Thursday, April 15, 2021

Beta Testing by Stephen Hosking

Thank you for choosing the Human Condition™. At BioCloud Industries we understand you have a wide range of potential entertainment systems available to you and we appreciate your custom.
You have selected ‘beginner.’ Is this correct?
A wise choice if this is your first time experimenting. Please note gameplay is adaptive, meaning difficulty will increase the more proficient you become.
Let me give you a moment to orientate yourself. Enjoy your physical form, especially your legs and your teeth. You’ll understand later. I should also warn you the experience is utterly immersive: as time passes memories of your current life will fade leaving only a nagging sense of some indefinable creative power. Your fellow gamers call this religion. Or spiritualism. Or sometimes just “being really baked.”
Yes, those are your genitals. No, you won’t go blind. You’ll enjoy them later, everyone else seems to, one of the big hits amongst seasoned veterans. Someone got promoted for that before they realised users became consumed with insecurity rather than just enjoying them. Not big enough. Not sufficiently aesthetically pleasing. The wrong shape. Too late once you’re up the ladder sipping that corporate champagne. Someone else can take the fall for implementation failures.
Can you leave those alone and pay attention to me? One hint: our leader board is filled with people who choose their own criteria for victory rather than someone else’s. If winning’s important to you.
So, the middle of the tutorial. Childhood is the first stage, which is mostly fun. There’ll be plenty of crying, and other fluids too, but the scars shouldn’t run deep unless you’re very unfortunate. There’re a number of bugs we’re looking to fix. But you know that. You replied to the ad.
Then comes adolescence. Still got those genitals? Good. More insecurity, more fluids. First heartbreak is pretty rough, more crying I’m afraid, but lots of fun stuff to go with it. And the energy. You won’t realise it at the time but feeling energetic, healthy and excited by things is about as good as it gets later and that’s the default setting for 16-30. It’s great knowing with absolute certainty that you’re right about everything too. Some people manage to hold on to that one to the very end of the game.
Anyway, next you grow up and it’s all about choice. Choose a career, relationship, or none, or multiples of each (careful) and get into the rhythm of the thing. Choose to get fitter or fatter, smarter or stupider, happier or more lachrymose. There are big choices and little ones, and all the while you lose energy, but you mind about things a lot less, which is a relief in itself. Most of the time you’re sort of numb and on autopilot. It’s weirdly pleasant.
What do you mean, ‘is this a popular game?’ I’m going to ignore that. The best is yet to come, anyway. Old age is the last level. When you get there, you’re allowed to be rude to everyone. That’s right. Everyone. And people treat you with respect whether you deserve it or not, and you’re allowed to stay in your dressing gown all day and drink gin. I designed that bit. I’m not one to brag, but given corporate’s bloody restrictions I worked miracles.
There are loads of bugs, obviously. We’ve tried our best to patch them; universal healthcare, technology to predict natural disasters, warmer temperatures, but they’re not taking in many places. Besides, most of the bugs seem to be caused by other gamers rather than the mainframe. Just write down anything you have feedback on.
I’ll leave you to figure out the rest of the controls. Try to have fun without hurting anyone else otherwise the marshals will remove you. Hm? Oh, it’s not pleasant, put it that way. Remember, behind each avatar is a living being.
Any questions? What would I do? Try to win the very first round – sort of a fastest finger first deal – that’s coming next. If you don’t it’ll be a short game and you have to go through the tutorial all over again.
Good luck!

© Stephen Hosking

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