Computer Games
Systems for Social and Spiritual Development

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


1. Introduction:

2. Redemptive Scenarios of the HEJERA Games.
2.5 The interplay between the redemptive scenarios.

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.



4. Players and Aims in the HEJERA Games:

4.1 Players:

The story of "The Journey to the Land of Moriah" within the HEJERA PLOT serves as framework for the description of the HEJERA Games, determining the relations among the players at the start of each new stage. This story lists 6 characters who journey to Moriah: Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Eliezer, a Donkey and a mysterious "doppelganger" who may assume various forms.

In the games there are four principal players (two major and two minor):

  1. "Yitzhak" (Isaac, literally - He who will laugh) and

  2. "Yishmael" (Ishmael, literally - He who will listen). Each one hopes that he would gain the True Capital by gaining the "Yerusha", the legacy left by/promised to their father Abraham. They are accompanied by

  3. Eliezer (literally - God's help), their father's helper, who would also inherit it in case they do not. They have another helper with them in the (initial) form of

  4. a donkey (Hebrew Hamor, related, phonetically and traditionally to Homer, matter) who carries their various implements, but who also has a will of its own.

There are also a host of other feminine and masculine characters (see below), often of archetypal character. While the story may give detailed characters as a frame, these characters may then re-enter the games as a lingering impressions and forms of relating (like the smile of the Chesire Cat. Better still, like in Calvino's charming "Cosmicomics").

4.2 Aims of the Game:

All players have the same goal - "the World's Capital", which they conceive of as an ideal city. Though their goal is the same, they take different and individualized Aims. The set of Aims (see sec.2) includes: Metamorphosis, Merkavah, Moriah and Messiah. One's progress in this game, his "I" moving from his A to his M, traces A LIFELINE as one way to enter the city of heaven. The rules of the game, however, are such that players must collaborate at each stage, at least in the sense of "sharing the same reality" for that stage in the form of the same game settings. In consequence these a-priory separate lines or strands coalesce into a "rope".

Jewish tradition speaks, in Hebrew, about Hevle Mashi'ah, commonly translated as "the birth pangs of the Messiah", but which also mean, literally "the ropes of the Messiah". In the HEJERA Game, some sort of a rope or cord is neccessary, like the Ariadna's cord in the hands of Theseus in the complexities of the Labyrinth, because the territory the players traverse is as complex as the history of life on earth and of the human race, and there is a huge number of wrong turns and evolutionary dead ends.

In the "Journey to Moriah" story within the HEJERA PLOT, if Isaac is resurrected or the Akedah is somehow cancelled, then he is the winner, the inheritor, and then whoever has sided with him all the way, might co-inherit, in coalition with him. For example, the act of the Messiah entering the city riding his donkey is such a collaboration, allowing the donkey itself to enter the City of God. There are other ways of collaboration: of Isaac with Eliezer or of Isaac with Ishmael (implying a Christian-Jewish or Moslem/ Arab-Jewish cooperation) as ways to enter. On the other hand, of course there's likely to be desire of any of these actors for exclusive rights, hoping that Isaac will be eliminated through the Akedah and the remaining party will be sole heir to Abraham. So there is a combination of cooperation and competition in this game, which gives it a chance for drama.

The inheritance consists of the city of Jerusalem, but also the twelve tribes which will issue and comprise this new Israel, the next generation. The outcome of this game is an entity called "Israel", but it might be an Islamic Israel, or a Christian Israel, or a Jewish one or a combination of them. The material and animistic tendencies could also have their share in Israel, though the rules of the game, at least, give no chance for the animistic spirits to be exclusively Israel. (though the donkey/material may masquerade and exploit another actor, just like the "Beast" of the Book of Revelation exploits the Lamb).

4.3 The Anima

4.4 Leading Feminine Roles for the HEJERA Games:

Some figures already encountered in the game scenarios are:

  1. Lilith, Adam's First Mate who rebelled;

  2. Dinah, the 13th Tribe of Israel;

  3. Judith, non-Israelite wife of Ishmael.

    Other candidates suggested by the contexts are:

  4. Hagar, Abraham's wife (Sara's maid) Ishmael's mother;

  5. Le'ah, Israel's wife and mother of Judah;

  6. Sara, Abraham's wife, mother of Isaac; D. Rivka, Isaac's (only) wife, mother of Israel and Esau.

Traditionally, and often in the Kabbalah, the female role is seen as the receptive role. It is thus also the passive receiver, the homer. But she can also be the active - the seducer and temptress, playing with her powers and skills which originated from her need to receive the seed from the male.

