Friday, July 15, 2011
Role-Playing in the Future: The Holo Deck
I grew up watching TNG and later Deep Space Nine, and haven't had a real chance to check it out again since I was a kid. I've never watched it from beginning to end and know that I've missed a ton of episodes in their original run. I know the first two seasons are supposed to be the rocky ones (and make no mistake, these uniforms are terrible!),
but so far I've been very amused throughout and only skipped
over one or two of the first 30 episodes.
Since being at least twice as old now as I was when I last watched an episode, a lot of things pop out at me as being much better than I remember. First of all, Data is awesome, and Data trying to learn about comedy is even awesomer. Riker is cooler, somehow, than I remember him being. Red Shirts, at least in TNG, are not nearly as cannon foddery as I seem to recall them being (of course I'm only a little more than two seasons in, and who knows what will come about).
The coolest trend I've picked up on out of all of them is that everyone role plays in the future. In fact, the main form of entertainment is not watching TV (there aren't any aboard the Enterprise) or surfing the inter-galactic-net (which I just made up) on their spiffy voice-activated laptops, and no one bothers to pull out a smart phone at all. Oh God, this is starting to sound boring... No! The crew and passengers of the Enterprise do one thing for fun - LARP! Well, they also play 3d chess or something and drink a lot. And some of them play musical instruments, but you get the picture!
They can LARP in any fictional setting or any historical time period. Picard, in an early episode, LARPs an event from his own personal history even! I loved the episode in season 2 where Data is Sherlock and Geordi is Dr. Watson. Geordi very explicitly states that the Holodeck is a game with rules and challenges, and if you (or an android who's downloaded the entire Sherlock library to his hard drive) know how the story/game ends, where's the challenge?
I can't think of a better future really than one where we get to play out our adventures in real time with fantastic costumes, amazing special effects, and hard-light objects with extremely powerful non-lethal protocols running 24/7. I don't have any interest to LARP as it stands in America, unless you count nerfin' around as a LARP, but just imagine a world where you have access to True Dungeon whenever you can schedule a session for the room. With the concepts of the Singularity as a backdrop, maybe it'll be quite the opposite of what TNG suggests. Instead of us going into the big room physically, our brains will be able to host the big room directly, and we'll be able to play out our Friday night games directly via thought and dreams. We live in exciting times, and it's really only going to get cooler!
As long as Riker's wearing a beard of course.