Death is a headache.
Death hurts and it is costly.
When you die always remember to remain still, take a deep breath, close your eyes and then reopen them. The headache goes – death passes – time to reboot.
In 2037 virtual death is a headache but the rush of the game is worth it.
The games my parents used to play seem so crude. Two dimensional, flat screen pixels, that look infantile when they are shown at Comic Con or social history classes today. Where is the fun in that, I ask you?
Well, I can only say that 3DVR is as different from looking at rain through a window to going outside and dancing in it. It is real, ‘Three Dimensional Virtual Reality’ is as real as anything can be.
Virtual reality gaming has come a long way since the first clunky headsets were marketed twenty years ago. Who would have imagined then being able to walk down a street and play three dimensional virtual games through an ordinary pair of glasses? Just imagine, one moment you are reading a sign and the next a three dimensional virtual character appears beside you as you are standing there and they look as real as any person. The gaming industry calls them ‘automata’.
How they sorted the licenses out for that I will never know. Times and places are regulated of course, but as soon as governments realised how much money could be made out of virtual reality gaming in public areas their attitude changed from prohibition to regulation.
There are many 3DVR games out there, everything from sport to space, but the most popular is ‘Grand Theft Automata’. Whatever anyone says, crime pays, it certainly pays in the world of virtual reality gaming.
Near where I live there is an old shopping precinct, long since empty, that is now given over to 3DVR gaming. The company who own it rent out costumes and props so you can completely immerse yourself in the game. Last week I played there in co-op mode with some team mates, we pulled up in the precinct and shot the hell out of the place.
It was fantastic!
No wonder the film industry is waning. Who wants to watch movies when you can direct and act in your own?
But recently one of our team members stopped playing.
I asked Garth why and he said something very strange – he said with every update in the game software he was finding it harder to look into the faces of the automata he killed. This was more than the endless debates that have raged on for decades over whether video games make people more violent. Garth was finding it harder to look at the faces of his victims just before killing them. Particularly their eyes, he said.
I lost touch with Garth.
For a while I did not think anything more about what he said. Life – real and virtual – carried on. Going to work and levelling up on my game at home became part of my routine, that was until yesterday. It happened while our team was in co-op mode and we attacked the precinct again as we had done before, but this time it was different.
While emptying a safe I heard a scream. I turned and saw it was a woman crouching in the corner. She was clutching a gun but hesitated to shoot at us. My accomplices shouted, “Shoot her and let’s go!”
And so I did. Why not? It’s only a game character, right?
But in that split second before I pulled the trigger she looked directly at me. Her eyes mesmerized me. They seemed so real I thought I was looking at something more than a hologram – her eyes seemed as though they were alive and wanted to stay that way. Was this thanks simply to a software update? I am not religious but in that moment I swear I was looking at what I can only describe as something with a ‘soul’.
After pulling the trigger I wondered, was something being murdered – in her or in me?
I don’t play games anymore, not virtual ones anyway because I have seen too much. Instead I meet up with Garth and we take to the streets without the aid of 3DVR.
The world is no longer enhanced by a pair of 3D graphical interface glasses but strangely enough my vision seems less impaired. Garth and I may stand out and some may laugh.
But that’s okay.
I don’t miss the headaches…
‘Fizhtales’ are my own stories inspired by the cyberculture which continues to shape the world we live in. I like to think of Fizhtales as ‘cyberparables’ written as a reflection on some of the moral and spiritual questions that cyberculture presents to each of us today.
‘3DVR: A Fizhtale’ Copyright © 2017 cyberfizh