There is a redemptive sequence of male-female relationships marked by the changed perceived roles of the female - the roles of the Mother, the Harlot, the Wife, the Sister and the Daughter.

It makes sense that the outcome of "the Game of Jerusalem" would be to produce "the Daughters of Jerusalem". Since the desire of the Messiah is clearly to enter Jerusalem, a desire which has strong sexual connotations, then a productive outcome is to produce the offsprings of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, says the Talmud (5), will become the metropolis, the mother city, to all lands.

It is even possible, thus, that a procreation and production of heirs of tribes within the large assembly comes through such a union of a player and an Anima. These become the mothers and of course then the drama of the game is a turning or changing, from a seductive figure like Lilith at first, to the sacred figure of a mother, through the transformation of becoming a wife.

4.5 Yishmael and Yitzhak as Procedures:

The names of the protagonists are really redemptive programs.

Yishmael (Ishmael) literally means "will listen to" and Yitzhak (Isaac) means "will laugh". The games should give special payoffs for listening (tuning in) and for laughing (turning a threatening situation into a joyful one; editing inhibitors). Such tuning and inhibition-editing operations should be presented as concrete operations in the modeling facilities provided by each game setting. Likewise, the name Eli'ezer has to do with assistance, meaning "God's help" or "towards help". Having defined Eliezer as the Christian strand, and the Messiah/Christ as connected with Messaye'a, helper, the name Eliezer appropriately represents "model Christian traits" of selfless service to others and these would be rewarded accordingly in the game settings.

The literal connection between the donkey (Hamor) and matter (Homer) was noted before. We note here that the Hebrew word Homer (usually understood as matter) also means "severity", such as in "severe judgement" (Homer haDin). The alchemical dimension of the redemption was noted above. We note here that the donkey, and matter, as actor in the game is true to itself when introducing constraints that, through interactions, give rise to structures.

5. Structure and Procedures of the Games

The HEJERA GAMES procedures would encompass exercises and demonstrations of skills for facilitating redemption. They should develop in the players' mind a pattern that integrates and harmonizes diverse aspirations; they should train in building understandings and joining them, and inspire building peace in the Middle East and within the person.

We intend to structure the HEJERA Game System in accordance with Pask's specifications for Conversational Domains (hence "Paskal Specifications"). In view of the redemptive aspirations noted above, we may intend also to make it into a "Paschal" (i.e., redemptive, related to the Pass-Over) program.

The Paskal specifications for a system of games would reflect design principles already developed in Pask's original work on Conversational Domains (Pask et al, 1975) and Conversation Theory (Pask, 1975 - hence C.T.) and their subsequent improvements. These principles include rules of multi-aim conversations and for building two-tier Conversational Domains. The latter include the higher (linguistic and logical) level of "Entailment Structures" for the game elements and the lower "Task Structures" within the appropriate modeling environment - namely, each specific sub-game. These task structures employ Program Building and Program Description procedures, generally as Languages for handling Objects and for describing Objects. Pask's approach has also a predilection for tessalation/cellular automata models.

The "Paschal" motive may add types of implicate Divine Ordering Influence (hashpa'at Shefa) and motivating Power, and also the notion of "Passing Over" as explicit procedures. Such influences and are common in fantasy games and are not difficult to model, but they may be difficult to believe in our age. The realistic approach may be to adhere to Pascal's probabilistic approach to such sublime matters (there may or may not be sublime factors, but the payoff, if they exist, is great).

5.1 The Territory of the Games and the "Games Boards"

In the story of The HEJERA PLOT, the two levels are distinct, the actors journey in a timeless Land of Israel and one of them, Isaac, returns each time to a cybernetic laboratory in Jerusalem were he plays a game on the computer with the representations of himself and of the other actors. In a complete HEJERA GAME version, these two levels would be integrated.

The list of sub-games (sec 3.1) is the higher lever map of the game and would, in fact, approximate an Entailment Structure. But this verbal map should underlie a more attractive and inspiring territory in which the game characters journey, which the HEJERA PLOT story calls "The Land of Moriah". (This is a name loaded with meanings: it means the land of Teaching or of Demonstration, also the land of Fear: awesome land, but also the land of mamrim, of rebels. It is a land which has not been conquered and has to become "Eretz Hakodesh").

The HEJERA GAME may portray this land in the form of some 50 loci. These loci can be in various places in Israel, they could also be places outside such as the legendary old Babylon, and the place on the road to Damascus, where Paul had his conversion. The game board may thus contain geographical sites associated with a historical sequence starting from Genesis or from Abraham, going to the present and the future. The games will have moves between these loci which, together, add up to a "redemptive curriculum".

