complete reconstructive, or redemptive, curriculum; and the contexts, biases and payoffs of the game may be tuned at each round to the particular needs of the individual, or even group, that plays them New understandings reached at each game enable graduation to the next one. As a result, the environment is also reconstructed in an evolutionary manner into the pattern of the ideal city, the New Jerusalem. The contending visions about ideals are also reconstructed in the course of the games sequence.


2. Redemptive Scenarios of the HEJERA Games.

Already the name "HEJERA" (or Hijrah) implies a journey of transformation, or a decisive step in such a process. For the Prophet Mohammed, this was his leaving his tribe and his hometown of Mecca to spread his message to its traditional rivals. Likewise, God's first command to Abraham was to leave his land, his birthplace and his father's house, and to go to a new land which God will show him. This was the beginning of a long itinerary which peaked when God commanded Abraham to go to "the Land of Moriah".

The theme of a trying journey underlies all hero myths and sustains most adventure stories and their current mutation, the "Adventure Games". Mythical hero stories, and the really great adventure stories, can be understood (e.g. the myth studies of Eliade, Campbell, Jung, etc.) as guidelines to psychological dramas of human transformation. Ancient mysteries and initiation ceremonies used the mythical hero's journey as the framework for the spiritual development of the initiate.

Compared with ancient myth, utilization of myth in Adventure games is often shallow. Such games may pick and combine elements of disparate ancient myths and modern fantasy stories in the most eclectic manner, but generally they use only few strands of the myth, i.e. the dragon-fighting hero. The HEJERA PLOT and HEJERA Games have further spiritual and social motives and goals, they need elements of myth that parallels transformation, where the actor goes through inner changes in the course of his adventures.

Since our HEJERA project is geared to the cultural worlds of the Middle East and the Mid-West, the Bible (and the Koran) are the primary source of their mythos. These sources can nurture radical mythic elements, as evidenced in mystical undercurrents (Alchemy, Sufism, Kabbalah) within the monotheistic religions. The central concept of both the mainstream and the undercurrents of these religions is that of redemption, and the many meanings and synonyms to this concept offer rich resources for the HEJERA Games.

So while Greek myth includes the twelve labors of Hercules as an educational model, there are also many Christian exemplary itineraries for the progress of the initiate, such as of the mystic Saint-John-of-the-Cross' "Ascent of Mount Carmel" which includes "the Dark Night of the Soul", and the Puritan Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" to the Heavenly Jerusalem.

In traditional Jewish redemptive Scenarios, the redemption is generally social, the redemption of the community more than of the individual. Yet the individual acts of the Patriarchs prefigure the subsequent movements of the nation, and both itineraries of the Patriarchs and of the whole nation (e.g. the exodus from Egypt) can be exemplary for individual salvation.

Many related images of redemption were evoked in the course of delineating the games. Such images culminate in the HEJERA PLOT as a transformation symbolized by an A-to-Z transition of the Palestinians from Mount Arafat (a mountain near Mecca) by a winding path to Mount Zion.

In the formulation of the specific games system, these images were grouped into four a-priori distinct "Redemptive Scenarios", namely: ordered sequence of stages which lead to the desired transformation (KhayutMan, 1981). In the HEJERA Games we stuck to a most elementary notion of an ordered set of stages: the stages are games whose names follow the sequence of the alphabet. With the classical sequence of twelve stages (suggested by the trials of Hercules, the astrological scheme and the gates of the City of Revelation, among many others), and with the final goal being the thirteenth, we have a sequence from A to M. (if the "I" symbolises the individual's shifting state, this marks a course that recreates the "I AM" experience of our initiate).

The four goals, and their related scenarios, are thus called:

  1. METAMORPHOSIS;

  2. MERKAVAH;

  3. MESSIAH;

  4. MORIAH/MIKDASH.

We shall describe them briefly here.


