Virtually Real, Really Virtual

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One of the biggest reasons why I have not been posting as much as I have in the past is because I needed a break.  I also had a few issues in coming up with material I could work with in a blog that made me feel like it was worth my time to do so.  For me, the easiest way to do that is find a game that I would be interested enough in playing and just lose myself in it for a little while.  This is not exactly the ideal solution to make use of my time, as I should really take up a more constructive hobby, but it was something I simply chose to do for a little while.

Now that I am bored enough of it to move on I can shift focus my focus to not only expressing my opinions in written form, but other endeavors as well.  Perhaps it may come as no surprise what inspires me to write at this particular moment is thinking about the game I had just played.

It is called Anno 2070.  It is one of the newer installments of the Anno Gaming Universe where it presents scenarios of different eras that go as far back as 1404 AD.  What I found remarkable about this particular series was how religion played a huge role in how to play the game that saw the eras of 1404, 1602 and 1701.  To attempt to game without acknowledging how important opportunities to express faith proved to be a serious handicap to the ability to get the most out of this game with the best possible results you can hope for.  In the 2070 version, however, religion was not even a factor.  With this particular edition of the Anno Universe it was following the belief system which best suited a specific faction.  In the year of 2070 it was choosing between environmentalists, business tycoons and scientists.

Then again, maybe the difference in belief systems between the folks of 1404 and the folks of 2070 are not really all that different.  The point is they believed in something and it shaped how each of them would live their lives, not just as individuals but as an entire society.  As important as it was to recognize those beliefs and cater to them in the fictional world of gaming I find it is equally important to do the same in the real world as well.

One of the things I find most fascinating about games like Anno, Tropico, Sim City and other world building games is playing the role of God.  In these games I am the government.  I get to choose how I want to do things and pending on how the game itself has been set up, I can either make every effort possible to play the game fairly or cop out with cheat codes so that no matter what I do I do not have to worry about the consequences for as long as I get the end result desired.

When I look at how some of these games are set up I find how ironic something as simple as games often has interesting innuendos within it that has a knack to point out both the accomplishments and flaws of how our society has transformed itself from one generation to the next.

The first gaming series that comes to mind is The Sims.  The first edition came out in 2000.  We are now at Sims 4, which came out in 2014.  I have owned all four editions, along with their expansion packs, and the biggest observation I made was the deterioration of ethics that has occurred.  In the older versions there was no such thing as adultery.  Now in the latest version of the series adultery is virtually a non-existent issue.

I no longer play The Sims and refuse to have anything further to do with the series.  Although I do acknowledge the makers of this game went with the wishes and demands of the buying public, the fact that what I felt used to be a relatively classy game for God-wannabes has now become more raunchy than ever.  It has me questioning just who we all are now as human beings.  In just 14 years since this series was launched the game we see in it just how much society has changed along the way.

I abandoned The Sims for the city and world building games that choose not to be so detailed, but even there I see as each new edition arises as a sign of improvement to the previous one I also see how the societies within them change as well.  Where I find amusement in how some of these games (especially Tropico) poke fun at the current state of society at the timing when the game is made and released.  Nothing seems to be sacred when it comes to pointing out the concerns stemming behind environmental issues, agriculture, military and political.  It is as if the makers of the game are trying to tell people something as they play in their own way.  Perhaps it is their attempt to downplay the severity of these issues in games such as these.

Either way, those concerns that society faces, both in years gone by and for today are very real, even when pointed out in the fictional world of game play.  Whatever choices the player makes in the game plays a decisive impact on the development of the city, continent or world it is set in.

It is very much like how it is here in the real world.  The only major difference is while in gaming mode we have the option to restart the game from scratch if for some reason we do not care for the results stemming from the decisions we have made within it.  No harm done.  Just take another stab at it like as if nothing ever happened.

In the real world we are not so fortunate.  Reality has it where there is no gaming menu we can choose from in order to instantly fix the damage that has already been done.  Here in the real world we have to find solutions to fix the problems we create in hopes it will be enough.

Unfortunately in this world, much like how the gaming world points them out, we are dealing with the tycoons (corporations) who are more interested in profit than they are in people.  Just like in the Anno 2070 game, the tycoons pour all their focus on how to improve their economical situation rather than pay any attention to the environmental impact their personal greed is causing.

And, just like Anno 2070, the environmentalists of this world are in opposition of virtually every move the corporations make and visa versa.  Even in the game you see their icons polar opposite from each other as the environmentalists have green as their identification markers and the corporate tycoons have a silver shade.

In Anno 2070 there is a third faction, but even among them they are divided.  They are the scientists.  The first cluster of scientists seem to side with the environmentalists as they seem to acknowledge mankind has a tremendous responsibility to protect the world, even as we continue to develop new technologies to better our everyday way of life.  In the game they have blue icons to identify them from the others.

