- Context, Dear Boy… Context
Here is a common complaint:
‘One of the problems facing video game writing is a systemic failure to place games in their correct historical context’
What this generally means is that writers fail to open their reviews with a lengthy diatribe on the history of this or that genre. While I think that there is definitely a place for that type of opening and am quite partial to it myself, I think that the real problem of context is far more local and far less high-minded. The true problem of context is that how you experience a particular video game is likely to be determined by the games you played immediately before. For example, if you move from playing one version of Civilization to the next then the thing that is most likely stand out is the developers’ latest fine-tuning of the game’s basic formula. Conversely, if you pick up Civilization V after Europa Universalis III, you will most likely be struck by the weakness of the AI and the lack of control you have over your own economy. Aesthetic reactions, like all reactions, are highly contextual. This much was evident in the reaction to Eidos Montreal’s recent reboot of the Deus Ex franchise entitled Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Continue reading The Shameful Joys of Deus Ex: Human Revolutions
We publish writers from all over the globe here at Futurismic, but this month I get to present a story by someone who lives damn near on my doorstep! Stephen Gaskell comes from Brighton here in the UK, but “Under an Arctic Sky” is as far from the faded Regency glamour of his seaside hometown as you could imagine. It’s a powerful story of dedication to a cause against the fiercest of oppression, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
Under an Arctic Sky
by Stephen Gaskell
Ran as fast as he could. His icy breath speared the air. His footfalls made slapping sounds against the packed snow. The temperature must have been minus forty, but he didn’t feel the cold.
He didn’t look back.
Didn’t want to see the oil well derricks. Didn’t want to see the scarred black tundra. Didn’t want to see the line of nodding donkeys and their belches of fire.
Most of all, he didn’t want to see how close the snowmobiles were, buzzing behind him like angry bees.
In his mind’s eye he streaked ahead to the northerly reaches of the Kanin peninsula. Past herds of caribou, past the last encampments of the Nenets, past the odd polar bear loping away on the horizon.
The back of his neck felt stiff, as though somebody had kicked him there with a steel-capped boot. He stretched a gloved hand over his head to rub at the aching spot.
And stopped dead.
There was something embedded in his neck. Continue reading NEW FICTION: UNDER AN ARCTIC SKY by Stephen Gaskell
Dubai may be Ballardian, but my own country of residence is becoming increasingly Orwellian – so much so that to say so is becoming a cliche that even the most conservative of media outlets seem happy to use. Here’s the latest development in the Surveillance State: a CCTV system for watching CCTV operators. Seriously. [image by eduardoizquierdo]
The system uses webcam-style cameras trained on the irises of the CCTV operators. From this, software works out where the operators are looking as they stare at each monitor – and the areas they have not been paying attention to. From this it creates a video of what they missed, for them and their bosses to watch at the end of their shift.
If we can’t trust the CCTV operators to catch everything, what’s the point in having them? If you can make a system that can automatically determine what a fallible meatbag passed over, why bother having the meatbag as middleman at all – just repurpose the same algorithmic prowess and make the panopticon fully automated.
Then the next step is obviously to deploy robot policemen, so that when they run amok and start beating peaceful protestors you can blame a software glitch (or maybe anarchoterrorist hackers OMFG!) and be saved the embarrassment of having the whole business dragged through the courts. And hey, why stop there? Let’s automate the judicial process as well – the less time, expertise and effort spent on controlling the proles the better.
If you’re determined to drive all the way to hell, you might as well step on the gas instead of gawping at the bloody scenery.