2.1 METAMORPHOSIS:

This theme pertains to transformations and/or transmutations of "alchemical" flavour, where the material world is changed - and with it the mental world. Take for example the transmutation of sand (in Hebrew Hol, meaning also "mundane") as exemplifying a transition from the profane to the sacred. Sand particles are separate and unrelated, allowing nothing to grow. Sand can be transformed to fertile soil, and in alchemy-like fashion it can be melted to glass, of which there can be made vessels containing liquids and even light. Further transformations are to light bulbs, then radio tubes and then transistors and VLSI chips (with optical computers in future).

Through such transformations, more and more subtle contents can flow and "grow" in the material which becomes a brain. In the HEJERA context - that of "Building Jerusalem" - emerging cities become the containers of thought, of civilization as Global minds.

Viewing the process of the games as alchemical process, there is the original material - "Materia Confusa" in the shape of the remnants of the garbled "Library of Babel". These are subjected to various alchemical processes - Calcination, Dissolution, etc., in order to yield eventually the Philosopher's Stone, which gives the element, or the know how, to build the City of God, or how to dwell in the Heavenly Jerusalem.


2.2 MERKAVAH:

This pertains to transformations and transmutations of "Kabbalistic" flavour, where the conceptual world is changed. The image originated from the visions of "the Divine Chariot" of Ezekiel which became a primary subject for Jewish mysticism for several centuries, inducing ecstatic visions of divine realms. Current UFO cults and their frequent attempts to equate Ezekiel's flying chariots with spaceships and "Chariots of the Gods" give us some indication of the attraction of these visions. But it was the Hebrew sense of the word that gave the chief contents of this mysticism. The Chariot - Merkavah - is also "combination" or assembly. The exploration of "the workings of the Merkavah" was concerned with the celestial worlds - but also was concerned with combinatorial aspects of Hebrew letters and words. This notion remained through over twelve centuries of developing Jewish mysticism, and to Hassidism, even when the term Merkavah acquired other emphases. Following the Talmudic saying that "the Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and King David) are the Merkavah", this was generalized to a religious ideal - any person can become a Merkavah, a vehicle, that carries the divine.

In the HEJERA PLOT, recognizing the attraction of UFO's and spaceships for computer games users, the first idea is to build a Merkavah as a vehicle for traveling to the Heavenly Jerusalem. The talisman of the Magen David (the six-pointed star on the Israeli flag) is picked as a prototype for "an Inter-Space Ship", forming a vessel to lift one from This World (Olam haZe), to the Coming World (Olam haBa), of the Heavenly Jerusalem (3). If this is "the City of Understandings", this Merkavah means a vehicle which helps us cross over, Pass-Over to the meanings of the other side: an "interspace ship" shuttling between personal spaces thru reconstructions of their conceptual worlds. By playing these twelve games, the player builds such an "Inter-Space Vehicle" to transport her/himself to the Heavenly Jerusalem.


2.3 MESSIAH:

The agent of the ultimate transformation for both Jews and Christians is the Messiah (4). Their disagreements highlights the fact that no aspect of the redeeming agent is incontroversial. In both religions there are mystical intimations of a collective Messianic entity, and many freethinkers believe in Messianic movements and vehicles (a leading US Jungian confided to me a prophetic dream announcing "The Computer is the Messiah!").

An illuminating unrecognized intrinsic meaning of the English word "Messiah" is the combination "Mess-Iah" which like other Biblical names ending with Iah (or Jah) means "-of God". Thus the Messiah implies "God's Mess" - the ultimate transformation and "Dark Night of the Soul" transforming the Mess into Divine realm.

The relationships of the Messiah to matter (starting as Massa Confusa) are manifold. Jewish Midrashim say that "the Spirit on the face of the Water" of Creation was the Spirit of the Messiah, and that the donkey present at Isaac's binding will be the white donkey that the Messiah will ride upon entering Jerusalem. The real meaning of this parable is made apparent through the Hebrew letter combinations, where donkey (Khamor) has the same letters as matter (Khomer). Jung has shown that the endeavor of Christian Alchemists was essentially a Messianic-redemptive quest and that, for them, the "Stone" paralleled the Christ.

It is only to be expected that players of the HEJERA Games would aspire to reach the Messiah and/or be assisted by the Messiah. The HEJERA PLOT presents these games as training media for one to become a Messiah or a Messianic initiate.


