This past week I gathered a group of gays and we huddled into the illustrious Chelsea Cinemas on 23rd st. to see 2012. While it is always a pleasure to see John Cusack reprise his role as everyman Tom Hanks, the real treat was my first glimpse of the upcoming movie Avatar. This trailer was made to appeal to gamers. The first few seconds I could have sworn I was witnessing a live action crossover of Final Fantasy XII and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
James Cameron's latest epic follows the exploits of a young marine (Sam Worthington) who has been paralyzed from the waist down as he enters the Avatar program enabling him to walk once again. This experimental program places Worthington in the seat of "Driver:" one who controls living, breathing bodies using cutting edge technology to link his mind with the avatar. The ensuing trailer shows Worthington as he interacts with the amazing fantasy world of Pandora from the safety of his base, building relationships and fighting battles not unlike what most of us do from the safety of our couches. Another trailer showed the beefy daddy Bruce Willis in Surrogates. As Lt. Harvey Greer he investigates a world where no one leaves their home but instead send their biological robotic clones out to live life for them. This recent stream of bleak, pre-apocalyptic views seem to tie some form of gaming or technology to a collective psyche of undoing. Are these snapshots of inspired schematics for future online gaming? Will the current boon of motion technology and casual gaming be the mother and father of ubiquitous and salaciously addictive lifestyle practices?
More thoughts after the break.
I think all of this destructive fantasy points to a desperate need for a reboot of gaming culture. These impressions of gaming intensities suggest the fading spirit of the so-called hardcore game. It is no longer "cool" to spend 14 hours at a time in front of the computer on solo missions, nourished only by Mallomars and Mountain Dew. Games are becoming more social and smaller in scale. With gameplay mechanics becoming simpler, the appeal for games has broadened, inviting newer non-gamers into our community, who help provide insight and improvement. When my mother, a self proclaimed non-gamer, told me she was beta testing games for Club Pogo I knew we were heading in new direction. More people are playing games than ever before and we are slowly allowing video games to bleed into almost every facet of our day. As we grow increasingly intelligent we are using video games to satisfy a need for greater mental stimulation and allowing a place to manage our more primitive instincts in a digital fashion. Do I think we will ever become consumed as in the above pictures? Anything is possible. Regardless, I think we are heading in a brave new direction, fusing interactivity with the fantastical, allowing us to explore parts of our collective unconscious we would otherwise fail to reach.