What kind of game would meditate on humankind’s symbiotic relationship to nature by asking players to rip up entire mountain ranges by the root? Or criticize capitalism by letting us literally consume everything from a thumbtack to a streetlamp–and have a great time doing it? Only a game that takes its silliness very seriously.
But the 2004 release of Katamari Damacy almost didn’t get the ball rolling. Reviewers worldwide weren’t sure how to classify it and initial sales numbers were low. Those who actually played it, though, were won over by its novel gameplay, goofy surrealism, and catchy soundtrack. Pushed into the mainstream by its passionate fans, Katamari remains one of the best video game examples of pure anarchic fun.
It’s up to our future selves, or those who live beyond us, to make sense of what’s being saved today: to curate the data and form the stories around it that will give it meaning.
“The more fundamental question is—is user content a right, a treasure, a heritage, a meaningful part of the human condition? And people come down on different sides,” Scott said. “But ultimately, this is not a new self-awareness. You’re just keeping it on a hard drive instead of the old family bible. Your diary is now on a server, instead of underneath your room, where your parents throw it out.”
The Recompiler—”A/S/L?” (2016)
For me, growing up as a weird kid in a conservative Texas suburb in the late 80s and early 90s, text-based online roleplaying games were also how I learned who I was: as a person and as a woman; as someone capable of desire and intimacy; as someone who could embrace both my strength and vulnerability, a unified whole.
As for me, I am, with some frequency, pinged by Foursquare with user-suggested tips for restaurants nearby; often, the tips that come up were ones posted by a deceased friend of mine.
Each time, it’s a pinch–a small, painful reminder that we’ll never again be able to meet up to eat at those places together.