The Future of Gaming must be Virtual Reality
Transhumanism. A movement whose philosophical basis lies in a repudiation of the human as a limited being. Homo sapiens must move forward. But where should, or will, we go?
With advances in cognitive science and computer technology, scientists have spliced and fully mapped real human brains down to the neuronal level. Advances in cybernetics and biomedical engineering have allowed others to create “hybrots,” or machines that function based on synaptic connections between real neurons that communicate information to and receive information from these machines. Synthetic biology as a field continues to grow as well. And as such, we can expect more semi-biotic systems will be created in the near future.
As we learn more about the human brain- the localization of its functions and the functions of particular locations- we come ever closer to creating man-machine interfaces. Interfaces that will expand human consciousness and extend human life indefinitely. The human species is as most species. It is vulnerable to the vicissitudes of nature and to itself. We cannot go on forever in our current biological forms. Hospitals and modern medicine have extended the lives and the dna of those most susceptible to disease. It has created “superbugs” by disenfecting and leaving only the strongest viruses and bacteria to evolve into forms more difficult for us to combat. And if disease won’t kill us, our Red Dwarf sun will eradicate us in 5 billion years.
But beyond all of these existential concerns (and all existential concerns) is entertainment and the lower-order social and political landscape in which we live. This year, Oculus VR plans to release the “Rift:” a new virtual reality gaming headset. The Rift will be a more total immersive experience than any other widely available gaming console. However, it is not as immersive as many thinkers and artists have imagined the future of vr to be.
In the acclaimed anime “Serial Experiments Lain,” director Ryutaro Nakamura envisions a world where virtual reality becomes intertwined with the real world. Although Nakamura’s vision of the physical melange of simulated and physical reality borders on mystical, the narrative’s story of a virtual reality game intersecting with the world as experienced (I hesitate to say “real world”) through the actions of individual players is a reality in the making. In “Lain,” a computer program has created a hack-and-slash style virtual reality game in which players must defeat demons in a relatively vapid, void online world. However, the game directs a few of these players to destroy not just sprites, but other characters in the “real” world who correlate spatially with the demons in the virtual world. Naturally, this becomes a social and political problem as many gamers continue to die off due to the work of an anonymous programmer who cannot be prosecuted.
In Tomohiko Ito’s anime series, “Sword Art Online,” a programmer, Akihiko Kayaba, creates the titular vr mmo. Individuals are connected to the game by a “nervegear” (or “amusphere” in the subtitled release), which sends feedback from the game to the player and vice versa through a man-machine interface of neural connections and electronic signals. The first 10,000 fans who get the game in the pre-order enter the game and find that there is no “log out” option. Kayaba has locked them into the game until someone defeats the 100 floor dungeon castle and all of its bosses. If someone tries to manually remove a character from the game from the outside world, the nervegear sends an electric signal to the player’s brain and “fries” them, killing them instantly. If a player dies in-game, the player does likewise in rl (real life).
These and other narratives tell us not only what to expect for the future of gaming and immersive online connections, but what future problems we may have to deal with as well. We move toward the future with enthusiasm for the limitations we will transgress. We recognize the dangers of our moving toward it. But we most go.