A Bad Horse

“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” says the proverb. But the intention behind the gift should be held up to scrutiny.

The latest digital game store, née Epic Games Store, store offers a free new game every two weeks to anyone who creates a (free) account.

It is a fantastic initiative. These are not amateur games, nor especially old ones – although, in the world of video games, a two-year-old game may seem ancient.

But I feel this is a missed opportunity. The price of games is a big barrier to entry, to bringing new people to the world of video games. This free games initiative could be used to showcase to this audience – the audience who only knows one or two games from the YouTubes – some of the classics of the last handful of years. It would have to be a selection that would simultaneously be representative of what is good in video games, and accessible to less experienced people.

Instead, the games offered are games that are a hard sell for initiates, games that appeal far more to veteran players who, for one reason or another, didn’t play them when they were released.

Games like Super Meat Boy or Axion Verge are great for me, a guy who has been into this for over two decades, but will be of zero interest my younger sister. And Thimbleweed Park may remind my father of the adventure games of old, but it will only make him conclude that nothing has changed in the intervening 25 years.

On the other hand, the fantastic Tetris 99 on the Switch was a success in this regard. Nintendo is, as usual, way ahead in the game. Good to see someone bringing the right horse!

The Time Machine II

Let us assume that we do not yet have a time machine, not because time travel is not possible at all, but because it is not possible in physical terms.

In this paradigm, the hypothetical temporal traveler would be sent into the past or future by a time machine that would be anchored to “their” present.

And since we have already established that a time machine, should it exist, would be used infinitely, the corollary is that any traveler could not be present in the non-native timeline in their physical form.

After all, we occasionally hear from a madman who claims to have come from the past or from the future; we do not hear from hundreds of them. And the few we hear from are always quite ignorant of historical facts, and incapable of getting right the most pedestrian of predictions.

Therefore, if time travellers exist, they will be more like observers; they can see other timelines, but not interact in them. Or if they do interact, it would be in a way that  would be indistinguishable to what we call “the supernatural”; for us, events occurring from their actions would look like an inexplicable phenomenon.

But here we return to the problem of infinite reuse; sure, whenever it would hypothetically be invented, a time machine could be considered a dangerous and difficult instrument to produce. But let’s not forget how little time it took for us to go from a world where there only existed two atomic bombs, in the possession of a single country, to thousands of them scattered all over the world.

Technology multiplies exponentially. If it were possible to send people to the past, and if the manifestation of it their actions would  equate to what we call the “supernatural”…  Every house would be haunted.

Photo Credit: salvobrick Flickr via Compfight cc

The Time Machine I

It’s not possible to build a time machine.

If it was, we would already have one.

From the moment a time machine exists, people will use it infinite times. If time-travel is used endless times, sooner or later, by intention or accident, the means for such will end up in “our” hands. Or those of our ancestors.

The other possibility is: from the moment one goes back in time, one creates a new universe. Which means that, for the practical purposes of ordinary 4-dimensional mortals like ourselves, who inhabit this universe exclusively… There is not and will never be a time machine.

The third possibility is that the time machine, and they who use it, do not move through time in the same plane of existence as us, are not perceivable by us in any way.

More on this in an upcoming essay …