Thursday, October 17, 2013

Google Alerts (Teaser) and Mirror's Edge

I've been looking into Google Alerts as a way of monitoring the Internet for information on digital worlds and civilizations, and I'm thinking that this will be a really effective way of catching the latest information on new technologies and trends. I made three different alerts today, and I'm going to monitor them over the next few days to see what quality of information it really picks up, and then I'll post a review on Monday as to my findings.

Creative Commons License, Tom Francis
In other news, I recently stumbled on a game called Mirror's Edge, and I've been enjoying exploring that world and thinking about the implications of some of the ideas. The game is based in a dystopian world wherein a hegemonic political/police entity controls all information highways. As a result, the only safe means of transporting information is through runners who use parkour (you should watch this: it's amazing) to navigate rooftops and abandoned buildings in their efforts to evade capture. The game originally interested me because of the parkour aspect, in that I'm working on a novel that features parkour runners or "kites," but in any case, as with most well-made games, Mirror's Edge has got me thinking about some other important ideas.

First among these is the idea of a world wherein information highways are controlled by some larger, malicious entity. This is something I've thought about in terms of our modern reliance on companies like Google, and while I'm glad that their policy is "Don't be evil," the fact that they have to remind themselves of that is kind of a concern. We've already seen some problems with this in terms of NSA surveillance, and the reality is that for every instance we've heard about, there are probably hundreds that remain masked in the obscurity of top-secret files and oaths muttered in darkness </melodramatic>. I don't necessarily think we're anywhere near the Mirror's Edge world, but I think it's an issue that will become more and more pertinent as we become more and more dependent on digital connectivity.

The other idea, which I'll address only nominally, is that of the dystopia as the modern genre. It seems like every video game, movie, and novel seems to be set in a dystopian world. I just wonder if this could be an indication of how we subconsciously (or consciously) view our own society. Could the digital or fictional worlds that we create actually be virtual extensions and expansions of our own worlds?

Anyway, below is a gameplay video from Mirror's Edge, though I honestly like the live action stuff from above a bit better. I'll post updates on stuff soon.