QUESTIONS – ANSWERS – QUOTATIONS
Here’s a selection of frequently asked questions and snippets from answers given from time to time. I’ve also included a random scatter of quotations (by other human beings) from a long list of excellent aphorisms I’ve cut and pasted together over the years. Most of the extracts still fit the author’s world-view. It is what it is.
#1 RIGHT PLACE, RIGHT TIME?
I’d always liked numbers and reading so when this new invention – the microprocessor – led to the first generation of 8-bit home computers, I got a BBC Micro Model B on my 11th birthday. Like most kids, I accepted this world-changing ‘tool’ as if it had always been part of everyday life. Took to it like a duck to water.
Coding came easy: BBC Basic, dabbling in LISP, COBOL, PASCAL and proto-C, then – getting serious about coding – 6502 Assembler because with 32K memory there wasn’t a choice if you wanted to create anything ground-breaking. Back then higher level programming languages were interpreted i.e. slow. A game-writing competition aimed at encouraging elementary school children pushed me into using machine code to make things fast and smooth enough to be playable.
Kids have advantages when it comes to absorbing what adults perceive as cutting edge information technology. To me at 11 or 12, learning how to code to a fairly expert level was fun. I liked the maths and the binary boolean memory work. I would absorb new techniques like an eager sponge, spending weeks writing my own implementations of popular game titles. It was lucky timing. Had computers been invented today it’d have been a very different story.
#2 WELCOME TO CYBERSPACE?
They say books and television bring the big wide world into your bedroom and if that’s true, the modem brought your bedroom into the world. The ingredients for exciting teenage creativity came together in an organic mix of interests and circumstances. For me: a natural love of epic storytelling progressed from classic mythologies and fantasy CYOA books to J.R.R. Tolkien, early computer text adventures got me interested in tabletop roleplaying games (like Dungeons&Dragons and M.E.R.P.) and the modem became a portal to a thrilling cyberspace of mainframes and bulletin boards and a weird cast of outlier personalities. A year later I’d found my way to Mirrorworld, an ingenious multi-user text adventure game. It didn’t take long for me to start dreaming of making an epic game of my own and that’s what happened.
The creation of Avalon – as the first consistent persistent game-world for many concurrent players, unfolding in real-time – became an ambitious prototype for future multi-player game development. Avalon pioneered the paradigm of an interactive online RPG executed with all the detail of tabletop roleplaying games: player character-sheets complete with classes, skills and diverse abilities; possessions and economics; complex combat; cities and guilds; democratic elections and aristocracy, Gods and monsters; richly textured quests and, as a through-line, player-evolved living history.
Avalon recently passed its thirtieth anniversary – the longest running game of its kind – and plenty of info can be found, for those interested in such things, grandfathered into the wonderful world wide web. Avalon actually predates the web but joined it early and – small potatoes in the big picture of the vast corporate gaming industry – the explosion of all things internet nonetheless brought exposure to Avalon’s esoteric niche.
Nothing lasts forever, but the venerable game and emergent opportunities made for a rare financial independence by 21. This freedom was always a goal I had intended to achieve early and, all in all, it has funded a mostly splendid and singular life experience.
#1 PROSAIC SCIENCE
For us human beings, born primate, bred storyteller, we are terribly mismatched with our technological future. Philosophy and narrative become our poetry and metaphor; socio-economics define the play in which we all have our parts; but reality, the fundamental nuts and bolts, truth and fact, to which science aspires to understand in a way that carries objective meaning across generations: this must be sold in iambic pentameter soliloquy when in practice it must be communicated in relentlessly practical lingua franca prose.
Faith may fill the wide tracts of ignorance space with captivating nebula of answers but the dogma of today is doomed to be the fairytale of tomorrow. The Gods of Olympus, the deities of Egypt, the divine Ahura Mazda of Zoroastria: wonderful religious stories but superseded, retired as myths though once their dogma held sway over millions.
Humans live out a complex mandala of narratives but faith in anything that hasn’t an objectively persistent basis in reality is gambling on a widening odds. Cognitive dissonance is a powerful carapace but it’s a seal that eventually suffocates its host.
#3 EXISTENTIALISM – NIHILISM – POST-MODERNISM
Existentialism is born of relativity having destroyed classical empiricism (object yin-subject-yang).
Nihilism is a personal reaction to existentialism (unreconciled ego).
Post-modernism is the Academy tantrum-algorithm E=MC2 – existentialism and relativism.