Because of the advances in machines fabrication, things that used to be considered priceless now look “cheap”. If you buy a diamond, the convention is to get flawed ones, because flawless ones can now be man made. Go about 100 years and people would have been falling over themselves for a perfect diamond.
Or take Damien Hirsch’s skull. It’s supposed to be a comment on power and money… or something? Maybe it’s just Hirsch being prick, but the point is if you look at it … it looks really gaudy. It looks cheap. It’s like those “blinged out” iPhone covers you see in the mall.
Anything with too much gold or jewels looks like costume jewelry. Other things now are valued for different (but equally inane) reasons. Dre headphones cost quite a bit, and people buy them for their name. Not for their sound quality (I assure you). The metrics for determining value change but it’s basically the same system. What a weird world we live in.
Sometimes I go to forums and talk game design theory. It’s just really interesting stuff even if you don’t play games. In the process of one conversation I wrote out a really crazy long reply and I felt like posting it.
So I had a thought I was mulling over in my mind.
Batman has been around 70 years. Comic book characters are revamped over and over and over again. They’re retold constantly, kind of like a modern equivalent of the oral storytelling tradition of mythology.
Many video games repeat in a similar way. That’s a huge part of the Final Fantasy and Zelda series.
Now of course not all video games do this. Particularly in western developers you tend to have more arc based stories with a finite stretching point. And technology changes, and so games series are constantly going in and out of fashion. Sonic has been nearly beaten to death, and despite it being the 25th Megaman anniversary, you don’t see a single game coming out for it this year. Even so I think we can probably expect new games to be coming out for those series.
Zelda, Metroid, Megaman, Castlevania, alot of these games have just celebrated their 25th anniversaries. That’s a quarter of a century. I would bet they’re probably going to stick around for awhile longer.
What I would like to discuss is a little more specific than “What is the future of gaming/these franchises?” I’d like to take the discussion further.
It’s a given that the tech and game design mechanic innovations are going to change, and trying to predict is going to be hard. So what is going to be the future of these games from narrative and mythos perspective.
Think about how Batman has changed in 70 years. Pulpy villians of the week, campy weird TV shows, gimmicky gadgets, brooding macho psychopaths, deep character driven stories. There’s this deep well of history behind this character, just acquired over time.
Where do you think the video game equivalents might go? What would it feel like to watch your great-grandkids play the newest Zelda game? Or hell you play it with them. The name Hero of Time takes on a new meaning, eh? Or Final Fantasy XXVI. That was a hidden joke in Deus Ex, but that might actually come out someday.
I think we can expect Final Fantasy to expand as a brand more and more and more. They’re constantly adding direct sequels and side stories to the franchise. I think eventually you are going to see a dissipation of the hardline numbered series into a vast franchise brand, similar to Disney. Final Fantasy has a lot of affinities with the Disney brand, not just in their Kingdom Hearts involvement. I think the corporate philosophy behind them is also pretty similar. Disney loves to market and monetize their IPs as much as possible. SquareEnix also has a similar drive to create physical loot and swag for their players. They reissue games, they’re more agressive than any other third party on the Nintendo platform for getting their games redistributed. Much like Disney limits the number of DVDs they let out of the vault, Square Enix loves their limited editions.
I think Zelda is probably most analogous to Batman in these examples because the focus on non linear, nonsensical, un connected mythology enables the mythological retelling of Link to go pretty much uninhibited ad infinitum. Batman doesn’t have to worry about continuity because comic book continuity is so freaking crazy that the average fan doesn’t know it and doesn’t care. Batman is recreated so many times that people don’t see him as “a man but a symbol”. The two most iconic version of Batman in the last 20 years have been Nolan’s movies and Frank Millers Dark Knight, and neither of those is even canonical. Link doesn’t give a fuck about canon (though the new timeline is interesting, lets face it. It’s going to get weird again before long). I think in 70 years Zelda will probably be still around, but the number of incarnations will be so huge and multifaceted that it’s going to take on a particularly different tone in peoples minds. Zelda has that repeating mythology at it’s heart and thats just going to grow deeper and deeper.
