WELCOME TO THE FUTURE
A (WTTF) Sunday Series
–Short Story Time–
Timeline: Andy, sometime during elementary school.
“She shoots, she scores!!” cries Jessica.
“Is that it?” asks Andy, skeptical of this pro. gamer phenomena.
He just finds it impossible to believe that his friend is into the idea of making a career in… gaming! Especially this type of first person shooter game that involves not only repeatedly knocking off members of the other teams, but also intense mental obstacles for level-ups and upgrades. It’s a matter of moving furiously from check-point to point, and once there, guarding a teammate as they crack code or solve algorithms across the game’s multiverse.
“It’s do or die out there man,” says Jess, her arms now up in the air and controllers on the floor as she takes a fatal hit.
“I’m still not sure if I really get it,” says Andy.
“Why don’t you give it a go?” says Jess, “I’ve got another headset over there,” she says, and points left, “time to get your game face on.”
Andy grumbles something that means okay, and with his hands, makes a mini-pistol, aims and fires at Jessica a few times.
“Saw that!” says Jess, “better watch your back out there!”
Andy’s face flushes, he’s only used these game specific headsets a few times, and forgot that they have really high end specs for mixed-reality viewing with the pass through cameras. The HMDs he uses are primarily for 3-D modeling and design. He likes to disappear into his virtual studio, especially during class time if he can manage to hack through the server configurations.
It’s tough to hide his minute hand gestures that draw across the digital canvas with micro-motion trackers that he implanted ages ago despite the absolute “NO!” from his parents, but he’s yet to be caught. If anything, his teachers just think he’s a very antsy child, but he’s not the only one in the class who does this. It’s an unspoken agreement that no one dare tell, or else… digital warfare.
“You in yet?” says Jess. Obviously she can see that he isn’t ready yet, so it’s really a subtle cue for him to hurry up.
“So how does this work?” he asks.
“Oh come on,” she says, “just give it a shot and you’ll see it’s exactly as you’ve always done anything, just a million times better.”
Okay, he says to himself, and he reaches out with the highly accurate leap motion tracking to press on the option to join game. The familiar tactile mid-air touch combined with his avatar-self that he now embodies draws him back to his comfort zone.
Now in the game, he begins to look around.
“Run!” screams Jess, and he’s blasted into reality.
“Man down,” he yells back, and waits to reboot. Okay, he’s got this now, and he leans right, left, forward, back, and turns around to run the opposite way. By the end of the game, he’s wired from adrenaline and the thrill of coding under pressure. They’d done it, and he’d helped Jess’s team to up to a new level.
“Welcome to the team,” says Jess, and it’s official, he’s in.
“GG,” says Jess as they take off their HMDs and high five.
“GG?” says Andy.
“It means good game,” she replies, and they say goodbye as her family says it’s time for homework.
On his way back, Andy thinks about his gaming experience. It makes sense now. He’s always enjoyed being on his computer or in VR at home, but he’s never really explored MMOs before.
Although he’d stubbornly have loved to prove Jessica right that his virtual art studio was better, there was something really neat about being a part of the team today, not to mention that he’d put his coding skills to test, successfully. He made a mental note to check challenges in the game and see where his coding skills would have to be improved.
Almost back now, Andy walks briskly through the streets, deep in thought about life, gamification, and technology. He wonders, could he bring the concept of MMOs to art? Could he challenge other artists will skill tests and invite them to “artathons”?* He’s got a relatively open ended term project for art class that he might just fully embrace, and open source too.
Now grade that! thinks Andy.
A (W.T2.F.) Series
*HMDs- Head Mounted Devices (headsets)
*MMOs- Massive multi-player online games
*artathons- like hackathon