This being the multi-media future and all, I would like to begin this column by asking you to consider a video taken from Charlie Brooker’s BBC 4 TV series Screenwipe :
Now, I consider this to be one of the most enjoyable rants I have ever seen on television. Aside from a few minor quibbles (“kick to the nuts spiritually speaking”? Redundant “low self-esteem engine”? Pointless pun, far too on-the-nose) I think it is exquisitely written and paced. It takes us from a sedate and happy place and slowly builds into a frenzy of anger and frustration before collapsing into an abyss of sorrow, alienation and resignation – a rise and fall exquisitely supported by Clint Mansell’s score from Darren Aaronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream (2000). It is everything that a rant should be. But is it right? Does the media really ask us to identify with an endless procession of impossibly glamorous and accomplished caricatures? In some cases, yes. Continue reading Fantasies of mere competence: Football Manager 2010
If modern gaming is all about escapism, why do we choose to escape to virtual worlds that contain so many of the negative pressures of the world we’re trying to leave behind?
I’d like to begin this column by discussing escapism. Describing something as “escapist” has always struck me as something of a back-handed compliment. A tacit (and sometimes dismissive) acknowledgement of a work’s lack of topicality or verisimilitude coupled to an attempt to shift the critical yardstick from the aesthetic to the psychological : Yes, we know that this film/game/book is all about giant stompy robots hitting each other but it scratches an itch that we, the audience, need scratching.
The itch in question is the need to escape from an increasingly inhospitable 21st Century existence; an existence filled with long commutes, unpaid mandatory overtime, credit card bills, mortgage foreclosures, unemployment, failed relationships and the plethora of modern-day worries, problems and fears that many choose to medicate with alcohol. People justifiably want to escape to a world that is less oppressive and miserable. This explains why the grand-father of escapist fiction is J.R.R. Tolkien and not Jean-Paul Sartre. Continue reading The Iron Cage of Fantasy: World of Warcraft, City of Heroes and Fable II
Via boingBoing and MindHacks comes a case history and discussion of mind wandering and high fantasy proneness.
The subject of this case report is a professionally accomplished 36-year-old female presenting with a long history of excessive and highly structured daydreaming which she states has contributed to considerable distress during periods of her life. The patient is single, does not smoke, drink or use illegal drugs, and comes from a supportive and healthy family, reporting no abuse or trauma in her history.
…We have tenuously [could they mean tentatively?] viewed her symptoms as indicating possible features of obsessive-compulsive behavior, reflected in the prescription of 50 mg/day of fluvoxamine [Luvox], an antidepressant believed to influence obsessiveness and/or compulsivity. The medication has been continued for 10 years, as the patient affirms this treatment has made her daydreaming much easier to control. She reports that occasionally the amount of time spent daydreaming will rise and she will increase her dosage of fluvoxamine briefly until it subsides…
The paper for Consciousness and Cognition doesn’t get into what the woman actually daydreams about. But with so many of us logging so much time in virtual and imaginary worlds, shouldn’t we be seeing a lot more of this?
Recently, the patient discovered a website containing a surprising number of anonymous postings on the topic of excessive or uncontrolled daydreaming.
(I’m not having much luck finding that site.)
Mark Frauenfelder on bB recalls the case of a physicist who thought he was John Carter of Mars. I’ve had that dream myself.
[Daydreaming gentleman from 1912 German postcard: Wikipedia public domain]
Jay Campbell‘s “Push Patterns” is a science fictional fantasy of math and plenty.
[ IMPORTANT NOTICE: This story is NOT covered by the Creative Commons License that covers the majority of content on Futurismic; copyright remains with the author, and any redistribution is a breach thereof. Thanks. ]
by Jay Campbell
Late afternoon, the calls started pouring into my home line instead. My cell had run out of juice hours ago, just as my gratitude for the attention was turning into annoyance at the constant interruptions. I was scant hours from a working proof of concept. I was tired of repeating the small bits I could tell the reporters, the venture capitalists, the Department of Energy “consultants.” I wasn’t ready, and the world wasn’t ready. I squeezed the prong on the phone jack, ready to unplug the thing for some peace and quiet, and mumbled something excusatory.
“We absolutely respect that,” he said, “and if you don’t want to talk to me, or the Post, or anybody else, that’s your prerogative. You’re entitled to your privacy. Lockheed has promised to let us know what they figure out from Wolfram’s notes and we’ll be there to report it then.”
“Wolfram’s notes. The unpublished book, and a third machine.” Continue reading PUSH PATTERNS by Jay Campbell