Why We Play

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The Game You Don't Just Play

You're playing your favorite game, and you find that you need to take a break.  You put down the controller and walk away.  The camera built in to the television notes that you've moved out of the room and darkens the screen.  Your console uploads your current game state to the Internet and saves a local copy.  It then enters a low-power standby state.

On a remote server, your game state is analyzed, transcoded, and added to a simulation pool.  Your character goes on living.  People talk to her.  People ask her to help them.  And she does.  She makes mistakes, like you do.  She grows wiser, like you do.  She sleeps on her own schedule.

After a few hours, you return to the room.  You've prepared some food, and you're ready for some passive entertainment.  You pick up the controller and the TV lights up.  You see your character, but she's not as you left her.  She's in a place you've never seen before.  She has new scars.  She has some unusual companions.  You set down the controller and watch.  Your character has a conversation with her new friends.  They agree to travel with her, and she finds a suitable vehicle to carry them all.

After a while, you decide to see what your friend is up to.  The camera sweeps into the air, skims through the lower atmosphere, and glides down into a high mountain valley, where your friend's character sits beside a campfire.  There is a clatter of rocks, and the character stands warily, picking up his rifle.  Just outside the circle of firelight, you hear strange speech in a language you've never heard.  Your friend's character speaks into a device at his shoulder and raises his rifle.

A blaze of light from above illuminates the valley, revealing a number of tall, thin humanoids encircling the camp.  There are even brighter flashes and blue bolts of energy lance in from the sky, cutting down some of the tall figures.  Turbines whine and a sudden wind whips the scrubby pine trees into dancing.  Your character drops from the open hatch of a ship, a strange device in each hand.  She faces the oncoming humanoids, raises her hands, and jams the two devices together.  A dome of green laser light sweeps out from her, tracing over every object in the valley.  There's a pause, and then the humanoids begin slipping apart, falling into piles of thinly-sliced pieces.

Your character joins that of your friend and they salute.  The ship swoops in and they climb aboard.  You've taken control.  You've saved your friend.  But your character has had her own adventures too, and tomorrow, you might rewind her timeline and see all that she's strived for and achieved.  For now, you play.