A teenager whose father passed away when he was just six had pulled out an old Xbox game that he and his dad used to play together, only to discover a part of his father lived on in the game, as a ghost car. Strange and intriguing, isn’t it?
This is less strange than that sentence sounds. In racing video games, a ghost car is a representation of a previous player’s inputs and actions as they drove the track previously. In many of this type of game, the fastest laps are stored as ghost cars and then used by players to help them find the best line around a track. Or used as a competitor when there is only one player (as in a time-shifted way).
Here’s what the son said about the experience in the comments section of a YouTube video about gaming and spirituality:
Well, when I was 4, my dad bought a trusty Xbox. You know, the first, ruggedy, blocky one from 2001. We had tons and tons and tons of fun playing all kinds of games together – until he died, when I was just 6.
I couldn’t touch that console for 10 years.
But once I did, I noticed something.
We used to play a racing game, Rally Sports Challenge. Actually pretty awesome for the time it came.
And once I started meddling around… I found a GHOST.
You know, when a time race happens, that the fastest lap so far gets recorded as a ghost driver? Yep, you guessed it – his ghost still rolls around the track today.
And so I played and played, and played, until I was almost able to beat the ghost. Until one day I got ahead of it, I surpassed it, and…
I stopped right in front of the finish line, just to ensure I wouldn’t delete it.
So, in a surprisingly real way, this young man was able to once again play this rally game with his dad. As a father and grandfather myself now, I can imagine how powerful that feeling must be, that tantalizing mirage of closeness, a record of his father’s actions for those few moments, now preserved.
It’s really not much different than finding a handwritten letter — both would be direct results of thoughts and actions at a particular moment — just a little more active and fun.
There’s an awesome beauty within this little story — the dad’s still gone, the kid still has that loss, but a little remembrance like this ghost car is probably a bittersweet and valuable reminder of his father’s love and the good times long gone.