I’ve known of 253 (a.k.a. Tube Theatre) for quite some time, but I’ve only just read it, after stumbling across the (Philip K Dick Award-winning) “print remix“ in the dealer’s room at Eastercon. Its original incarnation was as a website – which still exists, seemingly untouched and untweaked since it was built in 1996. Wikipedia would have me believe that Robert Arellano’s Sunshine 69 was “the World Wide Web’s first interactive novel”, published in June 1996; I can’t find an accurate date for 253‘s launch, but it seems reasonable to say that even if it came out after Arellano’s work, it was still very much in the vanguard of web-native hypertext fictions. I used to read Wired in ’96 – dead-tree editions, of course, imported from the States – and remember the repeated pre-emptive obituaries for print media, and announcements of the imminence of the hypertext novel as the primary literary form of The Future. The former looks more likely now than it ever did, but still a long way off, while the latter – but for a small fringe scene – has remained resolutely below the radar, for reasons that are more obvious in hindsight. (I’m not going to waffle on about the paucity of viable business models for online fiction at this point; I’ve done enough of that at Futurismic over the years.) Continue reading 253 (Print Remix) by Geoff Ryman
This is immensely intriguing – not just as something I quite fancy having a go at (just “for the lulz”, as the kids say), but from a conceptual point of view – The Passively Multiplayer Online Game.
Basically, PMOG is a browser extension that makes a game out of visiting websites – but as the name suggests, it does so passively. It doesn’t demand tasks of you as a player, but instead presents you with opportunities for play that you may (or may not) decide to take up.
“Passive-ists aren’t asked to roll for initiative and then take part in a full-on turn-based combat. Rather, moments of combat and gifting invite the player briefly into the gameworld. This is not the same as the strategic blow-by-blow that makes Dungeons and Dragons style combat so engrossing. PMOG’s fun is often the fun of discovery and misdirection.
This is the point in the design process at which the internet really became physical for me, and the aesthetic decisions stem from that. Mines, the first tool I’d designed, were initially meant to be crafted by players from flotsam they’d collected on websites like so much primordial goo. Now they’re prefabricated tools you can buy, trade, set, or detonate. The imaginary world of the internet in my mind became a city that had been built over and over again, a sprawling maze of secrets.”
Go read that article. It’ll take you maybe five minutes, but it’ll be worth it. Not all landscapes are physical.
There’s a lot of talk about virtual environments these days, largely due to the proliferation of online roleplaying games. The futurists (myself included) see a harbinger of new worlds being created, ouside the ‘meatspace’ of reality, but just as alive. Continue reading Playing God