This entry was posted on Dec 07 2009 by

The Future Is Now (or it will be soon) Exhibit E

As far as video games go, I’m more of an old-school Galaga type of guy.  For me, video games were something you played at an arcade or a bowling alley, though I did have an Atari 5200 home gaming system when I was a kid.  I also picked up the first Xbox when it was released, but while I enjoyed Splinter Cell, I never got caught up in Xbox Live or the MMORPGs (it took me forever to figure out that acronym was short for Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games), and ended up using the system as a DVD player more than anything else.  When the Xbox went on the fritz, I replaced it with an actual DVD player and haven’t owned a gaming system since.

As I’ve said before during interviews, The Surrogates was inspired in part by a nonfiction book I read in graduate school titled The Cybergypsies, which chronicles the lives of individuals addicted to the Internet through games and chatrooms.  The people in the book would indentify with the personas they created for themselves online to such an extent that they would often lose their jobs or their marriages for the sake of maintaining their digital selves. 

While I’ve never experienced that directly, I can relate on some level.  I’ve lost my sense of time while playing a video game, beginning a session at dinnertime and the next thing I knew the morning sun was shining through the blinds.  And I remember way back in the Atari 5200 days, my stepbrother, Leigh, playing Defender as I went to bed, and still playing the same game as I was getting ready for school the next morning.  (My stepbrother, Mark, was a Joust man, and I held the household record in Dig Dug, though my parentally mandated bedtime prevented me from reaching my true potential via an overnight marathon.)

But for a world like The Surrogates to come to pass, participants would have to be absorbed in the lifestyle for more than the purely entertaining experience you get from Defender, Joust, or Dig Dug.  It would have to be about building relationships, and having those relationships be as real as real gets (“Life . . . only better,” as VSI’s corporate slogan promises).  Is that even possible?

Two weeks ago, this story made its way through the news cycle:



2 Responses to “The Future Is Now (or it will be soon) Exhibit E”

  1. UncleMike
    5:49 pm on December 13th, 2009

    My favorite sentence in the video: “And some people wondered outloud if Japan was coming to an end ……….”

  2. Ian Greenleigh
    8:48 pm on December 17th, 2009


    I was never a gaming addict in the way people view World of Warcraft marathoners or even Guitar Hero tournament entrants. Quite simply, I hadn’t seen the potential, the beauty, of the medium until relatively recently, by way of Half Life 2 & the Surrogates-esque BioShock.

    Let me tell you, Robert, that in much the same way these games opened my eyes to games-as-art, The Surrogates ranks, in my mind, among works like V for Vendetta and The Dark Knight Returns in showing me the legitimacy and form of comics.

    So, um…thanks. All the best.

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