Elephantmen #43 (Image Comics - September 2012)
Illustrator: Brandon Graham
zero-mecha said: Is this gonna be a real game??
I’m getting close to a point where I can get this functioning the way I need it to — both the visual novel type conversations and the dungeon crawling style maze exploring/battles — but the real work is drawing and writing a bunch of stuff to fill out the actual game. So in short, I have no idea, but here’s hoping.
Ghost in the Shell
hi blade runner
basically every scifi anime in the 90’s was blade runner wasn’t it
Yeah, Blade Runner pretty much defined what “the future” looked like for a good twenty plus years or so. Plus cyberpunk has always had a thing with Japan, 80’s and 90’s cyberpunk especially. There’s some clear Japanese vibes going on in the design of LA in Blade Runner, plus William Gibson (cyberpunk’s other major totem) was definitely fascinated by Japan, calling it the closest thing to a cyberpunk city that existed.
It’s interesting the kinda feedback loop that went on there, American writers/filmmakers taking Japanese city designs to create these future cityscapes, then that getting filtered back into Japanese films/anime and their own interpretations of Japan.
Something about these tags grabbed me.
This also ended up being the inspiration for the main character of Assimilagent after RIKA looked at it and said, “Is that the main character?”
It wasn’t, just a random reblog, but it fit the aesthetic so WHAT THE HELL.
After all, the theme of our jam game was basically “THROW IT IN”.
DM-2019-XS [UT 2004] (by utXnet)
The entire Blade Runner city as rendered in the Unreal Tournament 2004 engine.
The entire city. Complete with hidden alleys, winding passages, glitzy neon and wasted, wet streets. Watch, download, enjoy, courtesy of utXnet.
Zero interest in Unreal Tournament. Massive amounts of interest in this.
Something that hit me the other night, when I was rambling about how fiction deconstructs (or doesn’t) the question of “what makes a human?”— I went to bed, and lay awake thinking about Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and then was hit by an epiphany about the book.
Do Androids Dream… is about a man who tries to prove his empathy to his neighbours— by buying a luxury pet— with money he gets from killing people.
If the book has anything particularly enlightening to say about human nature, it’s that it’s human nature to try to identify traits that make a person “worthy”, and then to commodify those virtues by turning them into a purchasable product, a form of social currency, or both, in turn stripping away any real worth the virtue had and leaving it as an empty symbol— because people will do anything, even violate the virtue, in order to get their hands on the cheap, status-boosting, no-real-effort-needed version of that virtue. In short, it’s human nature to ask “what is human nature?”, and then trade on a hollow version of that nature.
A version of “empathy” that requires little actual emotional investment (it’s possible to own and show off a pet without being particularly attached to it), is mostly deployed as a social strategy and easy personal reassurance of worth (the main reason to have a pet, in Do Androids Dream…, is to maintain social status with your neighbours, as well as to convince yourself that you’re a good person without actually needing to demonstrate this), and is often acquired at the expense of actual empathy (Deckard works as a bounty hunter in order to afford a pet), is hardly empathy at all. In fact, it’s pretty much anti-empathy: it’s callousness.
Deckard wants to own a pet for all the wrong reasons, and what he does to accomplish that goal is violent and destructive. There’s nothing ethically impressive about it. It’s a sop for his ego, like all status symbols, a way to become significant without actually having to change anything about himself. Similarly, the other ways in which people empathically relate to each other in the book— the religion of Mercerism, and Iran’s artificially-induced depression over the human condition— don’t achieve anything useful: they’re a kind of wallowing. They’re expressions of empathy for the sake of showing that one has empathy. Even though the point of Mercerism is to join with everyone else on the planet in shared suffering, it’s pretty much a masturbatory exercise. Does it actually change anything? Is anyone’s suffering relieved? No, but those who practice it get to feel a little better about themselves for a while.
There’s nothing wrong with feeling good, of course, just like there’s nothing wrong with masturbation. It’s when feeling good about yourself is wrapped up in a disguise of practising a virtue, even when you’ll go to the extent of hurting others in order to achieve that good feeling, that it’s a problem.
Seeing the book like this actually puts the title in a whole new light, too— changing its meaning from “do androids, like humans, have the capacity to empathise with animal versions of themselves?” to “do androids, like humans, have the capacity to desire the appearance of being principled so much that they will violate those same principles in order to have it?” The question becomes then, not whether androids are humanlike because they have empathy, but whether androids are humanlike because they can connive and doublecross, because they are shrewd enough to realise that social status isn’t about what you do, it’s about what you appear to do.
To the vast majority of people, it doesn’t matter if you are empathic. What matters is if you can play the part. Display the sheep. Keep up appearances.
How many times have you heard mental illness associated with danger in the media, despite the fact that mentally ill people are more likely to be victims of crimes than to commit them? How many times have you heard reports about serial killers where their neighbours expressed surprise that “such a nice young man” could do that sort of thing?
How many times have you felt shamed for not kneejerk-reblogging a popular petition— and how many times have you been encouraged to actually examine whether the campaign is useful, relevant, or is in fact doing more harm than good? How many times have you seen people shame someone aggressively for not falling in with a particular social justice party line— and in the next breath expound on how it’s important to use trigger warnings, without any mention of the fact that, for example, being aggressively called out can be very triggering for abuse survivors and depressed people? How many times have you seen people defend their ideological points over the real needs of actual people?
How many electric sheep do you have on your roof? And now that I’ve said that, how long do you think it’ll be before pointing out other people’s “electric sheep” (while, of course, never regarding your own) is used as just one more form of social currency?
Here’s a link to download a free PDF version of the Scribbles sketchbook I did in 2010. I felt the book had run its course long ago, and it couldn’t hurt to put this out there for anyone interested. It’s a big, 300dpi/150MB download so it hopefully won’t look awful on new devices.