Forewarned by Jorge Luis Borges (VII)
We can see this claustrophobia very clearly in current events. We can sense the impending sense of dread, the slow movement of all the heads taking their eyes away from the screen. The masses are waking up and they are afraid. They are afraid to find that every video game is going to be like every last video game, despite the fact that each video game ought to exist in its own world and defined by the horizon of its own internal law-structure. At some point, every video game is going to be a mishmash of every past innovation and novelty in an effort to at least offer the features which the masses have come to expect. But each video game will have to at least offer the past innovations in addition to a new one. It doesn’t even matter what it is. Allow the players to give their characters teeth for hair and toes for noses—it doesn’t matter. It could be anything, just as long as it is novel. But when a video game is delayed, when the masses are not allowed to move through time as they are accustomed, they send death threats. They threaten to end the lives of those who profess to be the gatekeepers of their future. This was most recently seen in the case of No Man’s Sky. The game was promised as the mediator between the masses and the future. It had all the new information!
And it turned out that it only had a little bit of new information. Perhaps that cold husk offered the last dregs of novelty available to video game publishers.
Drink it up.
I very much look dread that E3 conference when everyone simultaneously in the auditorium realizes that the new, exciting adventure of Assassin’s Creed 11 is not actually Assassin’s Creed 11, but is in fact made up of the gear of Halo Destiny, the self-generating universe of No Man’s Sky, the “boundless paths” of Fable II, the lifestyle features of Sims 5, the workshops of Fallout 4, the multiplayer of Call of Duty, and the important ideas of Bioshock Infinite. And everyone will look around and the presenter on stage will be speaking in a very excited voice, “This is never-before-seen” and the entire crowd will jump onstage and tear him to shreds, because that presenter represented to them the end of their momentum into the future. And it was paved with the carcasses of all the emptied video game experiences.
You must know, at this point, that to reject the central dogma of video games is to also reject the notion that video games can bring us into the future. Video games can no more mediate our way into the future as they can predict who will be alive in the next ten years.
Video games can offer nothing new.