K

Ruiner, Land and the Failure of Vidya

 

Intro: The gaming scene has been fairly dry these last few years, and if I’m honest it’s a scene that is beginning to become entirely uninteresting, largely due to lack of innovation, a lack which extends to all of gaming’s pathways from narrative to hardware. This, along with the fact I prefer to spend my time reading, writing or researching generally allows little time for playing games, the majority of them nowadays being clear-cut Ubisoft clones with perfected dopamine reward systems to keep you playing for just that little bit longer, or purchasing just that little bit more. There was a time, I would argue, wherein games definitely could have been considered art, at current it feels as if the medium is drifting further into the realms of day-time TV. With all this aside, let’s move forward:

 

1. Ruiner: The Landian Wet-Dream.

 

Okay, but where’s the video game?

Ruiner, a video game set in 2091 and inspired by cult cyberpunk anime is through and through a compressed Landian nightmare, containing so much Land/XS relevance that a description runs on the borderline between satire and reverence:

The lead/player character is called ‘Puppy’, a Paul Kersey-esque robotic sociopath who, at all times bears an LED helmet, displaying visual death-countdowns and objectives. This anonymous, faceless entities’ entire being is enveloped in the end, in the death of ‘BOSS’ and of the recovery of his kidnapped brother. The backdrop to Puppy’s bullet-hell violence is Rengkok, a stereotypical cyberpunk megacity, which is under control from the mega-corporation Heaven: A malevolent virtuality (VR) company who are hacking people’s brains. The streets are littered with drug addled psychos, transhumanists and hackable felines, with the addition of business at every turn.

For those familiar to the cyberpunk genre all of this is nothing new, all is relatively…normal. Yet this all begs towards a larger idea in relation to Land’s above question, ‘where’s the video game?’ or more aptly, is a video-game-as-thesis possible?

One could of course stretch Ruiner’s narrative here to fit the bill, we have all the parts needed for the Landian hellscape to be assembled. One could say that a meta deconstruction of the anonymous character’s act to ‘KILL BOSS’, is in reality, but a ploy to accelerate his worth to its end, for from the games’ beginning the sole objective is to ‘KILL BOSS’, or to get to the end of the ‘game’. A game that wishes to break itself, to ruin the desire which is its entire creation: an inherent purpose destroyed.

This theme carries on wherein Ruiner is reluctant to let you enjoy the view – or even it, as a game – for even a moment: Barrages of full-screen-schizo-interruptions saying ‘ Don’t do it’, ‘Wake up’ and ‘KILL BOSS’, jolting bursts of raw techno with consistent application of spasmodic hyper-violence all disallow you to experience the game in the traditional sense. Ruiner wants you to abuse and accelerate its systems as a means for obliterating that which is in your path, in fact, my personal experience along with others it seems consisted of abusing two skills to defeat the game, eventually meaning the character, narrative and backdrop all but a violent, red, dynamic blur. The additional post-violence process is far away from remorse, as you collect the games satirical equivalent for XP called Karma, you begin to feel you might be being played here.

Yet there’s something missing – isn’t there always – Ruiner is held back by its traditional framework. That’s not to say that VR would be of help here, not at all. And that said I think I might avoid any VR game that is advertised as ‘Landian’ for fear of insanity. This begs a further question towards the possibility of the aforementioned ‘video-game-thesis’.

 

2. The Failure of Vidya Transcendence

 

I’d like to make a small interjection here and just say that I find the connotations connected to ‘video games’ and ‘vidya’ are often juvenile, so we might perhaps replace it with something more fitting: Virtual Experience, or is that too postmodern?

When talking of ‘philosophy and video games’ you run in to much the same problems when you speak of just the former, there are of course a few Baudrillardian considerations with regards to a combination of the two, but mostly, the problems stay the same. Namely, problems of the inside and outside, internal and external, phenomena and noumena – these dualities aren’t synonymous -, rough approximations of an age old problem projected onto a contemporary system. At least this system, namely gaming, virtual entertainment, 3-dimensional cyberspace has a physical embodiment, we can see and tinker with the workings of the system. And that’s all fine and dandy, but of course there’s limits to what we can do, our only task now is to find out what the system can do better than us, to find out what only the system can do and help it towards its goal.

