To be quite blunt, I believe that digital innovation will be driven by three things: porn, gaming and medicine. Internet porn is already a huge industry, and so are MMO’s – massively multiplayer online games. Medicine will be the last of the triumvirate to arrive, but it will come because escaping from the real world has been a part of our DNA since early humans painted their hopes and dreams on the walls of caves.
I introduced gaming with Jaimie Watson, and the idea of gaming+porn with Leon in book 1 [Miira], but the focus remained on the purely digital world of Innerscape. In The Godsend, the gaming world of the Shogunate becomes the focus because that is where pure digital and real world escapism intersect for Miira and Jaimie.
The following is a scene that most gamers will recognize. In deference to non-gamers, I’ve kept it very short. lol
Feral Cat Whiskers And Other Junk
“I still don’t see why we have to kill all this low level junk,” Miira grumbled as she despatched her ninth wild dog. “I mean, did they even have wild dogs back then?”
“Yes, they did. Now stop complaining and hurry up,” Jaimie said. “I’m up to fifteen already.”
Miira glared at her partner but kept her mouth shut as she turned and shot an arrow at the next wild dog. Ten.
She and Jaimie had been killing low level vermin for hours, and she was bored to tears. Jaimie, however, was adamant, insisting that building their reputations with the villagers was more important than anything else.
When Miira asked why, Jaimie had simply said that a high reputation would stand them in good stead later, when they went up against bands of enemy players. Just exactly how this was supposed to work, though, he did not say.
Given Jaimie’s knowledge of the game, Miira could not argue with his strategy, but that did not stop her from wishing she was elsewhere, doing something a bit more interesting.
Watching grass grow would be more interesting, she thought as she dispatched yet another wild dog.
“Twenty!” Jaimie announced with satisfaction. “You almost done?”
“Four more to go,” Miira said with a sigh. So far, the day’s total of useless quest items included 46 wild dog pelts, 90 rodent tails and 20 feral cat whiskers…
I’ve included this short scene amongst my Favourite Bits because ‘the grind’ – the time consuming, mindless repetition of pointless actions – has been a part of every single game* I have ever played, and I suspect it will be part of every game I play in the future. The grind also features in every LitRPG story I have ever read, so this scene is a nod to both.
For those who have never stumbled across the category of LitRPG on Amazon, it’s a subgenre of fiction based on the idea of a gamer, or a whole group of gamers, suddenly finding themselves ‘living’ in the game world. This always involves full sensory immersion – i.e. the game suddenly feels completely real – and the plot revolves around a) surviving in a game that can now kill you, and b) discovering how and why the game has become real.
Some LitRPG is really awful because the grind is described in excruciating detail, as is the process of ranking up. At the other end of the scale, however, I’ve read LitRPG that made me want to live in that world. [see Forever Fantasy Online by Rachel Aaron or Ready Player One by Ernest Cline].
Innerscape is not LitRPG, but as a gamer, know what it feels like to become so immersed in a game that it starts to feel real…even in 2D. That feeling led me to ask ‘what would it take to make a digital world feel real?’ The answer became Innerscape.
And now, because this is supposed to be a marketing post, here’s the punchline:
The Godsend, book 2 of Innerscape, will be free on Amazon when the clock ticks around to February 2, 2021 in the US. For those of us in Australia, that’s at about 5pm today [Melbourne time]. The Godsend will remain free for five days, and then it will revert to the special promotion price of $1 until the last book comes off free on April 3, 2021. At that time all six books will revert to their pre-promotion pricing.
My aim with this long promotion is to force myself to do some marketing, give you some freebies, and help Miira and Vokhtah reach the magic 20 review mark [both are on 19 at the moment]. If you know anyone who enjoys scifi and wants some free books, please point them towards mine! Reviews are not necessary, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want some! Of course I do, but only if my stories have managed to help people escape the mundane for a little while.
Okay, that’s it. -breathes a sigh of relief-
Thanks for sticking with me,
…*… If anyone is interested in the gaming side of things, you can find my gaming posts on the sidebar, under the category ‘Games for big kids’.
Anger, hatred and violence have always been a part of human DNA. That’s why every society has a system of justice and mechanisms for punishing those who transgress against the laws of society.
Those laws are the ‘big sticks’ that make it possible for so many aggressive humans to live in close proximity to each other, but there are cultural laws as well. Concepts of equality, honour and fair play are the ‘soft’ laws that make us want to obey the big stick laws because failure to do so means that we risk being ostracized by our peers.
Or it did when I was a kid.
I remember playing some kind of make believe conflict with the neighbour’s kids. There were four of us in total. Joseph was about my age – eight – while his sister and brother were a couple of years younger.
Joseph was a bit bossy and he made me want to beat him, just because. So I came up with a brilliant plan whereby I would trick Joseph into thinking that I was on his side against the two younger kids. In reality, I’d set myself up as the ‘leader’ of the younger kids. I guess they were a bit sick of their older brother too.
We carried out my plan and the plan worked. We won, but I will never forget the look of contempt and betrayal I saw in Joseph’s eyes.
Triumph evaporated, and I stuttered something stupid like “but it’s just a game!” Only it wasn’t just a game, and Joseph knew it; lying and cheating are lying and cheating no matter what the reason.
I learned a life changing lesson that day, and it boiled down to one thing – the end never justifies the means.