The second version of this scientific community come across as a more secretive and sinister group where the thought of anybody attempting to follow in their footsteps becomes a potential invite for war.  Just like in the real world, the Anno 2070 versions of these two scientific factions are in direct opposition with each other.  The icon color for this particular group of scientists is purple.

So if you are wondering why I make a point to describe the colors and the organizations they are associated with it is because how I find even in a game such as Anno 2070 how ironic they are compared to real life.  Green is the color known worldwide to be associated with environmentalists and all those who side with them.  Silver (grey) is often seen as a cold color and is the typical metal (or color) of choice when it comes to coinage.  Coins is money and the term of Cold Hard Cash comes to mind and it seems so very true when one takes into consideration that corporations are formed by tycoons who choose profits over people.

Blue for the scientists who put ethics before ego strike me as individuals who seek to improve upon the air we breathe, the waters we drink and swim from and the lifestyles we wish to improve upon without causing additional ecological damage to an already overly fragile planet that has taken way more punishment than it deserves.  In fact, they do what they can to somehow reverse the damage we have already done in hopes that the world can still be saved.

Purple is for the scientific community who conduct their research in an arrogant manner.  Purple is often the color of choice that associates itself with royalty and in this particular case, this particular scientific community somewhat comes across with the notion that without them nobody would be getting anywhere.  This particular faction of the scientists tend to work more closely with the industrialism promoted by corporations.

In the virtual world of gaming, television and movies we repeatedly encounter tales of two very different sides that are in direct opposition of each other in order for each of them to achieve their ultimate goals.  In the classic good guy vs. bad guy scenarios we almost always root for the folks we can clearly see is trying to right some wrongs, or go as extreme as attempting to save the entire planet or universe.

For me, whether it be as a gamer or show watcher, it seems to be so much easier to identify who the bad guys are.  However, in the shows we watch, the heroic characters we tend to root for seem to live in a world where only they see the horrors of what is really going on and makes an effort to do something about it.  Not only do we side with them, but sometimes even mock the other characters, wondering how they can be so oblivious to the obvious.

Sadly, this is how it is in real life too.  Those who are dubbed as activists or conspiracy theorists in this world are mocked, ridiculed and shunned by the very same type of crowd we see in the movies.  Just like in the movies, in this world the good guys are painted as the bad guys by those who want the world to see them this way.  Repeatedly, just like in the shows we watch, the masses are manipulated into believing the lies they are told by those whom they trust the most.

Bottom line is every single one of us needs to wake up and realize the world we live in very real, but at the same time fictional.  Too many of us have fallen for the lies and continue to believe them despite the growing evidence that presents themselves before us in ways that make them harder to ignore.  Those who want to keep us controlled go to great lengths to keep us brainwashed through commercialism, fear tactics and law creation that by no means does the human race any good.  Each of us are being systematically turned into puppets, much like the Borg from the Star Trek Universe.  We are being desensitized so that whatever ounce of compassion we have within us is replaced by cold hearts who care about nothing other than obeying superiors without question.  For those who dare to oppose this they are instantly cast out in an effort to prevent them from becoming a real threat.

What we see in the real world is very much like what we see in the games, shows and movies we encounter.  We are living in a world where the reality of it is blurred by the distractions constantly thrown at us by those who do not want us to turn into those heroic characters some of us have been known to idolize.  If each of us became more like Batman where we take it upon ourselves to tear through the deception in our quest to figure out the truth we would most definitely be living in a very different reality than what we experience today.  The Jokers of this world would not be getting away with the crimes they commit against humanity if we honestly had it our way.

If each of us shared the same level of patriotism in the human race like Superman, Wonder Woman, Iron Man and the X-Men all those villains that are determined to snuff us all out would not stand a chance.  People who literally get away with murder would no longer have this ability.  Those in law enforcement and legal professions would have to do their jobs and put honor back into a system where bad guys who do wrong are promptly punished for it and the good guys can go on living knowing that it is they that are in control and not the evils that lurk among them.

Unfortunately this is not the world we live in right now.  The bad guys, just like in those movies, are getting away with the most horrendous crimes known to man while the good guys, despite their best attempts to save humanity, are being singled out, punished and eliminated.  For as long as the majority of the human race remain asleep, or apathetic to what is going on, the evils of this world will continue to deceive us all that the reality we live in is perfectly acceptable.

Wake up, people.  It is not.  Their reality is our virtual nightmare that will continue until there really is nothing left.  We cannot allow that to happen.  We have to shake ourselves awake, stay awake and do in real life what we are capable of in the virtual realities we encounter in the games we play.  We have the power to liberate this world from the tyranny that cripples it and save humanity from the tyrants who are out to destroy it.

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