Wednesday, February 18, 2004

One of the things Norwegians miss when they go abroad, is seasons. While we dream of moving south, after a very short we discover that we need what we left: the cold, the storms, the darkness, because it comes before what makes us stay: the light, the colour, the wild fertility of what looked like dead wastes of waterscoured rock. The two-month night yields to the two-month day, and Norwegians feel such changes physically, pumped into the bloodstream, flooding the system.

There are no such seasons in virtual worlds. Oh yes, I know, changes and flow can be planned and coded, and virtual worlds have their own dynamic. But the light of the monitor is constant, and it triggers no urge to go outside, turn my face to the sun and think deliciously wicked thought of warmth and life.

I think this will be the ultimate limitation of cyberspace. Computer generated experiences will never be anything but toys of tools, depending on what we want with them. The immersiveness will be limited by the lack of diversity and surprises. How can we code the wind turning, the quick shift of light, the surprise of a new scent, the sensuality of reality?

As far as I have seen, virtual worlds do not aim at sensuality at all, they aim at cognisance, at understanding, decisions and rules, and the play demands for the body to be controlled, not for the body to be in control. Some games have interfaces that depend on the experience of the body, but these are typically arcade games: shooters, dance games, drum games. It is part of the sideshow, the sensual overload of the street, and you lose yourself in the movement, the participation and the mastery of the body for a short while.

Or am I mistaken? Where are the seasons, the sensous experiences, the rhetoric of the body in a virtual world?

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