Video games often feel so very current; it’s all happening right now. Every year, everything is different! But… how will this all look when viewed from the distant remove of the far future?
Last week during the Game Developers Conference “Rants” panel, games researcher/designer/critic Ian Bogost gave an interesting mini-talk in which he imagined himself as a man in the future, reading a study about the game developers of the early 21st century. It was a really cool talk, and now he’s had the whole thing published in full at The Atlantic.
Perhaps the most misunderstood of lechery laborers were the creators of games, known as “developers.” They were simple folk subjected to ghastly, repetitive work.
Ungroomed and clothed in rags, developers were assigned to pens hidden within ordinary offices. These firms called themselves “studios” to draw an association with popular art and entertainment of the era. Often they even occupied the same buildings as respectable enterprises like law firms and agribusiness consultancies.
Working long before sustenance powders, developers were easily seduced by appeals to their physical urges. Overseers plied them with sugars and salts during the day and forced them to engorge on extravagant meals at night. Shifts extended for days at a time. Developers were even required to worship in their cells, which were adorned with plush and vinyl totems of figures from terrestrial myths of the era.
Initially, these works were limited to propaganda meant to acclimate young men to governmentally-sponsored global violence. However, after the languorous wars of the first two millennia had failed at forcible depopulation, the task of social progress was handed over to a tribe of patrons called “venture capitalists.”
The rest of the talk, in Bogost’s typical way, disguises a critique of the current state of mainstream and independent game development with a chilly bit of science fiction.
How might our descendants look back at our current age of video game creation? Good question. More pressingly: What is a “diversion pill,” and can I get in on the alpha?