Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Chapter 7 - Dreams, this is a game planet

"Passing through the plains of Lethe, all memories disappear and we begin tabla rasa, fresh new souls ready for the daimon to guide us”

“We elected the body, the parents, the place, and the circumstances that suited the soul….

“By preserving the myth we may better preserve ourselves and prosper.”

Plato, The Myth of Er, the Republic

March 13, 2035

I looked at the other people in Room 101. They were all dressed in identical orange jumpsuits.(camp x-ray style) The room was completely white, with numerous luscious pot plants, a waterfall, and a group of about 20 people listening to a man dressed in a mini skirt wearing stilettos and tight midriff top that left nothing to the imagination. When I say he was a man it was not obvious, his large hands were the only indicators, he was rather attractive.

“Now it’s important for everyone to realise that once you enter into the virtual world your fate is in your hands. You will not realise that you are in a THE GAME; you will be totally immersed in the experience. “

"This is a game planet."

William S Burroughs

“You will have no memories of your present life, but you will have memories implanted into your unconscious mind that will fit with the situation into which you are placed. You may at times experience overflow. This occurs when memories from your real life intrude into THE GAME world. This happens for most people but usually in a manner that is not significant de ja vu, etc.” , he had a rather high pitch nasally voice.

“You must also realise that being in The Game can be highly addictive and you will be required to sign a waiver to release The Corporation from any responsibility should you become addicted to the game or psychologically damaged”. People who became addicted would spend all their resources to enable them to stay in the game. They let their real lives go, friends, work and relationships were sacrificed in order to stay in the game.

The Game was addictive, and for this reason many people would not play, but preferred to sit back and watch the action. For those that did venture into the Game they experienced mixed results.

I wondered how I would handle it all, but quietly felt confident I would do well. I just wanted the introduction to finish so we could start THE GAME

“Contestants will wear a small headset that connects directly to their brain, thereby, completely bypassing an individual’s sensory system. It hijacks your nervous system by re-routeing it through a computer that generates a completely immersive virtual reality. So instead of your five senses receiving input from the environment around them, the stimuli are generated by the computer’s artificial environment. The computer is able to generate characters for the shows, and contestants may appear alone or with others. Special guest stars also make appearances on THE GAME.

“Contestants can connect for extended periods of time with various life supports systems in place including the Kolto Tank which you will all be suspened in for the duration of your time in THE GAME which depending on how you go could be up to 6 months duration.”

“Although you will not be in any physical danger while on the program contestants may experience psychological distress. Particularly if you are killed, injured or otherwise traumatised in THE GAME”

“Let me remind you again that you will all be required to provide a retinal scan to acknowledge that you have read the waiver form. Global THE GAME Corporation Inc. will not be held liable for any mental disorders that contestants develop as a result of their experiences.”

“Occasionally it can cause a psychotic reaction, where you loose the ability to distinguish what is the THE GAME and what is your “real” life, you become partially aware of the artificial nature of your situation, this suspicion about your situation leads to despair and loss of ability to operate effectively in the game, it is called schizophrenia, we created it for the game. If this happens you may have to be pulled from the game, you may do this in a variety of ways that lead to death, or you may overcome it, which will add significant power to your character. “

“What you are about to listen to is the recording of one contestant experiencing overflow”

“Its all just a fuckin game it doesn’t matter what I do, I mean I fuckin killed myself so many fuckin times, yet here I am still kickin along, maybe I killed myself the first time and now I’m just a fuckin ghost and I haven’t figured it out yet, like the “Others” with Nicole Kidman, or the “Sixth Sense”, you know the one?”

“That sounds a bit dramatic, don’t you think?”

“Its like a fucked up version of Groundhog Day,…….how many times can a man die.”

“I’m live while others die and I die while others live, though I cannot say why it is true that I still long to fly, far above the turbulence and into the stratosphere gliding ever higher……..”

“Its time for your medication Johny, be a good boy and take your tablets.”

“The drugs given to you in the game by psychiatrists will make it very hard for you to complete your mission, some recover but it is difficult. Furthermore, some people still have problems when they come out of the game, after having traumatic experiences in game, they have nightmares and exhibit symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. ‘

“When you are in THE GAME and you die you have two options. One is to start from the beginning the other is to play on and allow your character to re-manifest or re spawn. When this happens the system will intervene to create an event that will allow you to survive where you would otherwise have died.

“Contestants will not be aware of this change in events, although they may act surprised when they survive a particularly dangerous situation. This is done to ensure a smooth narrative flow. This can only be done 8 times however.”

I didn’t like starting from the beginning because it took so long to complete the series, I planned to save my progress on a regular basis and respawn.

“The winner will be the contestant who completes all the required tasks and receives the highest number of votes from the audience. The decision is final and there will be no appeals. “

“The program will be broadcast 24hrs a day and viewers will be able to enter THE GAME as spectators or contestants. There will also be special guest stars inserted into the games; these will include a variety of celebrities, sports stars, politicians and even simulated historical figures. In this game we will have special guests including Dave Groehl from the Foo Fighters, they were popular during the time this game was set, and Osama bin Laden the patsy for US aggression, a twenty first century Lee Harvey Oswald. “

“The thoughts that you have while immersed in THE GAME will have a direct impact on your experience of the world. For instances if you focus on certain things in your experience or consistently wish for certain experiences they will be manifest by you. Most contestants will take a while to become aware of this some never do.”

