Advances in technology will soon make all of life a game. Or has it happened already?
Mar 7, 2010
Treasure World for the Nintendo DS is a really strange game. It works this way -- the DS can detect wi-fi signals, and each wi-fi signal has a unique id. In Treasure World, each wi-fi signal you find is a treasure! So, to "play" you just leave your DS on (you can keep it closed) and roam around the wi-fi rich world. Everyone asks, "Is that all you do?" and, yeah, pretty much. I mean, they work hard to put the treasures into types, so that you are forever trying to complete sets, and the treasures do minor cosmetic things, such as complete outfits for your "avatar", and even become musical notes for songs that you collect, but yeah, mostly this is a game about going for quantity. It is eye-opening to play it, though, because you start to see how many wi-fi signals exist in the world. On one 2 hour car trip, I found 300 treasures. And it changes your behavior a little -- I found myself driving to work on different paths each day for a while, trying to up my treasures. The sweetest pleasure was unexpected -- I was visiting a major corporation, and I had my DS on and in my pocket, and I felt like some kind of master thief, sneaking in and stealing their treasures. If the DS had unlimited battery, I'd probably do this more, but as it stands, it takes a bit of battery management to play this in any serious way. And I can't help but wish that there was more "in-world" challenge -- maybe the treasures could be monsters to fight, etc. Anyway, I get the feeling that more advanced, more interesting versions of this same concept will appear. I also think how strange it is that if I took this game backwards in time just fifteen years, how weird it is that it would be completely unplayable. I remember reading Bruce Sterling's Islands In the Net in the early nineties, where he describes pretty much the wi-fi system we have today, and thinking, "no way -- wireless internet everywhere? It's way too complicated and expensive -- that won't happen." Turns out I was totally wrong -- it's here, and now it's a game, too.