Thursday, December 19, 2002
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Another World: Images

One of the big challenges for Another World is to find some new way to reconcile computer games and sex.

For the most part, games flee from sexuality. Partly, this is politics: game players are often young, and the game audience is drawn from countries (US, Japan, Korea) where the sexuality of young people is a sensitive topic right now. Partly, this is marketing: a small but vital part of the American audience are early adolescent boys who are famously allergic to overt displays of sexual feelings.

But part of the problem, I expect, is that the novelty of computers has tended to push artists toward the extremes: extremely literal representation in games and extremely allusive metaphor in hyperfiction.

Alvin Ray Smith says, "At Pixar, they have a word for almost human but not quite: monster." Monsters are interesting. Movies about monsters (Toy Story, Spirited Away, Ants) are fun. But sleeping with monsters is another thing. Cultures tell lots of stories as guides to sexual behavior, but almost everyone has the story about sleeping with monsters. It never ends well. (Occasionally, the monster is divine, but even then it's usually a mixed blessing for everybody)

Hyperfiction, hypermedia, and cybertext have tended to run in the other direction, and where love and desire appear, they have often been metaphors or generalizations. Though Shelley Jackson wrote My Body, the titles read merely the body and though the body in question is hers, it's not obvious that she'd have written a very different story if she had another woman's body instead.

This is yet another case where immersion is a suspect quality, where My Friend Hamlet is in for a rough time. April is in my mistress' face. My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun. (more on AnotherWorld)