“For example if while driving in your car you stare at the back of someone’s head in another car, you will find that after a moment or two they will look directly at you. You try this while walking down the street or any other location you like. Or you might just be thinking about a friend and suddenly they call you, or might get this dream that you are going to win the Monster Showcase on the Price is Right, and you do.”

“Why does that happen?”

“Good question, “, just then we were interrupted by a group of Hare Krishnas Chanting outside.

“What were we talking about, ah never mind lets move, I don’t have time to answer all your questions”

“You will enter into a new world, and the THE GAME will start with you waking up. While you are in THE GAME you may experience sleeping difficulties, nausea, and lost time but these will dissipate once you adjust to the setting. “

“During the game you will recall that you read a book called the Dueling Machine by Ben Bova, he was late 20th century science fiction writer who foresaw the development of VR Gaming. This insight may appear as a dream or sudden recollection”.

“This will be a que for you to remember that you are in the game, some of you will understand this others will miss out, this insight brings with it a variety of advantages of course”

I walked over to the lift and waited for it to arrive. The doors of the elevator opened and I stepped inside. As the elevator rose smoothly upward, I cast my mind back over the events of the day. They were so wrong and I knew it, why couldn’t they see the light. My work mates laughed at my conspiracy theories and rejected my insights. I felt marginalised an outsider. I sneered at their ignorance and they in turn recoiled from my arrogance.

I knew that the Classic Michael Moore Film Shooting Baskets for Bagdad was just the tip of the iceberg, and the new scandal with President Schwarzenegger admitting he had given head to a young intern by the name of Billy Lewinsky.

Random fitness testing or RFT was now being used to deal with the obesity plague. Cops wait in shopping centres or on side streets hoping to catch the obese or unfit. People found to have unacceptable body fat levels are detained and taken to special fat-concentration camps, where their weight problem is corrected. The government finally realised that most illness were lifetstyle related and now the emphasis is on prevention, compulsory prevention. President Schwarzenegger was a key proponent of this process and legislated for the mandatory introduction of anabolic steroids into all school lunches.

I needed to escape the modern world, I wanted a real experience something beyond the cloistered environs of my current world. I had signed up to be a contestant on a new THE GAME series. I loved THE GAME and was excited about the prospect of being a contestant. I had been on a few other shows but so far he had not done well. But this one set on earth in the year 2000 was just my style.

The roman emperor, Jedi, messiah, bullshit was so fucking predictable and had been so overdone. Don’t get me wrong they still made great games but you know it lacked a certain authentic human aspect. The big studios had already utilised many classic books and movies as the base for the new stream of programs like THE GAME. The Bible, Gone with the Wind, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars had all been transformed into episodes of THE GAME. It was a massive revolution.

I wanted to be in a show that put the reality back in THE GAME. A show that would delve into the dark world of heroin addiction, and the horrendous state of male gender identity prior to the masculinist revolution. Its hard to imagine how different the world was, according to the strange sexual patterns of the early 21st century, many people living in 2035 would be consider totally obscene and in many cases criminal. We have come a long way since then, golden showers for golden retrievers, group sex for group executives, orgies for the oldies and anal fun for all.

Perhaps in the same way that people are fascinated by human pain and suffering as portrayed in Australia’s Funniest Home Video.

People think that VR is new idea but hey its been around for years. Even the Romans had VR. Romans were passionate about the theatre and they depicted stage sets that decorated their homes

The term "virtual reality" was created by Jaron Lanier in 1989. He was a pioneer in the field and developed some of the first systems. There have been plenty of books and movies that have covered this ground among them

The internet game second life is a good example of an online world, however it is not totally immersive (ie not VR) and participants realise that it is a game. However, if this concept was matched with technology that produces environments that are indistinguishable from 'real life' then we will be onto something.

Nick Bostrom from Oxford University wrote an article that discussed that idea that we are all living in a computer generated reality, read the paper here. While information at Simulism.org provides further detail on this idea.

Viewers can enter THE GAME as a spectator to watch the antics of the contestants from any perspective. All spectators can appear as people in the background scenes to the game. The audience is also fully aware of all the participants’ thoughts and feelings while they are in. THE GAME

Furthermore, audience can try to influence the thoughts and feelings of the contestants. In order to do this the spectator must be in THE GAME. Like ghosts in the real world contestants may become aware of them, and as contestant’s progress may come to believe that it is angels or god talking to them but it is just the audience.

When reality TV first emerged at the end of the twentieth century people were attracted by the simple things but as time progressed and more and more reality TV shows were released audiences became blasé about the whole genre.