5.2 Verbal Domains

One way to view the HEJERA Game is as an endeavor to build understandings between people who were formerly of alien or divergent or opposing positions. The understandings are generally semantic - there are some words which they agree upon, which they both believe in, or symbolize the same for them. As such words are acquired, they extend a coherent territory of understandings. The geographic-historic territory of the game is more than mere gloss, yet the underlying verbal domain is more fundamental. In case the game is extended and/or is played and built through networking (sec. 6 below), the verbal domain may have to stand alone.

It is thus possible to view the game as a Word Game - trying to construct words from available or growing resources, allowing more words of agreements and of understanding to be constructed. The common game is probably that of trying to construct something with only one's own words. The trick might be that words which are common to several players would have a bigger yield, cooperation in meaning would yield a higher payoff than an esoteric meaning which is right for one and wrong or meaningless for another.

It is important to note (and to prepare the field in such a way) that it is not just an emotionally indifferent field of word games. There are words which stand for painful experiences, for traumas, and these make the terrain far more intricate and problematic. All together, words, and their constituent letters, are the real stuff, the very material with which the games deal and much of the molding and modeling in the games is linguistic.

5.3 Modeling Facilities for the specific games.

The terrain/board/map of the game resolves to a network of nodes which are really addresses of operations, of tasks to be performed. Such a two-tier arrangement is used in the calculator games book (Pask et al, 1980) and is akin to the scheme used by classical and Renaissance orators (Yates, 1966). These tasks are also structured (the "Task Structures" of C.T.) and are performed within a special game environment (the "Modeling facilities" of C.T.).

It is beyond the scope of this paper to enumerate the many special simulated environments to be developed for these games. Neither elementary particles nor the intergalactic sky is the limit. We may note here just some early indications along a single line in the structure displayed above (sec. 3.1):

  1. An search in the labyrinth of sand dunes becomes, after finding its goal, a search for a meaningful expression in an endless chaotic library of shattered tablets of unknown alphabet.

  2. Mechanical and microbiological processes are undertaken to transform the engravings into bubbles in a murky medium. The actors try to incorporate themselves into bubbles assemblies.

  3. Bubble assemblies stabilize as self-organizing cells, struggle is rife and many types of cells can be attempted, of which few can become tissues and the coveted type is a "Temple Cell".

  4. Cells become packed together and effects of cellular automata become prominent, the superior ones of which become those that enrich their neighbor relations by sending searching dendrites.

  5. In a brain-like cellular environment, the developing entities are stable, even productive, echoes in reverberating circuits. The constructive and destructive interferences form an echology.

  6. An plastic environment for the interplay of sounds and forms. Sounds create forms (Cymatics) and forms call for reverberations. Coalitions of elaborate sounds and intricate knot forms are formed

  7. A geometrical playground for constructing living forms and spiritual entities, using geometric forms as generators of many alphabets (6), especially our HEJERA Cube.

  8. The HEJERA Cube resolves into an immense heavenly mansion where souls find their true position in a 3-D tessalation where they can communicate harmoniously with their neighbors.

  9. Action shifts back to within the human brain where some of the idealized forms are internalised within its noisy environment.

  10. Modeling of various movements within "the societies of mind".

We could go on, but this may give enough flavor. As noted, we are interested in geometrical environments, topology, cellular automata and other such esoterica. A noted pioneer (Kauffman, 1987) states that we deal with a realm where "we encounter wholes and parts, distinctions, pointers and indications, local-global, circulation, feedback, recursion, invariance, self-similarity, re-entry of forms, paradox, and strange loops. But we also find topology, knots and weaves, fractal and recursive forms, infinity, curvature and imaginary numbers! a panoply of fundamental mathematical and physical ideas relating directly to the central turn of self-reference". There is much choice of appropriate images and techniques to display the same issues. Some of them, notably fractal images (Peitgen & Saupe, 1988) are spectacular and readily available. The real questions are likely to be those of application - which of the many spectacular forms developed nowadays by computer scientists-artists are usable for practical game applications. Moreover, as we learn from Lewis Carroll, the clever mathematical constructs should stay in the background of the story and the Rev. Dodgson should stay out of it.

