Trust Issues

Curiosity what's inside the cube?

As you know, and indeed are still reeling from the excitement of, I released v r 2 earlier in the week. As I’ve written about in the last couple of weeks, I think of it as a game about the “reality” of invisible virtual objects. However, a definite thread in others’ interpretations of the game has been whether or not the objects I claim (on the informational placards) are in cubes are really in the cubes. (See, for example, this piece by David Rudin on Kill Screen.)

This is weird for me, because I never once considered the idea of making this game without genuinely positioning all the objects (3D model of a horse, webcam feed, etc.) into the cubes for the player to (not) encounter. (And in fact if you followed some of my tweets and posts you would even have seen me running my tests to make sure I could do it.) I even went so far as to have the entire second building full of empty cubes partly as a way of emphasising that the first set of cubes are not empty

… but of course someone trying to fool you into believing the first set of cubes have things in them would do something like that. They would probably even write a blog post pleading innocence and claim there are definitely things in the first set of cubes.

Which leaves me in a bit of a weird and interesting quandary. There’s nothing much I can do to prove the first set of objects contain things, because the point is that you can’t see them. Even if I released the project source and you could check that the things are in there, perhaps I could have actually compiled the game I released such that they were. Etc. etc. Maybe if somebody decompiles the released version they’ll be able to see it’s all really there? I don’t know.

The only problem is that the “social engineering” reading of this kind of short-circuits the thinking I actually wanted the player to engage in – I was specifically wanting players to contemplate the question of whether the objects inside the cubes remained “real” in some sense, whether they could be considered to be “really there” in a videogame if the player never sees, interacts with, or is affected by them. That’s the other big reason for the empty cubes, too – there’s a sense in which that building is identical to the first: it looks the same, feels the same, etc. But it isn’t the same because the cubes are empty.

So anyway: metaphysics and stuff.

Most importantly: you can trust me. You can trust meREALLY.

Trust me.

Please trust me.

11 June 2016
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