There is the real game of life for most people, and there is the virtual life of massively multiplayer online gaming that is the only real thing for many. A recent report suggests that gaming will soon be the real thing in life, and everyone would be a gamer. Brent Baldwin, once a gamer himself, fervently hopes this future will not come to pass.
In Baldwin's story, “a collection of so many things from my own life”, the gamers in the future are a lost generation, educated but unemployed, living “in a world too expensive and too hot for in-person gatherings.”
Yarro, the central character, lives in a bare minimum pod with no kitchen. For Yarro, “the lack of a kitchen meant more room for a fully immersive gaming rig, which was the height of human existence.”
He hates to go the place where his dad lives (“Miss you, son”) because he does not want to “endure the sun and the heat outside his pod”. Also, because Yarro doesn’t want to run into anyone “who would pester him about ‘not calling’ or ‘how have you been’ or ‘I’m so sorry about your mom’.”
Yet he ends up going there because Sisho, a member of his “posse” had uncharacteristically not logged in for two days. Imagine! A gamer not online! He got to know from a fellow gamer that Sisho was in a hospital near his father’s place.
Sisho had almost died from “nutritive failure.” In non-gaming, real-life words, Sisho was so engrossed in the game that he did not pause to eat and had almost starved to death.
After leaving the hospital, Yarro goes on to visit his father.
Standing in his childhood home, Yarro remembers his parents’ laughter. “How it used to seem so fake, until it was absent. For most of his life, all Yarro had really wanted was to get into a gaming rig and explore other worlds, but for a moment he imagined himself as his Dad, alone day after day. Sisho had the posse waiting for him. With Mom gone, Dad had no one.”
Do read Yarro's story and ponder about the future that awaits all of us.
A few minutes ago, I came across a scientist’s prediction that technology will make humans immortal by 2030. By 2045, “we will multiply our effective intelligence a billion-fold by merging with the intelligence we have created.”
Can we harness some of that artificial intelligence to undo the damage we continue to wreak on the outside? And to restore the fragile love and fraying care within us?