Mario? I guess he’ll be around, but I don’t know how. He’s called the Mickey Mouse of video games, and that’s probably a good clue. Last time I check Mickey doesn’t come out in anything new anymore, but I don’t think Nintendo is just going to stop making Mario games. Though maybe they will. Mario already is beginning to take on an absurd level of abstraction in his stories. At the beginning of Galaxy 2 you can practically hear him groan “Ugh. Not this again.” While Mario World felt like it took place in a real kingdom with continents, geography etc, Mario Galaxy 2 has you running around blank space riding on a ship made out of your own head. Which is pretty absurd. Maybe he’ll just be like the Monopoly Guy or something, where no really pays attention to him, so abstracted and repeated that he ceases to be a character and just becomes a trademark.
Metroid, Castelvania, and Megaman all have much more tenuous futures I think. They haven’t been given quite the same attention or esteem as the rest. I’d say we might very well see Megaman become like Felix the Cat. Everyone knows him but doesn’t really care.
But then again, what do I know? I’m not a wizard.
The world isn’t always black and white. It’s shades of gray. It’s dirty snow, slick black ice and tired refrozen sleet. Ah! It’s more than that. You just see the world with color blind eyes.
You recognize a face. Two eyes, a nose, a mouth. Some semblance of humanity. Even in deformity, you can see it, beyond that cleft palette, tumorous skin, or gaping eye socket. It’s a human face, something you can see.
Be blind to it, you can’t see it anymore. Think, your brain, just a jumble of data, software evolved over the years, and it’s built to see faces, sometimes where there are none. You see a smiling face with bacon and eggs, but it’s just bacon and eggs. It’s not a person, and you can’t make it happy even if it were. You can’t ever make it happy.
Beyond that, with your insignificant human life there is a vast world, beyond all the seminars, handshakes, hotel greeting cards, and smiling stock photo faces in store bought frames. Beyond all this, are worlds vast and old. Thinks older than these monkey face twitches that make sounds and words. Beyond this communication, are things older than the first crawling thing on planet earth.
Yes aliens, beings from out there, completely separate and evolved trees. Those things you take for granted, two legs, a mouth, two eyes, a carbon based molecular system, not universal. Just shallow and personal idiosyncrasies that no one else shares. You see with color blind eyes.
Morality isn’t black and white, or gray. It’s a range of colors more complex than a square trying to understand a cube. You won’t be able to do it, because you can’t.
You’re lucky though. The monsters aren’t evil. They aren’t some vicious invaders who think that the best thing in this bizarro world is raping your planet and enslaving your species. They simply don’t care. You haven’t even registered as a dot to them yet.
But think, what does a mind like this think when they see you? Not a face with two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. It’s just a collection of random mushy bits, flesh overlaid an abstract painting, inkblot biology, make of it what you will. The same is true of your brain, your thoughts, and what you think is right or wrong. They aren’t trying to kill you or cause you pain. They think that what they are going to do is the right thing. They think they are going to help you. They think this for your own good. They are infinite—we are finite. They know the whys, while we grasp for wisdom. Their ways are not our ways and Their thoughts re not our thoughts. The Strangers work in mysterious ways.
Describe an Orange and Blue morality
Eyes that can see for 3 miles, under any conditions, with GPS readouts and facial recognition software. Ears that can hear nano vibrations and can hook into visual software for echo location feedback. Fingers with no fingerprints. Thermal sensors. Neural networks with fiber optic speeds. New cranial firmware. A spine of steel. Straight jacked hypoallergenic full broadband internal ports. In Chrome or Gold. The hottest trends fly off the shelf. New eyes. New faces. New brains. The revolution is here. I’m just left out in the cold. This is a world where I can upgrade my mind, my body, my soul. If I have the cash. Which I don’t. Some things never change. Being poor is one of those. However. Today I’m getting my first implant. I’ve been saving for three months for this. Three months of cleaning up vomit from drunks who drank too much and overloaded their cheap nanotech livers. Three months of cleaning up leaking brain fluids from stupid college kids experimenting with new neurotoxin viruses and need to be rebooted. Today I’m getting my first implant. I feel like Charlie in the Chocolate factory. Hanging around me are carbon-fiber arms that can crush concrete blocks, hydraulic legs that can pump harder and faster and jump higher than any human Olympian. Over in the corner, in the half off bin, I see what I came here to have plugged in my head. I walk over and pick them up out of the dusty cardboard sale’s box. Empathy Emulators implants. Their made with cheap plastic. Safe for the head but old. Their gray and dusty like the Super Nintendo cartridges that my grandfather had in his attic. I go over to the surgeon/cashier and check them out. Prompt by Daily Fix: That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. The biotech revolution is upon us, and for today’s prompt you’re going to write a scene where you introduce a character who is just getting/has just gotten their first implanted piece of biotechnology.