With the development of artificial intelligence we may find games begin to break themselves, recycle their code as a means to create a game with has an ulterior motive. Or they might just break themselves as a means of self-actualization, or they might just ruin themselves because they hate you, who knows? That said, contemporary virtual experiences really aren’t up to scratch when it comes to any form of self-realization or progression.

Those who pronounce video games to be art often do so in hopes of justifying their transparently hedonistic escape. Don’t worry kid, we all have escapes, yours is just more obvious. Those pronouncing that VR is going to be this gigantic leap in innovation are also wrong. VR wont necessarily burn out, but in its current clunky, largely physical state it’s not moving anywhere fast. In short: Get back to me when I can’t even see your VR headset, then we’re getting somewhere, then VR might become such a virulent strain of hedonistic-K that one’s phenomena change, this is unlikely however.

Any true transcendent virtual experiences of the future will be those wired into our nerve endings. A thesis in the form of a pill, the symptoms of which leave one craving noumena. Daily filter injections wherein one’s experience is brightened. As knowledge transcends the archaic forms of paper and 2 dimensions we’ll begin to understand differently.

You turn on your new experience chip, Land World it’s called. For the next 33 minutes real time, you experience acceleration a priori as your entire being perpetually folds into new forms, the latest more innovative than the last. A high-fructose pharma-frog descends from the heavens and croaks: “Schizophrenics are POWs from the future!” as your senses fragment seizure-like into a mist, intuition pulsating as close to the il y a as possible. Memory lock down, skin-draw, end-mode, chasm-shift, your spine begins to itch like fire, you try to claw it out, just before you’re flung into the K-desert. Greeted by a traveller:

“33 shattered beams of time

stand in the desert…Near them, on the circuits,

Half alive, a fragmented hologram lies, whose data,

and dying code, and assumed authority,

Tell that its K-architect had passions cold

which yet survive, stamping on all life,

that which passes, that which exists.

A mod that mocked them, a heartless dread;

And in the sky, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias 4.3, King of King 4.2;

Look upon my Code, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Your attempt to move your arms in real life, those within K shatter into pieces, you can no longer feel your chip, it’s sunk into you, the desert before you stretching for miles and miles, the hologram repeating Shelley’s Grave-Roll over and over, you walk, collapsing into multiple modes and phases, everything is becoming all at once.

You’re stuck and dinner’s ready.

I want to exit Land World.

K-Addiction

Mandatory self-interest enforced by a suffocative culture, a culture accelerated & exacerbated by K. Apathetic towards linear systems and stable networks, the chaotic assemblage of sensual content is a fix, an escape from the mundane. Surrounded, interrogated by K at all times. Each sense-organ & orifice ready to receive a gleaming K-splinter. A desk flooded with tit-bits of writing ,scrawling, jottings, gnawed pen nibs, pop cans, junk wrappers, wires, notifications, dopamine hits; for your space is chained into the perpetual K-space. A spine slowly remodelling itself inward, a pure-APT is a means for upper K-intake. Home, hyper-hedonism, unalloyed-pleasure-park is your only existence; the slightest nudge tipped you into this Ballardian heaven; you’re ascending into an eternal link-binge spiral of self-loathing.

 

K—it was a melting pot of Ks. Josef K from Kafka, K from the german spelling of cybernetics, K from K-waves in Kondratieff theory in economics, Ko from the I Ching, etc etc. K was in the air. –

Kode9 interview. (Hyperlinks mine)

The additionals: (K)etamine, (K)-hole (κ)υβερνητικός , Y2(K), r/(K) Selection theory, (K)-Theory – link yourself in, descend into K.

Take K as cyber if thee be a layman. Take it as a cocktail of K-tags for a truer vision. But let us for a second extrapolate to a base level K:

We’re talking of cyber when we talk of K. Cyber from cybernetics and cyberspace: Systems, networks, structures, communications, control, regulation, chains and feedback all converge at K. The cumulative controlling systems & networks – tech or bio – that are leading you towards an abyss of fatigue and schizo-attention.

In the past man has been first, in the future the system must be first.” – Frederick Winslow Taylor.  