That concept was taught at the Catholic primary school we all attended, but it was not until that awful day that I realised why the end doesn’t justify the means. It’s because of what it says about us, and what it does to us.
If you believe that certain, reprehensible actions or even illegal actions are ok because of X, you will eventually come to believe that winning justifies anything and everything. Winning means power, and power trumps honour any day because honourable people rarely win.
It’s a circular argument that has gained more and more adherents as neo-liberalism has taken hold all over the world. Money means power, and power is now the greatest ‘good’, so anything is justified so long as it makes money. Here in Australia, the Banking Royal Commission revealed just how much our financial institutions have taken that concept to heart:
‘Declaring that “choices must now be made”, Justice Hayne also referred some of the nation’s biggest company names to regulators for possible criminal or civil action for the way they treated their customers.’
And while expediency gradually became the greatest good, honour devolved into a pathetic concept fit only for ‘Care Bears’.
Remember them? The cute little cartoon bears who solved problems by doing good things?
I watched a lot of Care Bears videos when the Offspring was little, but these days, the name has become a perjorative, especially in the gaming community. Care Bears are seen as weak players who can be bullied without consequence.
Is that an ethical shift brought about by the games being played? Or do those games reflect a society that no longer values compassion and honour?
I’ve never seen myself as a Care Bear because I will always fight back if attacked, but I won’t cheat. Ever. If I can’t win by honourable means, I’d rather lose.
And this brings me to the anger that prompted this post. Yesterday, I discovered that ESO [Elder Scrolls Online], a game I have loved for a couple of years now, actively encourages something that I can only describe as ‘suicide bombing’.
No, not the real world kind of bombing, the PVP equivalent. PVP stands for ‘Player vs Player’, and as the name suggests, players get to fight each other instead of fighting computer generated monsters.
Back when I started playing MMOs, roughly 20 years ago, PVP was supposed to be the only real test of a player’s skill. In some games, it probably was. In others, especially those that allowed ‘open world pvp’, it became a way for players to gang up and terrorize lone players. This kind of behaviour even has a name: ganking.
Yesterday, I learned from a fellow Guildie [member of a guild of players] that in ESO PVP there are a couple of built-in skills – i.e. deliberately created by the developers, not just ‘exploits’ created by the players – that allow players go invisible, sneak into a group of opposing players and…detonate their armour, ‘killing’ a lot of players at once. This is, apparently, a winning strategy.
I was shaken at what this said about ESO and the players who used this strategy to win. Being kind of naive, I assumed that all of my Guildies would feel just as shocked. Some were, and piped up in agreement. Others said things like ‘you don’t have to use it’ [meaning the suicide bomber tactic]. Others must have felt a little shame because they came back with the old ‘its just a game’ response, or, ‘just because I kill people in game doesn’t mean I kill them in RL’ [Real Life].
That last comment made me see red and I said something about how normalizing such attitudes can have real life consequences. The example I gave was the pathetic excuse for a human being who planned and carried out the New Zealand massacres not long ago.
Someone piped up with “surely you don’t believe video games turn people into killers?”
The one that really threw me though, was a dismissive, “oh is that all? We have incidents like that every day”.
I’ve never believed that video games turn kids into homicidal monsters, but the normalization of violence in real life, and the need to win at any cost, which is reinforced by many of these games, is a form of conditioning. It validates the individual’s wants, right or wrong.
That lack of empathy or care for others was demonstrated in a newspaper article back in April or May in which the writer basically said that his grandfather was in his eighties and wouldn’t mind popping off to save the economy…
Politicians here, and in other Western countries, have not been quite as blatant, but the emphasis on the economy at the cost of lives has been clear. And no one from the mainstream media has connected up the dots and said “hang on, so you don’t care if the elderly die?”
What continues to shock me is not that politicians can be so callous, but that we, the public, don’t rise up in protest. We accept it as a valid argument.
When did we lose sight of fair play, and justice, and compassion for the weak?
When did we forget what being honourable actually means?
Before anyone gets too excited -rolls eyes- none of my characters have hit level 60 in battling yet, but I am proud to announce that Takh broke the crafting barrier twice today – once on blacksmith and the second time on goldsmith:
And now to reveal a little secret – Takh reached 60 on two of his crafts without ever having set foot in Heavensward! And it wasn’t all that hard. Basically he did the Grand Company [GC] missions every day, handing in HQ [high quality] and starred items where possible.
Of course he did have some help from Meeka. She did all the gathering and provided him with melded crafting gear via her carpenter, weaver, leatherworker and alchemist, but if you have the gil [money] to buy all those things, it is possible to get a craft to 60 just on GC missions alone. As I never have a lot of gil, I had to do things the hard way, but that’s okay; I really just wanted to show that it can be done. Plus, if I’m honest, I also wanted to thumb my nose at Heavensward and all its gated content.
In the next week and a bit I intend to get 4 of Meeka’s crafts to 60 as well, then I’m going to pack up the Mist house, move what I can into a private room in the Lavender Beds house and jump into Blade & Soul [release date 19th January, 2016].
B&S is a buy-to-play mmo with no monthly subscription so I’ll actually save money for a while. And when I get sick of the PVP element, I’ll go back to Heavensward and hopefully my friendly house-sitter will have kept the Lavender Beds house going for me. If not, my characters will be homeless and I’ll be so angry at FFXIV that I may never buy a Square-Enix game again. Ever.
Anyway, the weekend’s over and I need to go to bed. Goodnight all!