"Society has a fascination with homeless people, people living on the streets. Almost a perverse fascination. People don't get a chance to see much of that. We thought it would be exciting to get a glimpse of that kind of life. Fights are part of homeless culture. It's a way for them to vent their anger. We're simply there to video it. "

The makers of the program

Programs like “Bumfight”, where released to stimulate flagging interest. Vagrants were incited to engage in brutal bare knuckle fights, outrageous stunts and other depravities. Then there was the Dutch reality TV program Shoot Up and Swallow, or Spuiten en Slikken that followed the exploits of a group of drug users. While in Australia they made a TV program about athletes taking steroids, tracking them over a period of weeks as they transformed their physiques.

While audiences were becoming bored with Reality TV, technology was advancing at a rapid rate and Virtual Reality came to the rescue. VR enabled producers to render an unlimited variety of environments and historical time frames.

Computer games were well established as an entertainment option, yet their full potential had not been realised. The 3 D Role playing games and online communities that had developed were the precursors of what was to come.

Massive leaps in technology allowed gaming to become the dominant form of entertainment. Just like movies with sound, superseded the silent features and colour made BW TV old hat, the combination of gaming, VR technology and Reality TV would take us to the next step. From passive observation to totally immersive participation, just like the Holo deck on Star Trek

“technology such as TV "gives us simulated realities that make us oblivious to the real world. Heroin does the same." Reality TV is at the forefront of this simulation. It creates the illusion that this is what life is about, and populates our consciousness with people for whom things will actually get better, simply because they are famous.”

“How could anyone want to sit and just watch 2 dimension images on a screen, how boring, gee I am glad I didn’t live in the old days dad”, my daughter after seeing a documentary on the history of THE GAME.

THE GAME freed producers from physical and budgetary restrictions. They could now create the most outlandish environments in THE GAME for a fraction of what a real set would cost. Furthermore, they were freed from the moral constraints about contestant safety and this opened the flood gates of creativity.

People could engage in a whole range of very dangerous activities that could expose them to serious injury or death in THE GAME, a recipe for compelling viewing.

Proponents of this new technology emphasised that it would lead to more authentic actions by participants because they would not be aware they were being watched. Early versions of reality TV lacked an authentic feel because participants knew they were being watched and performed for the cameras.

The premise for “Lets make a Dope Deal” was to get people addicted to heroin in THE GAME to see who can survive becoming a junkie all the way through to kicking the habit. Contestants are required to become addicted to heroin. The winner is the first one to become fully addicted and then to get off it.

However, it is important to remember that the contestants have no recollection of the aim of the program once they are in the game their reality is informed only by the memories that are implanted into their consciousness and the computer generated environments. The show is shot over a 6 month period and traces the addicts every step.

Contestants can exit the show in one way, which is by dying. This death can be caused by an infinite range of different events from OD, crime, etc or they may be voted off, and in such situations the producers will concoct a set of circumstances to create this death.

THE GAME is based on a bestselling book. It’s based on a book that was written in 2004 which was about the life of a young man struggling with his identity in the gender war of the time, who resorts to drugs to treat his confusion. So contestants are entering into a virtual world that is based on a novel written 30 years ago, about a future when people could play virtual reality games. This future has arrived and the producers of the GAME have based this episode on this book.

Men had come a long way since the dark ages of the early 21st century. Although women had reclaimed their humanity, men at this time were still closeted with the narrow confines of traditional masculinity. It was such a sad construct that brought untold misery to the men of the time.

They died younger, 90% of all prisoner where men, they engaged in ludicrous behaviour. But part of being a man was to never complain or show weakness an absurd idea, but still rampant in the male population. Women and children were worthy of assistance but men, well who wants to help them I mean they were the oppressors weren’t they? Or were they oppressed too? No one was quite sure at the time. I mean for God’s sake men were not allowed to where dresses, can you believe it. I mean women had been wearing men’s clothes for about 80 years at this time.

Society at the time was reeling under the impact of rampant ‘masculinism’. Because although most feminists would say they are standing up for the rights of women they also tend to emphasise the value of masculine traits over feminine ones. There is no doubt that feminism was a great advancement for society, but it also failed to address the pressing needs of the men in our society. The end result is that women are more masculine, men are still trying to be masculine and no one wants to look after the kids.

People were talking about cloning and growing children in test tubes to make fathers redundant, what a terrible affront.

The producers of “Let’s make a dope deal” take the characters and settings from the book and re-create them in THE GAME. The plot from the book becomes distorted by the free will of the participants. Although contestants are given memories that will lead to a certain world view they still have free will. Just as the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can cause a tidal wave so too small choices made by contestants lead to totally different outcomes.

In this weeks show we have Dave who is going to become a heroin addict and see if he can survive and kick the addiction or will he die?

As the game progresses contestants may find themselves remembering that they are in a virtual world (Little soul in the sun). At first it may seem as though they are gaining spiritual enlightenment, they may have instances of clairvoyance and telepathy and such like (de ja vu). Other people in their reality may even suggest that is what it is and they may also believe. But it is not, it is merely your conscious becoming aware again.

The experience can be very addictive and some gamers may spend all their time and resources in the virtual world. Often ending up with agencies like Smith and Jones.

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