Had you asked the American public in 1959 whether mankind would land on the moon in a decade’s time, most would have likely said no. So when I hear that one of the biggest complaints that people have against Sword Art Online, which takes place in 2022, is that it is unrealistic, I want to slap them in the face. First because the message the show is trying to get across isn’t whether it is possible, but that people need to be wary of the consequences technology could have on society. More importantly, are people so jaded as to think that mankind can’t cross the digital barrier described in this show in ten years time.
To my first point – the themes of the series. Quite frankly, I don’t know what they are going to be. Only one episode has aired at this point, but even the first episode brought up many interesting talking points. Of most note to me, was the loss of anonymity when all the players true identities were revealed. This revelation certainly could happen in 2022, but who is to say that it couldn’t happen in 2012. Think what would happen if all of your secret email, twitter, and forum chat room accounts suddenly had your real name next to them. While I certainly would not enjoy having my entire online life available to the public, it certainly wouldn’t be the end of me. Could you all say the same?
Another interesting commentary I think the original author may have wanted to get across can be found in the forced completion of the game. In today’s collective ADHD society, many people don’t finish many of the games they buy. In fact, i recently read an article where less than 20% of people who bought the new Hitman game, actually finished it. But this lack of commitment isn’t just found in computer games. People start and quit things more now, than ever before, with dropout rates in school continuing to rise – to keep the example youth oriented.
Additionally, we forget that the internet is a relatively new phenomena. The surface has hardly been scratched. Recent research suggests that it is actually changing the chemistry of our brains. Hell, laptops could actually be giving us cancer in the best of places. To sum it up, the internet/technology could kill us, or could already be killing us. We don’t know, and we may not know until it is too late for most of us. Just ask those who died already in the show.
Finally, and this is the most abstract of all the ideas, but premiere made a concerted effort to show, after the credits, how many people had died in the first month of the game’s release (2,000 of the original 10,000 players). This shows that anyone could have entered this game, just as anyone can, and do, enter the discussions on any given topic on the internet today. As an example, a lot, and I mean a lot, of idiots in this world have political blogs. Are many of these morons qualified to give an intelligent opinion on the topic? No, not really. Yet they try, and most fail. This noise will continue to exist in the world, and it is one of the most annoying aspects of the internet (Hell, you may thing I am one of those morons). Whatever your opinions on this topic may be, it can’t be changed now, but we can always imagine.
I’ll be honest, this post kind of got away from me, so I’ll cover the second point of my introduction – the possibility of this type of technology coming to pass in Part Two.