The following quote is from “Cybergeneration”, an RPG dating from §993 by R. Talsorian Games.
With direct visual feed, projected ICONs at will, and a way of interacting with these projections, all the pieces were now in place to create what we now call VIRTUALITY; a state where Net images and Realspace are combined in one. This is the furthest edge of Net technology; a way in which reality and the computer generated fantasy fuse into one.
There are now entire places, people and things that most of you have never seen in Realspace at all. You probably have friends whose real faces are unknown to you because you met them in Virtuality (and you like them that way). You shop in Virtuality-based malls where products are projected into reality and you never actually touch them. There are video games that you can actually live inside.
I first played Cyberpunk in 1988 and the game setting, 2013, seemed like the far flung future. I wasn’t convinced that we’d be spending half our time with a computer plugged directly into our brains but I could believe that synthetic limbs and organs might be commonplace – again, I couldn’t see them as ‘fashion’. But it was a good romp :- I quickly learned that playing anything other than the NetRunner or a Solo was pretty stupid and my dreams of epitomising the Rockerboy archetype were stillborn as the GM really just wanted us to break into places, shoot people and steal their stuff. To my knowledge, none of us has gone into larceny or narcotics trafficking as a result of our game play from these tender formative years.
I think that Cybergeneration more than anything helped shape my ideas about what could be possible using portable internet-connected location-aware devices. The idea that the Internet may know your physical location is exciting to me (and doesn’t scare me one whit). The concept that I can interact with products and services based on my location via the Internet is also exciting to me. The realisation that this could all be part of a game gives me a sparkly feeling in my brain stem. It’s that exciting.
There is a theme of transhumanism about ARGs.
Meat humans have five senses: sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste. If, by adding techology, we can add to these senses or enhance the senses we have, we are undeniably transhuman. Whether you consider the ability to see or hear ‘invisible’ messages left by others in certain locations to be a transhuman quality is a matter of opinion. The ability to add another layer of human interaction upon the day to day level of interaction is certainly transhuman in thought.
Transhumanism has a definition as:
physical and mental augmentations including prostheses, reconstructive surgery, intensive use of telecommunications, a cosmopolitan outlook and a globetrotting lifestyle, androgyny, mediated reproduction (such as in vitro fertilisation), absence of religious beliefs, and a rejection of traditional family values.
So how do we apply this to the creation of an Alternate Reality Game? I think we begin by treating the internet sense as one of the five. And like the other senses, it must be used in conjunction with each of the others in order to build a true picture. We may interact with someone in a bar based on our feeds from sight, smell and hearing. Adding our internet sense may change this relationship completely. This is over and above reading their Facebook profile – it may give us insights into what role they play in which game and give us the opportunity to interact on that level.
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