5.4 "Pass-Over" and "Under-Standing" as Procedures:

It is important to specify the procedures whereby people "Pass-Over" and understand each other, these operations are deemed as necessary ones for moving at all or for getting a dominion over the terrain. Perhaps paradoxically - by understanding someone on the same plot, you inherit it, if both understand each other then naturally they both inherit it. "Overpassing", on the other hand, is by assuming the other's viewpoint and returning back to one own (7). There is similarity but there are also distinctions between these Under-Standings and Passing-Over. Perhaps the former gives more a stand, gives more the inheritance; while the latter is a redemptive act, which opens a new path, a new direction.

Both seem as cognitive operations, but they have their many emotional sides which have to be explored. Cognitively, the game may consist of tasks or various operations which have to be done, but they may be emotionally difficult to do - in one sense or another sacrificial - and there must come some utility or good influence why undergo them. Perhaps the Under and the Over aspects of these operations have to do with Under-going into the realm of emotions and Over-stepping outside them to some new cognitive insights, to thoughts which are not held by one's ego.

It is a common practice for board games to have different positions on a board, some of which allow one to jump much forward and get a high payoff, others make a retrogression, make you lose something, bring misfortune - like "Snakes and Ladders" and many others. The game of Monopoly starts building up this terrain into sites, which are more beneficial for one than for another, though it has also some absolute positions which are good or bad for everybody. The HEJERA Game might be a game of building the terrain to become increasingly more beneficial for the two parties by transforming the bad sites, the places of deep buried bad memories into more favorable fruitful domain of understanding.

Let us now combine this notion that the board, the terrain, may contain both pleasure and pain, to the notions of operations of Under-Standing and of Passing-Over. Perhaps I can Under-Stand you when I stand in the place of your pain and feel it; whereas I Over-Pass, pass over (to) you, when I can assume for myself those things which give you the elation. I "Pass-Over" when I can get high on what makes you fly, or rather, when I can fly with what makes you high. If I can acquire the things which cause elation from the other person's system of belief or religion, I can find that they can work also for me.

The gaming board is thus three-dimensional: it has perhaps tunnels of Under-Standing, it has airways of Pass-Overs. So even if the positions themselves may seem empassable, separated niches and closed cells that allow only slow and difficult passage, the game builds a system of communications between them.

Through this system of communications, separate "letters" could combine into "words". Letters can contain that much animated intelligence (Hayut), whereas words can contain much more of it. By playing such a game on a computer, every connection being made, any association of letters into words, is marked as a graph connecting these positions. It can then be stored by the computer and next time you are over there your connections from this point can be displayed to you, and are much richer by the extra Hayut.

6. Extensions of the game:

The games described in The HEJERA PLOT and referred here are finite, but the HEJERA Game might be developed into an open-ended game, in the sense that actors can explore and form additional understandings of relevant related concepts which were not in the original set. Such understandings would be coded and stored in the growing game as additional nodes of the coherent network of topics (an "Entailment Mesh") which comprises the map of the territory upon which the game is played.

By networking, people can play such a game worldwide - they can form fan clubs of HEJERA Game players. So people can "Pass-Over" in public through computer networks the new understandings they achieved. A game system with marvelous-yet-serious contents and backed by computer networking can be a framework for building new types of communities and "Reform Clubs", the very HEJERA as "the Heavenly Jerusalem Association". (There are already many fan-clubs for "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and societies of the Dragons and Dungeons (D & D) Fantasy Games). The intention behind this enterprise is a more universal and spiritual reformation of Zionism. The story and the Games are thus conceived to have appeal in the Middle East as well as in the US MidWest and "Bible Belt", from where new varieties of Christian Zionism are emerging.

So far, we have discussed the games mainly as a package to be sold on the marketplace. Since we mean to have a game that sells in the Mid-West just as well in the Middle East, we need to give it an appropriate image. We may want to make it look and act as the world's most intelligent Christmas Tree, the Tree of Life and/or the Khanuka Candelbrae.

Yet much of what has been discussed here could be applied in different forms. The exploratorium notion mentioned above (sec. 2.4) could be used in an exhibition hall for a large audience, using projection techniques, lasers and other media unavailable on the small screens of home computers. There are ways to make a semblance of interaction and audience participation, as evidenced in the Czech pavilion at Expo67. In particular, making a "New Jerusalem Pavilion" at DisneyWorld would attract both adherents of Bible resurgence and of "New Age" lore.

A different way of developing the games would be as guide-package for Holyland pilgrimages or "spiritual safari" to Israel. Minimally, a written script can be prepared for each of the relevant sites where a group of pilgrims can enact it. As the new miniature portable computers become available, these could be taken along to guide inter-actions of greater complexity.

