Updated: Nov 24, 2020
By Andrew Copolov & Lister Wood
Due to NeoLiberalism and The Online becoming more accessible and needed; more people are beginning their journey of their digital career and exploitation of virtual labour.
This is done through the exploitation of wealth, the reliance of bad faith, our need for escapism entwined with using virtual spaces to seek favour from others, and to subconsciously fit into this restricting path created by the need for The Online in Modernity.
Immersion & Autonomy
I build the world. I build it using code. The lines of text aggregate and suddenly I have a sandy plane. I add two more lines, and now my sandy plane bulges. I add a second plane, and the sandy island becomes beset by waves. Two more lines make the island pucker and slope, turning it into a tranquil paradise - an island world that exists outside of politics. You can’t get eaten by sharks here, or attacked by savages, or harassed by tourists. Mine is a world of solace, and there aren’t even any mosquitoes.
The vision for my island was singular - I made it myself. There are no anomalies or contingencies here. Occasionally chance does enter, but only when it is invited in. Each time a dice roll generates a number greater than 0.6, a coconut tree will generate a coconut. The player can add the coconuts to their inventory, but the action of eating is purposefully omitted from the game. Best to avoid any explicit reference to bodily functioning - the player comes here to escape all of that. Somatic faculties are left unconsidered, in this world it is only emotions that are attended to. In this world the player can experience joy, relaxation, intrigue; and all without the need for upkeep, without maintenance or consequence.
To elicit an emotional response requires making the players feel as though they are directing the show. Short grass, long grass, light forest, dense forest… clearing. The experience of each game asset, each component of the world, is meticulously orchestrated. There are no interiors here. Everything is outside, and in that sense - there is no outside. At the edge of the island there is nothing. The sun doesn’t set here. There’s no night time during which to sleep. This world cannot be minimised - it can only be experienced full-screen.
I find myself in a world. I meet the peaks of a craggy desert. The first thing I do is to survey the dusty trails splayed out before me. My head bobs up and down as I trace each trail. My mouse marks each turn. Despite the expansive landscape, I know this world to be finite. My first ambition transcends the mechanics of the game; I want to know how much world is there for me to explore. I want to find the edge. And then, as I ascend one particularly steep peak, I hit it. An infinite invisible plane. Visually, nothing changes. I simply can’t go any further. The landscape that unfolds before me has no depth. An endless wall that cannot be seen, sounds like an unyielding imposition, but it’s also an edge - and edges are prone to fraying. I make a few strategic jumps to test the boundary. And it seems I’ve found a gap. With the right choreography of jumps, I might just be able to fall through. I try it but overshoot. I try again - I get to the top peak, jump toward a lower one, and instead of hitting the ground, I fall right through. As I plummet, the mountain above - a one-sided surface - becomes invisible. Above me a blue sky, and below me a flat sandy plane. I hit the ground without a sound. Normally, falling from a height instances an audible response, but here the response isn’t triggered. The game mechanics work differently down here. This region lies beyond the edge of the game, and perhaps I’m the first player to discover it.
(Visual reference: WoW glitch terrain)
Ours is a world-in-common. We make our world together. It acts as a hypothesis; a working model, not something determined or closed. We conceive of our world not as an island but as an archipelago. Separate from any mainland, it remains autonomous, but not in any absolute sense. Ours is an autonomy of self-sustenance and communing. Our game is an open one. We are co-isolated, not alone. We harvest together, we craft and trade items together: when my hatchet is blunt, I borrow your sharpening stone, when your pickaxe breaks, I offer you mine. We determine our own relations and reciprocities. We encourage each other to take breaks. Sometimes we leave our world running in the background, and we go outside. We are conscious of the physical repercussions of our archipelago. As we well know, it takes real electricity to turn on a virtual light.