It’s a strange Eden that is promised here — an atopia of indifference, absorbing the gamer even as the gamer struggles to power-up the self by targeting it. Perhaps Eden only appears to become conscious and commit suicide. Perhaps it’s a ruse to draw the gamer into risking the self. There is, of course, a backstory behind the backstory — its signs slip-sliding away from any closure. Eden is the product of ‘Project K’. Mizoguchi says the K stands for the artist Wassily Kandinsky, from whom he borrowed the synthetic synasthesia that is the defining characteristic of Rez. Kandinsky: “Color is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings.” Sound, luminance, color, movement and vibration all pulse together. Mizoguchi updates Kandinsky for topological times. The digital controller of the Playstation replaces mechanical one of the piano as the machine for drawing the self out of the body so that it might find itself in its struggle with something technical.
Plug in the Japanese edition with Trance Vibrator and Rez can be not only aural and visual but also a sexual machine, if the Vibrator is applied to the right spot. Jane Pinckard: “We sat side my side on our makeshift couch, I with the Trance Vibrator and Justin with the controller. As the levels got more advanced, so did the vibrations… revving up to an intense pulsing throbbing… ‘Oh, God!’ Pretty soon the levels and the images onscreen were just a faint blur to me. I knocked off my glasses and leaned back. I was in a daze. From far away, it seemed, I could hear Justin saying things like, ‘I made it to the next level!’ and ‘This is cool!’ but I was lost in my own little trance vibrating world.” To each their own target.
“Open your senses” is the game’s demand. The desire for an enhanced and empowered self that comes to know itself by targeting an other is the very thing recruited into the game to produce the opposite — a synasthesia in which self dissolves into the needs of the network. The repetition of the act of targeting repeats the production of the gamer as fleetingly distinct and enhanced, but permanently engaged and subsumed in the network. The gamer is the new model of the self. The gamer is not subject to the law; the gamer is a function of an algorithm. The moral code of the storyline is just an alibi for the computer code of the game.
What kind of being is a gamer? One who comes into existence through the act of targeting. To target is to isolate something against the dense, tense fibers of the network, maybe to destroy it, but always to assign it a unique value. Weber again: “… precisely the insistence that ‘opportunity’ be treated strictly as a ‘target’ that can be seized or missed itself misses the mark, because the mark involved is never simply present but always involved in other marks and other opportunities.” Targeting is a — temporary — solution to the problem of alterity. But it has its limits. It works to perfection in the game, but not in gamespace. James Der Derian: “… the temptation grows to use coercive interventions or technical fixes to seemingly intractable problems of alterity, like immigration, ethnic cleansing, and fundamentalist politics…. Questions of violence are always already problems of identity.” But this is precisely the value of games — they are allegorithms of what gamespace is not. The allegorithm of the game points to the ruins of a topology that is always supposed to arrive from the future but never comes. In Rez, the future perfection of topology even threatens to commit suicide rather than come to meet us.
Over and over, the gamer oscillates between connection and break with the character; over and over, the character oscillates between connection and break with its target. The whole pulses and jives to this tempo of making, breaking and remaking alterity, the bounds of one and zero, presence and absence. It is as if the whole world were a Sadean playpen, an episode from his Justine or Juliette, where no storyline can pose as the quest for the unique (truth, beauty, justice) but is merely the framing device for an oscillation of identity, between phallus and orifice, targeter and target. Welcome to The Cave™, pure other of gamespace, oscillating in and out of contact with it as its target. Roland Barthes: “It does not reveal, does not transform, does not develop, does not educate, does not sublimate, does not accomplish, recuperates nothing, save for the present itself, cut up, glistening, repeated…”. The game hovers on the lip of boredom, able to defeat time, but not to abolish nothingness.