The Templar attract the sense of panic (and resignation) about the machine; the Omar a fear (and euphoria) that it is too late, and that any dalliance with the digital subsumes anything human. The Illuminati open toward a paranoia about what might be behind gamespace, a mysterious conspiracy, and perhaps a critical theory — of the military entertainment complex. Jodi Dean: “Conspiracy theory is about interpretation and analysis. Through its links and associations, conspiracy theory codes critical reflections… as a particularized set of threats.” The fourth term points towards a digital delirium, a negated realm of possibilities — an ‘extopian’ possibility, in which gamer and game cease to exist as separate terms, and there is a complete elimination of the limits of any topos. The ‘extopian’ dwells neither here nor there, but at once and at one with the world. The possible endings of Deus Ex map out the topos of the military entertainment complex. It is a synthesis of the two competing storylines that try to account for everyday life from within The Cave™, or what some call the ‘posthuman condition’. Katharine Hayles: “The prospect of becoming posthuman evokes terror and excites pleasure.”
The four endings of Deus Ex play out all of these possibilities. The agonistic forces of the Templars and the Omar open toward what they are not, but in place of what they are not, the game posits another pair of antagonistic terms — Illuminati and ApostleCorp. This second pair stage the agonistic storylines of the paranoid complex and a schizoid complexity. For the Templars, separation is key, and yet to fight in this posthuman grid, they require technics, armor for example, which implicates them in various forms of non-separation from the very thing their being is founded on separation from. For the Omar, the problem is the reverse. Theirs is a being not defined by an assumption of an always-already separate being, a gamer before the game which might have anxiety about its boundaries, about tripping into the nonhuman. They are always already not human. Yet they have to find ways to communicate with what is human, with what is separate, in order to draw it into the game. At either end of this agon, of complete merger or complete separation, the problem looks like one of another difference — non-separation, non-merger. But this other difference is now internal to the game. Gamespace has colonized what it is not, and erected in its place a new agon. It subordinates the analog to the digital.
Here are the rules of the game: Start with an agon of Templar vs. Omar. Find the values masked by these proper names (separate vs. merged). Discover the hidden exclusion masked by these terms (not-separate vs. not-merged). Detect the positive terms which cover the absence of these purely negations (Illuminati vs. ApostleCorp). Now for the next level: Does gamespace stop there? Or is it not always a double masking, of the value masked by the character; and of the indeterminate negativity masked by an agon of positive terms? After unmasking the Illuminati as a mere cover for non-separation, what next? Do these masks cover and cover to infinity? Here another dimension reveals itself. Are these masks of characters for values, and of values for negations not the protocols to a total game? Starting from the Templars, these are the questions one might pose in the act of gameplay, which might work out the terms of the conspiracy by which the complex hides itself, but not so completely that a paranoid sensibility might not puzzle it out.
Start instead from the Omar. What is behind them? The value of a complete merger of gamer and game. But what might a non-merger be? Could this relation of not only gamer to game, but of gamers to games, be otherwise? Could a more intimate relation of gamer to game yet be the condition of possibility for the autonomous self-creation of something beyond the gamer? And of something beyond the game? Starting from the Omar, this is the territory in which you might find yourself. This is the terrain of a schizoid blurring of the boundaries of flesh and machine, opening not toward a complex of control but a complexity beyond all centralizing forms of power. Rather than the digital boundary, separating gamer from game; here it is an analog relation, a variable relation of gamer into game.
Deus Ex opens the problem of the other behind the agon of positive terms — and closes it again. But in this closing, it provides the place for a gamer theory to start a new kind of game. Or rather, it provides two places, and the possibility of two kinds of gamer theory. The first could be called critical, or perhaps just paranoid. From the Templar’s agon with the Omar, we ignore the Omar for a moment and think instead of the Templar’s relation to the Illuminati, which stands revealed as a positive term masking the point of a negation, that of the not-separate. This revelation of a pure negative, where it is not given what the other term is, opens toward a paranoid sensibility, which is where the possibility of a critical thought beyond the game might lie. Sigmund Freud: “The delusions of paranoiacs have an unpalatable external similarity and internal kinship to the systems of philosophers.” The paranoia of the not-separate is in not knowing what you are not-separate from. Paranoid thought always seeks out the powers that hide in the shadows of the not-separate.