It’s been a while since I have played console games. For several years now my wife and I played Star Wars: The Old Republic on our PC and loved it, until the new Star Wars movie pretty much ruined my love of that George Lucas creation. So I was looking for options and finally picked up a PS4 for all the obvious reasons, and the unit I bought happened to be a Black Ops III bundle specific for the popular Call of Duty video game series. I know Call of Duty is a very popular title, but I haven’t played it before primarily because I thought it would be too “military” based, which I hate. I can’t stand the mission dialogue about sacrifice and duty trumping personal honor and all that crap—so the title to the popular console game turned me off. However, since Star Wars is now off-limits I’m willing to try a few other things, so I thought I’d give it a try to could quickly see why it’s so popular.
These video games continue to impress me with their immersive science fiction stories that are quite sophisticated. Going all the way back to the first person shooter Half Life, things have come a long way to this latest Call of Duty offering. But what continues to impress me is the exploration of science within these games and the possibilities of what life will offer us over the next one hundred years. I was surprised to find that the story was set in 2065 and it involved several elements of advanced robotics and nano technology. It also weaved a fairly sophisticated political plot within a story suitable for a House of Cards episode.
My life is unique in that I do things in the real world that are considered, “important.” I have hobbies that are very, “physical.” Yet I enjoy quite a lot to step behind a technological veil and explore worlds bridging the best of modern science fiction, science and art and mixing them all with contemporary politics and a Millennial skepticism of authority—and viewing the world from that vantage point. Not many people my age successfully go back and forth like that. They evolved in their thirties to playing golf by their forties. It is difficult play a round with important people on a Friday afternoon, then go home and play some Black Ops on PlayStation for the evening. I can do it, but not many can. I find that the ability to enjoy all aspects of modern life to be more valuable than just specializing in one particular thing during sectional moments of a lifetime. I value the childlike playfulness of harboring many interests and not regulating those passions due to a social context. Given that, I find the stories of modern video games to be very important mythologically into preparing our society for the massive changes that are about to occur over the next two decades.
For many years I have played video games and we’ve had just about every system since the Atari 7800 back in the 80s. I raised my kids on video games and I have played them a lot. Over the last few years, I’ve been very busy and I haven’t kept up with the big technological breakthroughs largely because I wanted to see where everything was going. 4k televisions and these incredible sound developments from Bose were poised to change the home entertainment industry a few years back, so I sat on the fence to sort of watch things before making big investments. A few of our family members have personal home theaters with projection televisions, which I thought were fantastic, but I was skeptical that they’d hold out to the strong resolution that gaming systems, and streaming services like Netflix were offering, so we held on and didn’t get a PS3 or an Xbox One. My big problem with the Xbox One was the emphasis on online content and downloadable offerings. I like to own things and if you lose your hard drive—which happens, then you lose your downloads. And I’m not a big fan of cloud storage systems, because they don’t exist within my control. So it was a bit of a treat to play a PlayStation 4 for the first time. It’s probably been three or four years since I last touched a PlayStation controller—so it was nice to turn it on again and see the throbbing lights which are new on the PS4 as it came to life.
In that regard, the story of Call of Duty Black Ops III pulled me in instantly and I found it to be a great adventure. The robotics and the ability to simulate reality I found most compelling. I really don’t think we are that far away from a day when we can download ourselves into new bodies or machines—whichever we see fit and that we as a human species will exist not as biological entities, but as an essence. In that way I found the story of Black Ops III to be extremely compelling. As I played it I couldn’t help but think of how these video game stories are changing the way that Millennials see the world. As of this writing, we are on the cusp of commercial space travel and nano technology as things are changing very quickly. It’s easy for me to see just in watching the evolution of PlayStation from the PS2 which I played like crazy during the first decade of the new century to the PS4. The creative use of lights on the console and controller along with the evolution of storage leads the mind to easily see a day where the stories in these video games will actually manifest into a reality—whether its alien life as seen in Half Life, or the future tech of warfare in Call of Duty Black Ops III, the options to us are going to be quite extraordinary.
The best science fiction of our age isn’t coming from books, or movies—it is coming from video games. I know a lot of young people buy Call of Duty for the online multiplayer content, but seriously, the campaigns on those games is very interesting. The science is “compelling.” It’s one thing to read these kinds of things in science fiction novels, but it’s quite another to interact with high science concepts in a 3D environment. In the case of Call of Duty, I’m glad that I have been mad at Star Wars, because I gave Black Ops III a chance I might have otherwise not had given it. While it would be fun to take a few weeks of my life and just sit around playing video games–it’s not very practical for me. I have to manage my time very carefully to fit everything in, and that kind of luxury is hard to find. So I appreciate a good gaming experience when I can get it and Black Ops III was certainly that. The science alone does it—the empowerment of interacting with objects within a virtual environment ahead of actual scientific invention is a marvelous attribute—and a necessary step toward the fulfillment of the next leap in mankind’s long evolution.
Rich “Cliffhanger” Hoffman
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