My peak? Would I even have one? I hardly had had anything you could call a life. A few ripples. some rises and falls. But that’s it. Almost nothing. Nothing born of nothing. I’d loved and been loved, but I had nothing to show. It was a singularly plain, featureless landscape. I felt like I was in a video game. A surrogate Pacman, crunching blindly through a labyrinth of dotted lines. The only certainty was my death.
―Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance
Some days I spent up to three hours in the arcade after school, dimly aware that we were the first people, ever, to be doing these things. We were feeling something they never had – a physical link into the world of the fictional – through the skeletal muscles of the arm to the joystick to the tiny person on the screen, a person in an imagined world. It was crude but real. We’d fashioned an outpost in the hostile, inaccessible world of the imagination, like dangling a bathysphere into the crushing dark of the deep ocean, a realm hitherto inaccessible to humankind. This is what games had become. Computers had their origin in military cryptography – in a sense, every computer game represents the commandeering of a military code-breaking apparatus for purposes of human expression. We’d done that, taken that idea and turned it into a thing its creators never imagined, our own incandescent mythology.
Then you my goddess with your immortal lips smiling
Would ask what now afflicts me, why again
I am calling and what now I with my restive heart
Desired: Whom now shall I beguile
To bring you to her love?
Who now injures you, Sappho?
For if she flees, soon shall she chase
And, rejecting gifts, soon shall she give.
If she does not love you, she shall do so soon
Whatsoever is her will.
Come to me now to end this consuming pain
Bringing what my heart desires to be brought:
Be yourself my ally in this fight.
I grew up playing Risk, that wonderful board game where you became a colonial power, spreading your chosen color over the globe until you were made victorious through a combination of strategy and the luck of the dice. The game is still my favorite, but I have come to wonder why there are no local uprisings, and why all of the winners are colonizers rather than indigenous peoples. There are no natural disasters like weather or disease to contend with either.
I ran across this fascinating article by Colin Campbell and thought it was a very interesting take on where humanity might be headed as foretold by one of our modern strategy games. Would any of these technologies be beneficial or would they be insanely powerful to the point of disaster? Everything has its pros and cons.
Read the full text of the article by clicking here.
The title of Firaxis’ game is Civilization: Beyond Earth, which implies a growing consciousness that the actual Earth is nearing the end of its usefulness to humanity. Like children playing office, the human race is getting ready for something that will require us to grow up. The nature of being human will change radically if Earth is no longer our home, supposing that we can survive at all without her. This game is the Risk of a new era, wise enough to see that merely winning wars and subjugating others isn’t enough, but not yet ready to abandon the colonization mindset. As we play, so we are.
Very well. He’d lighten up. As a matter of fact, he felt as light as the bubbly froth that flew from the lips of the waves. Whatever else his long, unprecedented life might have been, it had been fun. Fun! If others should find that appraisal shallow, frivolous, so be it. To him, it seemed now to largely have been some form of play. And he vowed that in the future he would strive to keep that sense of play more in mind, for he’d grown convinced that play–more than piety, more than charity or vigilance–was what allowed human beings to transcend evil.
We could see the children’s toys here and there, and we saw a game that the children had made themselves out of dirt, deer antlers and abalone shells, but the game was so strange that only children could tell what it was. Perhaps it wasn’t a game at all, only the grave of a game.