August 17, 2018

Gaming

I posted this a while ago with a post dated publish date. It finally hit, and now I have to edit it.

The story is one of virtualization. And visualization.

IN GAME:RUST

"Tell me about your visualization capabilities", I queried the naked male humanoid figure on my screen. "What?", a voice squeaks in my headphones. "Tell me how you visualize", I clarify leaning forward a bit closer to my boom mounted microphone.

"Do you see colors? Reflections?", I ask trying to get the player to talk about what they can see in their mind's eye, if anything. "I don't know how...you are blowing my mind dude!", the voice complains in falsetto.

There is a pause and suddenly another character bursts out of a bush, this time clothed in armor and wielding a gun. "What in the hell is going on here?", demands in a deep voice. "He's trying to fuck with my mind", the first voice falsetos. "Yeah, I don't think so.", the heavy intones. Moments later, my in game character is dead and with that event, I am left unable to speak to either of them.

This is Our Future

This is Rust, the hardest multiplayer video game on the Internet. Most people rage quit Rust after a few weeks. Other players may randomly appear to befriend you, but then later will show up with IRL friends to rob the "bases" you built or steal them outright before the server is "wiped" and the map and everyone is reset to ground zero for another go round.

I've been playing Rust for a few months now and have gotten reasonably good at evading being killed and not getting robbed blind of my base and gear by an angry mob of 16 year olds. Well, sometimes. Sometimes people cheat, like the guy in the video, who uses a levitation hack to jump out of my base.

I'm 52 and unlike most old farts, I've been playing video games since I was 9. Rust is hands down the most "fun" video game I've ever played. I like it because it's hard.

In 1975 or so, my grandmother bought me Pong, the video game. Being an only child, I played Pong with my Dad, or by myself after getting home from school in single player mode, which involved twiddling both controllers at the same time. Over the last 40 years, I've watched video game's visual capabilities evolve from the simple black and white block graphics of Pong to the warmly lit scenes of Rust's setting suns, forests of trees, rivers of flowing water, and bases you could build that look like castles.

Today, video games have progressed to the point that they seem very, very real. Your characters, in game, are no longer made of simple pixels. You must build, hunt, cook, eat, drink and talk your way out of situations to stay alive. Your assets are gathered from the time invested and your skill, just like real life. In-game value has become "real".

The edges are blurring and I'm pretty sure the future arrived last year sometime when nobody was looking and has engulfed us all in its madness. Personally, I'm looking forward to the games we will have in another 25 years. Those games will probably "blow" our minds for good, if we aren't careful.