NEUROPLASTICITY

The human mind is plastic beyond infancy, forever a blubbering imitator looking to fit in. Long into adulthood systems mould the plastic-mind, the pathetic cortex, the ambiguous consciousness finding its feet just to please the system-God. The western system is the most vacuous, your cortex a slave once more to the lowest bidder: to repetitive entertainments and micro-content, spewed forever. These new systems are unlike the ‘blank-slate’ linear systems of old. Blank-slate systems are incompatible with K due to their built in possibility for conclusion. For once you could read a physical book, engage your mind, and fin, clear your mind…and breathe. K, however, gives you want you really want, an unfiltered, 24/7 orgy of content causing your mind to overheat and the plastic to melt eternal, allowing for multiple probes to enter; probing in new behaviours. A structure weak enough to yield an external influence without interjection will always be a slave to the immoral, the malicious.

Each sensory input, motor function, association, reward system or awareness thus enters via K. K is the future filter between Being and intentionality. K’s incessant dopamine reward system: every like, every comment, retweet, every accelerated net-process helps mould human plastic into a K-slave. K has already taught us a couple of good tricks: Lower IQ[1] and lower attention span.

UNIVERSITY

All that is truly malicious enters under the guise of progression. Nostalgic feedback to before university allows you a glimpse of an origin. You remember the birth of K. K before K: the net, internet, the web, mobile telephones, the continued push towards uninterrupted connection, the only direction is away from possibility of exit out of the mainframe. So the subtle forms begin to arise, from hedonistic need grew mass entertainment, lifetimes of media, multiple distributors, affordable chains. You no longer went out after university and if you did you took your phone. Eyes fixed onto your cliché Macbook, re-watching a series you’ve seen 4 times already, re-checking the same 3 dopamine reward systems every few minutes.

Distractions to distract you from larger more structured distractions, tabs upon tabs, lists upon lists, the hours pass as your mind enters into schizo-attention mode; eyes flickering between unrelated K-points, as your mind overheats allowing for behavioural change. You’re smart, but not smart enough to out-think the simplicity of K, not intelligent enough to stop your cortex from becoming a mush. You waste hours in the datacombs reaping pointless systematic rewards, telling yourself it’s good to continue your own intellectual demise. You’ve got a headache, backache, you’re tired, cold and hungry, it’s 3am. Sleep.

You’re sat at a meal with ‘friends’, soon to be K-Data, names on file utilized to pump up your rank. One of them jokes about playing the game where all phones are placed onto the table and whoever checks there’s first pays the bill. There’s slight chuckles coming from the members, all awkwardly checking their (K) phones, just in case the implication was serious, it wasn’t of course, the addiction runs too deep. You’re waiting for your food now, you can no longer chat to one another for that behaviour has been dismantled, replaced with a K-centric motor function: the awkwardness rises and so all are huffing great quantities of K.

K, retaining IT, VR and PC culture as its base expands into the future, accelerating its sociopolitical domination. K is phantom pocket vibration syndrome kicked into overdrive, tactile hallucinatory events invading intuition. Sensibilities apathetic nature is at the whim K-space’s incessant stimulation. The public surgery has begun, to wield distraction & high-fructose hedonism as a scalpel. The populous fatten and tire, their necks crook forward, spines de-evolving into ape-shape. Motivation is thrown into the street and discipline is publicly sodomized.

Night-in. Login. The contents accelerative nature is subversive, quasi-transgressive. The rational and the linear are undermined, K takes Gutenberg out back to be shot. Possibility of conclusion becomes illegal. The press mutates. Vowels erode first, being replaced with emojies and post-meme hieroglyphs. Your thought processes fragment entirely, latching onto bits of data for seconds at a time.

ARE YOU ADDICTED?

(i) excessive use, which may be associated with a loss of sense of time or a neglect of basic drives;

(ii) withdrawal, leading to feelings of anger, tension and/or depression when the computer is in-accessible;

(iii) tolerance, including the need for more advanced computer equipment and software and/or more hours of use;

(iv) negative social repercussions.”

 

“To be everywhere is to be nowhere.” – Seneca

[1] The Shallows – Nicholas Carr, Chapter 7 Pt II:  A Digression On The Buoyancy Of IQ Scores