7. Current Status of HEJERA Games.

Beside work on the HEJERA PLOT which might make the concept known, work is underway to develop the games as a project of Computer Mediated Cooperative Work. A fairly sophisticated BBS with a data base has been developed for assisting various social innovations in Israel, and the HEJERA Games is the main project (as distinct from discussion forums) offered on it. This project section contains all reports and notes on specific games (curr. about 500K .) and will offer Illustrated and plain Text Adventure Generators (for PC and Amiga computers) so that people can compose sections for the system. This network will operate free of charge and be open for any user with a modem. This way, bright young computer wizkids who have skills, enthusiasm and time but no money for subscription to commercial network may join the work if they wish. It is intended to make copies of transactions and programs developed available on EARN, BitNet and ILAN (Israeli Academic Network) to offer participation to the academic community.

The notion of the tour guide package mentioned above has been suggested recently by a reviewer, and will be developed soon in an elementary form. The main current task is the preparation of a detailed project proposal with a budget and a feasibility study for the HEJERA Games as commercial computer games with animation.


  1. The idea of formulating "The HEJERA PLOT" and the HEJERA Games System is akin to the Rosicrucian manifests where a fantasy about a secret society led to the establishment of one (Yates, 1972).

  2. A similar two-tier structure is employed in Pask, Glanville and Robinson's (1980) "Calculator Saturnalia" games book. The concept of two-tier structure is explained by Robinson in this volume.

  3. The Rabbinical Jewish distinction between This World (Olam haZeh) and the World to Come (Olam haBah) was often developed in Christianity and later Judaism into a mutual exclusion, with the latter often meaning "the hereafter" after death. But the proper etimology and various legitimate interpretations (e.g. in the Kabbalist and Hassidic doctrines) is that Olam haBah is "the Coming World" which is constantly penetrating into this world to transform it. My interpretation (Hayutman, 1988) which echoes Buber is that Olam haZeh is an alienated world of object-relations and Olam haBah is the welcoming world of inter-relations. The transition between these world, hence the redemption, is thus a transformation of consciousness.

  4. Shi'ite Islam also has a messianic figure - the Mahdi who is the hidden 12th Imam of Islam who disappeared over a thousand years ago and many await his return at any day. Such messianic hopes certainly added to the attraction of Houmeini in Iran.

  5. The saying is of the third century sage Rabbi Yohanan who gave several predictions about the future Jerusalem, emphasizing her material side, apparently in a covert disputation with Christian notions of the New Jerusalem (Kimelman, 1980).

  6. Investigations of the structures related with letters are common in Jewish Mysticism, for at least the last 1500 years. There are hundreds of interpretations of Sepher Yetsira. The current research of the MERU Foundation, POB 1738 San Anselmo, CA 94960 corresponds with the intentions of this project.

  7. The concept of "Passing-Over" as a process of comprehension was developed by the Catholic theologian Dunne (1972). He developed it in the context of interfaith dialogue when a person passes over to the religious world of the other and immerses himself in it, and only then return to his own religion with a new perspective. We propose to extend the concept to systems of belief in general.


J. Dunne, 1972: "The Way of All Earth". N.Y., McMillan.

Y. I. KhayutMan, 1981: "Cybernetic Basis for Human Reconstruction: An application for the Middle East". Unpublished Ph.D Dissert. Brunel University, England.

Y. I. Hayutman, 1988: "Olam, Adam veAdama" (World, Mankind and Living Earth) in Muda'ut (Consciouseness) #29 (in Hebrew).

L. H. Kauffman, 1987: "Self-reference and recursive forms". J. Social Biol. Struct. 10, 53-72.

R. Kimelman, 1980: "Rabbi Yohanan and Origen on the Song of Songs:

A Third-Century Jewish-Christian Disputation". Harvard Theological Review 73:3-4.

G. Pask, 1975: "Conversation, Cognition and Learning". Elsevier.

G. Pask, D. Kallikourdis and B. C. E. Scott, 1975: "Representation of Knowables". Int. J. of Man-Machine Studies 7, 15-134.

G. Pask, R. Glanville and M. Robinson, 1980: "Calculator Saturnalia". Vintage Books, NY and Wildhouse, London.

H-O Peitgen and D. Saupe, 1988: "The Science of Fractal Images" Springer.

F. Yates, 1966: "The Art of Memory". Routledge & Kegan Paul. Penguin Books, 1969 & 1978.

F. Yates, 1972: "The Rosicrucian Enlightenment". Paperback edition Ark Paperbacks, London & NY, 1986.


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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