2.4 MORIAH/MIKDASH:

To the extent that, implicit in the Bible, there is a Divine Plan for Mankind and the whole Earth - its pivotal point on earth is in Jerusalem and more specifically, in Moriah, the site of the Temple - Mikdash.

Abraham had an ambition, backed by Divine promise, to be the father to nations and humanity's greatest prophet who brings God's will to all mankind through his progeny. Yet he recognized God's command as greater than all these promised splendors. The place to show this preference was selected as Mount Moriah.

As Christian theology maintains Isaac's sacrifice (in Hebrew Isaac's Binding - Akedah) was a "type", a preview and model, for Jesus's crucification. Apparently Jesus was following Isaac in sacrifice and in the same place through his demonstration.

What is the meaning of Moriah? As hinted by the underlining above, the epitome of ever wanting more is wanting the Infinite God. Anything less is limited and limiting. So Moriah has to do with maintaining contact with the ultimate, with the whole, with the holy. In Hebrew, Moriah has to do with 1) a demonstration and show - Mar'eh; 2) with awe - Morah; and 3) with Teaching and Teacher(s) - Moreh. All these meanings are combined with the suffix Iah - one of the highest Names of God. Moriah is destined to bring the Vision of God, the Awe of God and the Teachings of God, and this is where Solomon's Temple - the Mikdash - was built and the Future Mikdash (whatever form it will assume) would be anchored to. Likewise Jerusalem-Yerushalayim, which surrounds Moriah, also means Yoru-Shalem - "future teachings of wholeness-holiness".

For the HEJERA PLOT, focused upon Jerusalem and aiming at worldwide reconciliation inspired by the Biblical faith, Moriah is a central symbol and goal. Since the Biblical stories are also allegories and models for spiritual transformations, so within the HEJERA Games Moriah and Jerusalem are also spiritual goals which are approached through fabulous territories and trials. This goal may be conceived as "the opening of the Third Eye" for "the Global Brain", with its location marked by the cube of the Temple/the New Jerusalem, just as the head Phylactery of the Jewish daily prayer is set over the alleged place of "the Third Eye" in the forehead. According to occult views, the vision imparted by "the third eye" would allow clear sight of the subtle workings of the worlds, from atoms to galaxies. We propose that the future Temple/Mikdash would be such an "exploratorium", where the unity of all creation - including the observer - is experienced.


2.5 The interplay between the redemptive scenarios.

Each of the four laudable goals above could have been the goal of a redemptive movement, with the stages leading to the goal comprising its redemptive scenario. The point of having four different, and seemingly competitive, goals is that redemption is to be accomplished by well-meaning people learning to understand others and to cooperate. It is very likely that any idealist will insist that his ideal should be followed by all to bring the redemption. It makes no essential difference whether I want you to worship my God because my God is strong or because my God is meek - it is still the human desire that you will play my game, and the resistance that this entails is certain to annul its gains.

The HEJERA Games play this conflict out. It is possible that all four ultimate goals are one and the same, but it is even more likely that they will lead in different ways. There are four 12-stage redemptive scenarios to the games and these are arrayed in parallel. Suppose there are four distinct players and each selects (or is assigned) his final goal, and with this he is aligned with a redemptive scenario of twelve stages to this goal. The game is contrived, however, that there is much overlap with the contents of the intermediate games, and all players must engage in the same one game for that stage. Having completed that stage, up to four different alternative continuations to the next stage are then possible. Obviously, each player would want the others to join and play his game. It is possible that one of the payoffs of each game is that the winner can name the next game, that is, the settings and context in which their next episode will occur.

If we consider our hypothetical curriculum made alternatively of game playing and then other mode of interaction (such as open discussion), the next game to be selected would be the outcome of this interaction which will draw the moral of the previous game. It is even conceivable that players would cooperate and synthesize the next game as a combination of several of the a-priory distinct alternatives they are faced with.


3. The Hejera Game

3.1 - Formal Description

The HEJERA GAME consists of an ordered sequence of twelve different games. Each new game can be selected from a choice of four different games. Thus there would be 412, or over 16 million, different possible sequences of the games (even more, noting the possibility of games synthesis described below).

