79: From the 360 to the Moon

From the 360 to the Moon

From the 360 to the Moon

I wouldn't call optimistic, adventurous, original science fiction dead quite yet. Just as an example, there was 2005's Accelerando, which, with its focus on the Internet and on artificial intelligence, I'd say would be the closest modern equivalent to the space- and robotics-based sci-fi of decades past. Just a new way of exploring a new space and reconsidering the definitions of "human" and "intelligent," is all.

As for science fiction in games, I could only point to a handful of real "hard" science fiction, things whose science are explained and plausible, but just don't exist yet. Obviously, you've got Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, whose elaborate science-fictitious technology trees are a futurist's dream. There's the upcoming Spore, which appears to make some clear assertions about the nature and destiny of civilization. The Fallout series is well-remembered for its depiction of the future of the real world, and I suppose even Starcraft has got "harder" bits than your run-of-the-mill space opera. I'm trying to think of a game which carries the philosophical (or, at the very least, psychological) component of a work of really noteworthy science fiction, but given the state of storytelling in games I'd suspect such a thing would exist largely by accident.

When someone comes up with an energy shield and says "I got the idea from Halo", shame on him. Give the credit to Halo? Come on. Do you really believe the concept of "energy shield" made a first appearance on that particular game?

Game creators are good at making fun with existing concepts. Deus Ex was not the first story to have biomods (implants), it was a awesome game that used the concept in a terrific way.

You could have said "Minority Report (the movie adaptation) shows a 3d interface", but I sincerely doubt anyone will brag along "Minority Report gave me the idea of a 3d interface".

Video games are not references for new concepts, new ideas, break-throughs in science, they are a powerful media. And when you combine a talented game designer with a great idea, you get awesome games. Making an energy field fun in a game is difficult. Getting the idea of an energy field is something else.

Game designers often cite their references. Give the credit to who deserves it.

Say that to a 7-year-old who doesn't read sci-fi but plays Halo 2 like there's no tomorrow.

In response to MacTuitui:

It's not so much that videogames take the credit for an idea... it's that they present the idea in such a stimulating way as to inspire others. If playing Halo inspires someone to invent an energy shield... great!

Great article, though I take issue with the statement in the first paragraph that Jules Verne produced harder science SF than HG Wells.

Verne's work, to me was always about a kind of exciting exotica of unexplored frontiers: the ocean depths, the surface of the moon, flight in the air.

Wells, however, worked from what was then very cutting-edge real-world stuff. In The Time Machine, for instance, he combined Darwin's evolutionary concepts with some Marx-Engels-based class ideas to come up with the ghastly Morlock-Eloi scenario. That's serious extrapolation for 1895.

And Bongo Bill you're right about Accelerando. It kicked my ass. After a decade of uninspired British space operas of phone-book thickness poorly imitating Eon and Schizmatrix, Accelerando has given me hope that things are looking up for the genre again.

And whilst on the topic of Wells, Cyberpunk was hardly the beginning of the "decidedly pessimistic turn" of Sci-Fi.

Sci-Fi has always had a dark vein in it. Well's vision of the future in Time Machine was hardly "utopic".

Bongo Bill:
As for science fiction in games, I could only point to a handful of real "hard" science fiction, things whose science are explained and plausible, but just don't exist yet. Obviously, you've got Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, whose elaborate science-fictitious technology trees are a futurist's dream. There's the upcoming Spore, which appears to make some clear assertions about the nature and destiny of civilization. The Fallout series is well-remembered for its depiction of the future of the real world, and I suppose even Starcraft has got "harder" bits than your run-of-the-mill space opera. I'm trying to think of a game which carries the philosophical (or, at the very least, psychological) component of a work of really noteworthy science fiction, but given the state of storytelling in games I'd suspect such a thing would exist largely by accident.

Thanks for link Bongo - Gonna check it out now. I think true science fiction needs to have research attached to it, most of what is billed as Sci-Fi is just Fantasy in a setting other than dragons / orcs / magic. Science fiction really has to take its roots in research for it to earn its name.

Although, you could be right...

Kotaku is reporting about a Halo inspired Body Armour

"I did look at Star Wars. I did look at Halo, the video game." says the inventor.

image

 

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