I bought Osmos during the Steam sale a few days ago, and I must say it’s one of the best game-buying decisions I’ve made in my life. Not only is the game both beautiful and intuitively challenging, it’s also given me a new set of metaphors for life, which I’ll discuss a little bit in the next few posts.
In Osmos, you are an organism similar to a eukaryote, and you are traveling in an ecosystem swarming with other similar organisms. Your goal in each level is to become the dominant organism. To do that you must “eat” other organisms smaller than you, and repeat the process until you’re the largest multi-celled organism around. In order to eat the other organisms though, you have to catch them, and that brings us to our first life metaphor: propulsion.
Your organism can only move by expelling bits of itself in the opposite direction in which it wants to go. You could easily interpret this as a manifestation of Newton’s third law, “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” or as a metaphor for the biological process of absorbing and releasing energy. That may very well be the what the game developers were getting at, but in my mind what I was seeing was the sacrificed “part” being a metaphor for everything that we’ve been forced to give up in order to move forward in our lives. How often have you been faced with the decision of staying put or moving forward? And in the moving forward, what part of yourself did you give up? In the course of my life, I’ve had to give up friends, relationships, even action figures, in order to move forward in life. Whether or not those sacrifices were worth it is open to debate, but I cannot deny that I wouldn’t be where I am and who I am right now if I hadn’t given up a few things in exchange for some propulsion.