Every now and again you’ll just be sitting there minding your own business, keeping to yourself, when all of a sudden someone says something stupid. It happens more often then it should. Most of the time it’s harmless. Sometimes it’s serious. Occasionally it’s downright insane.
I recently had one of those insane ones.
Last night I was out with my mate, chucking down a few pints. It was a good time. We hadn’t caught up in a while and, well actually, maybe it was a few too many pints. It got to the point where everything became clear. The golden moment. There were no more questions about the futility of life, just the realisation of the situation we are all in, trying to make our way on a rock flying through space, getting ever closer to our impending doom.
Then he said it. It was stupid. Crazy. Moronic even. He ruined the moment. A moment that for many, only comes with the help of intoxication. I could see the crazy in his eyes. A glimmer of sudden knowledge. Or maybe they were glazed from the drink. It was his golden moment.
“The world is a video game”
What an ass. I told him he was an idiot. I expected his rebuttal to be that of questioning my beliefs, which he knows full and well already as discussed during many other golden moments. He had it worked out. He had his response. “Watch this.” he said. Without breaking eye contact, in a slow sweeping motion he pushed his half empty (or in the case half full) beer off the table, and let it gloriously smash on the ground.
“That wasn’t me,” he said. “It was whoever… Whatever controls my character.”
I called him an idiot and told him the moment was gone. Now we were just drunk.
This morning I went about my business as per the norm, without giving a second thought to what he has said. I was browsing Reddit and came across a repost from a month or so ago; an article about how Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook thinks the same thing is a possibility. The world as we know it is a simulation. A game. Alright world! You want me to think about this? FINE! I’ll entertain you. It’s really just loon-talk though.
Do androids dream of electric sheep? A program is not aware of itself. A creation is not sentient. AI… Well, AI. Artificial Intelligence does not exist in the way we would imagine it to. There’s no such thing as Skynet. There is no possibility of a GLaDOS. Not with our current technology.
Moments ago I was sitting here and looked over into the kitchen. I hung out some laundry earlier and put the washing basket on the counter. It has holes in it and I was moving my head around in a circular motion intrigued by the pattern and how looking at one hole through the other makes a bas-relief like effect. It wasn’t on purpose. I was pondering what I should write and it just happened. Surely that isn’t something someone playing a video game would make their character do?
Yes, that’s right. No one would do something as mundane as that. It was something automated. I didn’t really notice I was doing it at first. Actually, it was almost as if… As if I was just programmed to do it autonomously. In fact, and here’s a sudden realisation for you, kind of like when you put the controller down for a few moments and Sonic the Hedgehog looks at you and taps his foot impatiently. Or when Mario falls asleep and dreams about pasta. Its not like it was their concious choice to do it. They don’t know any different.
Like my friend said “It was whoever… Whatever controls my character.” If we are all a part of one giant simulation, a game that some strange race plays it would only make sense that they aren’t playing all the time. Sure, I play a lot of games but it’s not the only thing I do. What if we are only being controlled some of the time? The rest of it we’re just on autopilot. We are designed to act on our own, just like a random pedestrian in Grand Theft Auto, going about town, talking on the street, making phone calls.
There are a lot of people in the world. North of seven billion. Not all of us have to be used. You or I could just be an NPC, never to take part in the real experience. If that’s the case, it could be possible that at any time we could be taken over, essentially possessed by a player. That would actually make a lot of sense.
How many times have you done something stupid and thought to yourself, “why the freak did I do that!?!” What if those times you aren’t in control. It could be an objective for your player.
OBJECTIVE: RUIN DINNER
Simple things like that could even be a training mission, preparing a player for bigger things. The purpose of our world could be as a crime simulator. It wouldn’t be as basic as YOU ARE NOW GREG. GREG IS A BANK ROBBER. ROB THE BANK. That’s too simple for a simulation as grand as us.
There would be a complexity to it. A long game. Throughout the characters life, your life, the player has to do things that influence you towards the bank robbery, or whatever crime it happens to be. Of course a created world as grand as ours would be a multiplayer experience. What’s a better way to help mold someone into a deranged or desperate criminal than multiple influences. As a kid, have someone play the role of terrible father. No love. Beatings. Have another player portray an uncaring mother, causing psychological damage. Another as an already “self-made” criminal to groom them.
On the flip-side, it doesn’t always have to be crime. There would be objectives to try and gain a character notoriety via other means. Work towards becoming a celebrity. Enter politics and try to become a world leader. That’s an objective lots of players would seek to achieve. It would act as a leaderboard of sorts and would come with bragging rights.
Multiplayer is great, but obviously there are community events too. Events like WWII. Huge events where as many players as possible compete and take part. This would be in all roles too. Of course you have the first person shooter fans, getting right in the action. Strategists who like to lead the battles. Even those opposing the event trying to stop it. Maybe it wasn’t even a planned event. Quite possibly one player took the objective of world leader too far…
What would the purpose of a giant character cull like this be? Could it just be for the purpose of the game? Or maybe the servers were running out of room… Not an issue now though. That could be why there haven’t been wars quite as “Great” since. Players enjoy that kind of gameplay though, so there are constantly wars. Always terrorist attacks.
Terrorism seems to be a hard thing to accept, even in a simulation as diverse as this. ISIS would have to be a group of players akin to 4chan, trying to ruin things for everyone else Trolling just for their own humour. Whoever is playing as Donald Trump is probably the biggest troll out there at the moment.
As insane as it is to entertain the idea that everything is a computer program, I keep getting hung up on the whole “possession” thing, where players aren’t always controlling us. For that to be true we would have to of been created as AI. Code with sentience. We learn from what our players make us do. We pick up habits and morals and values. That’s why we don’t realise it when we aren’t in control. What our player does becomes us. If we are groomed to become a criminal, a thief, it encompasses who we are. Have a player guiding you towards politics or fame and that becomes our own personal main objective. Get a player who wants to make some kind of difference to this digital world, well, then they instill humanitarian desires that remain whether it’s them in control or not.
It’s nice to think that we aren’t responsible for out own lives, that there’s something bigger than us, leading us to become what we are. Be it a programmer, starting us off as a blank slate, with only survival instincts to guide us, until a player decides to take control and make of us what they want. Or a creator, a god who basically did the same thing, instilling free will and predestined fate at the same time.
As crazy as this sounds, just maybe we are responsible for ourselves. Responsible for our life, our community and our world. There’s nothing that controls us except for us. Sure we are influenced be others and events in the world but it’s still just us. As messed up as things can get, as terrible as the world can be… That’s us.