Eyes that can see for 3 miles, under any conditions, with GPS readouts and facial recognition software. Ears that can hear nano vibrations and can hook into visual software for echo location feedback. Fingers with no fingerprints. Thermal sensors. Neural networks with fiber optic speeds. New cranial firmware. A spine of steel. Straight jacked hypoallergenic full broadband internal ports. In Chrome or Gold.
The hottest trends fly off the shelf. New eyes. New faces. New brains. The revolution is here. I’m just left out in the cold.
This is a world where I can upgrade my mind, my body, my soul. If I have the cash. Which I don’t. Some things never change. Being poor is one of those.
Today I’m getting my first implant. I’ve been saving for three months for this. Three months of cleaning up vomit from drunks who drank too much and overloaded their cheap nanotech livers. Three months of cleaning up leaking brain fluids from stupid college kids experimenting with new neurotoxin viruses and need to be rebooted.
Today I’m getting my first implant. I feel like Charlie in the Chocolate factory. Hanging around me are carbon-fiber arms that can crush concrete blocks, hydraulic legs that can pump harder and faster and jump higher than any human Olympian. Over in the corner, in the half off bin, I see what I came here to have plugged in my head.
I walk over and pick them up out of the dusty cardboard sale’s box. Empathy Emulators implants. Their made with cheap plastic. Safe for the head but old. Their gray and dusty like the Super Nintendo cartridges that my grandfather had in his attic. I go over to the surgeon/cashier and check them out.
Prompt by Daily Fix: That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. The biotech revolution is upon us, and for today’s prompt you’re going to write a scene where you introduce a character who is just getting/has just gotten their first implanted piece of biotechnology.
When my parents were kids they had slow ass computers. My mom had 8 gigs of RAM and a hardrive with only a single terabyte. What the hell? They told me is was worse for their parents, bukt that’s hard to believe. Fucking stone age.
When my mom was 15 the first computer hit 1.5 petaflops, which was the estimated processing ability of the human brain. Then by the time she was 25 they already had personal home computers running at 1.7 petaflops. My newest computer has more processing power than the entire human race put together.
Which is pretty impressive I know. Last year my computer only had half that power. Downloading items took foreeeeeever. Like if I wanted a sandwich I had to wait something like 30 second before it would spit one out. Like what the hell? I have stuff to do. I have to plug into Facebook, and I can’t multitasking it printing physical objects and also hook into a worldwide neural network hive mind at the same time. If I do that it starts fragging out, and I have to get brain replacement surgery or something. Which is like a real hassle you know?
With this new computer though, its super fast. I plugged into my mom’s computer, and I was looking through her files. She barely uses her machine, like 10 hours a day at most. She doesn’t even sleep with it on, which I think is weird, because that means that when she is asleep she isn’t really doing much anything with her brain. That’s the best time to get on tumblr. But yeah, she did get a huge harddrive because she has a lot of stuff she hoards. She says that she is just sentimental. She keeps all these mementos scanned in to her hard drive, all just dumped on the desktop background. The postcard she received from my dad when he was on study abroad in Thailand, my first birthday cake (she always jokes about how we can now “Have our cake and eat it too, har har har” as if that joke is new every time she says it), her wedding dress, or pictures (physical pictures? Like whats the point, you know?) of things from when she was a kid.
I wanted to put my new computer to the test, so I picked the biggest file. The wedding dress. I transferred and printed it, and here it is. I was just curious. I mean, I am not weird or anything. Its not like I am into physical clothes or something. I’m not a prude, and my mom says guys used to wear dresses too! That’s what my mom says at least though she always smiles when she says it. I barely see anyone wearing actual clothes anymore. Most everyone wears what ever firmware version of the new digital smart wear is in style at the moment. Having actual cloth on me feels a little weird.
That’s when my mom nearly walked in on me. Luckily I just thought about the delete key and it fizzled off me in a second. Thank God my new computer is so fast. Trying to delete a file like that in the past would have taken at least a couple of seconds longer.
