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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Postmodernism

Yesterday, I took part in the greatest continuing internet prank ever. You can read about the backstory at www . transmogrified . com /future. (for obvious reasons, I'm not posting it as a link that can be tracked back.) Short version - a friend of mine and several of his friends picked a guy they were tenuously linked to (nicknamed Gnome), gathered as much information about him as they could, gave it to him claiming to be from the future, and then have led him on a series of real-life adventure game antics to develop the story about how the Gnome would save the world in the future from a Terminator-like scenario.

Yesterday, they took the next step in the project, which involved inviting the Gnome and his internet buddies to The Realm Online, the oldest semi-massive multiplayer RPG on the Internet. I was invited to observe, which was easy to do by blending in with the internet buddies. I knew the backstory, but not the specifics of the story for the day, which made it more fun.

The group of us solved a series of puzzles to gather items hidden around the game world, leading to an ultimate confrontation in which it was revealed that the guy who had been Gnome's mentor was actually a traitor. Here's the interesting thing - at one point, the purveyors of the prank had put together a little cut-scene where it was obvious that the mentor character was evil to the player, but to the character, in video game terms, it was simply weird. Thus, the character - Gnome - continued to act as though the foreshadowing that the players had seen was irrelevant.

In other words, they have the guy that they've been pranking programmed to act as a video game character.

It reminded me of the movie eXistenZ, which I like to call the intelligent version of the Matrix. The film basically puts humans in the roles of video game characters, though they only partially understand this. At certain times, the characters freeze or do things they don't want to, because the logic of the game forces them to act that way in order to progress. It's quite amazing if you don't watch the movie linearly.

Anyway, imagine what it must be like for the Gnome. He has an ever-increasing group of people (there were at least 6 acting directly in the game and in real life yesterday) who live to make his life interesting. Every several months or so, they appear and give him a new chapter in his life as Future Savior. I'm actually kind of jealous of him.
- Rowan Kaiser, 3:08 PM
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