Each sequence of the games traces a single redemptive course which may be applicable to an individual or to a group of players in the context of combined Global and Individual redemption.

1AlchemyAlphabetAdventureAkedah
2BubbleBoardBabelBabble
3CellCounterCrystalChrist
4DendriteDiscoveryDivisionDirection
5EcologyEcho-logyEarthEnvironment
6FormFolkFuturesFire
7GeometryGolemGematriaGeneration
8HejeraHavannahHermeticHeavenly
9IdentityIslamImitationIndividual
10JihadJerusalemJudgementJailbreak
11KhayutKeywordsKabbalahKodesh
12LetterLabyrinthLanguageLiberation
Aim:MetamorphosisMerkavahMoriah/MikdashMESSIAH


3.2 Overall Image:

A typical sequence is marked above, with its beginning and end underlined. It has many alternative intermediate steps. Such a sequence of 12 stages of the game describe the redemption as the multi-staged evolutionary construction of a "Global Brain", culminating in "the opening of the third eye" as the meaning of Moriah. The adventure story frame is the journey of Abraham and his companions towards Mount Moriah. Elements of the evolution of mankind adumbrated in the Biblical story of Genesis are enacted so that each stage evolves the game environment to the next one where further developments are feasible.

There may thus seem millions of different options, but it may become increasingly apparent during the sequence that they may all finally converge, and whatever route one takes eventually gets to the same place. So some procedures and other ways of relating to other entities one did not select at one time may recur in different ways. The point, moreover, is not to have many millions of different games, but to make Yikhudim (integrations), to try to invent versions in which at each stage there is the attempt to integrate some or all of the four concepts into one coherent story. The players may thus get extra grades for having enacted well two, three or four concepts together. It can be made that the player gained one or two or three or four "Gates" to pass through them to the Heavenly Jerusalem.

The Book of Revelation describes the Heavenly Jerusalem as having 12 gates, while the Zohar (Zohar Hadash, Noah) speaks of seven gates to the Heavenly Jerusalem set inside seven surrounding walls one inside the other. Jewish tradition also speaks of "the fifty gates of Understanding" (Binah) which the Kabbalah equated with the Heavenly Jerusalem. The Biblical Isaac had eventually merited "a hundred Gates" ("Mea She'arim").

In the HEJERA Games one needs several of the given fifty gates (explicitly 48) to enter the Heavenly Jerusalem. If you win and have your way each time in these games, you could make up to 12 on your own. If out of these fifty gates you have entered 7 then you can get into the Heavenly Jerusalem.

When played by several players, there may be a combination of competition and cooperation. It is very likely that one would want all players to play his games, and if he manages to do so 7 out of the 12 rounds then surely he is a leader. In such a case, when one has gained 7 out of the 12, no other player has a chance to gain 7 and enter as well. Yet the likely situation of such a competition is that no one will gain 7 gates and will win a full entry. Thus a more likely course is to cooperate with other players and enter more complex, combined games, that give a cooperative payoff - each of the participants has gained one gate.


3.3 (Arche)typical Pattern of Game and subgames.

Though different in settings, tasks and outcomes, these games have some typical patterns that make them "redemptive games". Given here is a prototypical example of such a pattern which applies to the overall game, and at least some elements of which will be found again and again in the various subgames.

The components of such a pattern are:

  1. Given setting with given elements and given means to manipulate them (one can be learning through the game what is "given")
  2. A competitive or other situation which allows extinction.
  3. Realization of frustration in given situation.
  4. A "fall" of some sorts.
  5. Clues from a "higher dimension" (external/quasi magical source)
  6. A trying endeavor, probably lonely, to introduce novel rules.
  7. Some communication between actors.
  8. Additional factors/actors, complicating the situation.
  9. A form of cooperation, intended or not.
  10. A breakthrough.


Contents   |   next section 4. Players and Aims in the HEJERA Games

Copyrights of proposal and of terms HEJERA, HEJERA PLOT and HEJERA Games:
The Hayut Foundation, POB 29659 Tel Aviv 61296, Israel.

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