Prompt by Douglas Chin:I want you to write about how things go from extraordinary to ordinary. For example, sometimes in the future, humankind will discover faster-than light methods of traveling. In the present, that’s a concept we can barely wrap our heads around. What would it be like if you grew up in a world where it was a common thing? Conversely, way back when, people thought cars were a crazy invention. Now cars are a part of our everyday lives. How far, will humankind go in its advancements? Tackle the when, what, how, and if of us hitting our limit. Or just write about the time you were almost caught trying out your mom’s wedding dress, yes, I know all about that.
The sky felt hallow, completely empty, like a hall so big that the soundwaves died off before they could bounce back. A creaking noise, crickets, scratched in the grass, like it was a mile away. The buzz of empty air blanketed everything. The boy took a footstep into the dark. His feet made a deafening roar, a gunshot crack, a tidal wave of sound. Each step felt like it was ruining the complete and utter silence. He took another step into the field. The sky was a mass of white pinpricks. You could see the stars here. Not like in town where the light pollution and neon 24/7 convenience stores bleached the sky black.
He kept walking, a constant creeping of shadows on his shoulders. He was fallowing the trail. Out behind their house, in the disused field where he went crawdad hunting, cratered in the mud he had found a Man Made of Metal. He had looked at it, picked at it, and tried to find what was in it. Maybe a dead man wearing a suit of armor. Maybe there was a gasoline engine that made it move like one of the wagons. He picked at it until his father had called him to do his evening chores which kept him busy until nightfall and bed time. And so he lay in bed for two hours twisting and turning, thinking about weird metal men stuck in the mud.
That is when he snuck out. He took a stick and gently dragged it across the metal surface. A shadow approached the boy standing in front of the metal man. The metal man quivered with little metallic tings as the stick vibrated it and made it ring like a hallow shell.
Suddenly a big hand gripped the boy on the shoulder. It spun him around and-
There was his father standing behind him.
“Hey son. What are you doin’ out here?” He brushed his beard with one hand.
“I found this Pa. I was looking at it, and I couldn’t sleep.” The little boy was torn between embarrassment at being caught and excitement at having someone to tell. Someone who could share in this weird strange thing that kept him up at night turning in his sheets.
“Yeah, I see that. You are going to be cranky in the morning.” Father breathed in quick through his teeth and made a clicking noise with his tongue.
“I couldn’t sleep.” The boy kept wildy gesturing at the thing on the ground.
“Right, I get that. So you ready to go back to bed?” Father began walking way towards the house, motioning over his shoulder with his hand.
“No Dad, I can’t. Do you know what this is?” The boy pointed at the metal man on the ground with the intensity of a drill sergeant.
“Yes. Yes I do.” Father walked back over to the boy.
“You do? Please tell me!” The boy was fidgeting around like he had to pee.
“Well it’s a Robot. It’s a metal man that people built a long time ago. That was before the War. These things were made for War. They were made for other things too. That was back when they had engines that ran on electricity instead of gasoline like we do now” said the Father.
“Things must have been bad. How could people lose all those parts? Why can’t we build robots?” The boy was thinking about their wagon. They had built they’re own wagon. Everyone did. Everyone built and fixed their own stuff. Nobody had someone else build for them. Afterall, what if it broke?
“Well too many people died. These things were very complicated and they required a lot of different people to know how to make. It was easy for that kind of stuff to get lost.” The Father was thinking about those new fangled spark plugs in the store. They sure were nice. But of course, what if it broke? It would help the wagon but then he wouldn’t be able to fix it if it did. He knew how to install a new spark plug. But how to build one? Those things were awefully hard to make. He heard they were all the new thing in the new cities.
“Oh. Will we ever make new ones?” The boy could barely contain his excitement at the idea.
“Maybe. I kind of hope not.” Father was getting tired. He patted the boy on the shoulder and they began turning back towards the house.
“Maybe it can help us with farm work.” The boy dragged a foot on the ground as he fidgeted.
“Maybe it will. Now you finished? Get to bed, I need your help fixing the wagon tomorrow.” Father patted the boy on the head and sent him forward with a scoot.
“I can do it practically myself!” The boy beamed.
“I know. I’m proud. Now go to bed, hear now?” They were nearly to the house where the oil lamps were gleaming in the window.
Prompt: A young boy finds a robot in a field and his father explains to him the ages past.