The inclusion of almost everything within the game leaves little by way of a topos in which to conquer, expand, colonize, transform, or even to pose as the remote time or place as the alibi for utopian texts. Sure you could terraform Mars, but the result seems a foregone conclusion. There is no frontier along which a storyline might traffic the unknown into the realm of the known. A certain kind of history ends here. Says the Stalinist-Surrealist poet Paul Eluard: “There is another world, and it is this one.” SimEarth closes the book on that utopian realm, and the struggle for and against it. Gamespace has consumed the world, but the catastrophe of the world’s consummation comes back to taunt it, undoing it from within. E. M. Cioran: “There is no other world. Nor even this one.” Once all terms are included within the agon of gamespace, the whole of life becomes a game that can be lost, forever.
SimEarth is by genre a ‘God game’. Some God! Again and again, you fail your creation. SimEarth is not so much about the death of God as God’s suicide. It takes away the empowering thought of being responsible for His disposal. Suicide is either fast and violent, in which God throws himself into the flames of global warming. Or very, very slow; hooked, like a helpless junkie, to the sun. A sun which finally overcomes your ability to maintain. Mark Amerika: “Oblivion is the only cure for agony.” The delusion of God games is that the gamer is in control when at the controller. But it is the game which plays the gamer. Kline et al: “The construction of that willing delusion by which the players imagine they are controlling their own fantasy defines the magic of gaming.” It is you, the gamer, who is an avatar, in the sense of being the incarnation of an abstract principle. The gamer is a lesser deity, a fleshy expression, answerable to a higher power — the game itself.
When gamespace chooses you as its avatar, which character does it select for you to play? Perhaps in SimEarth the gamer is the avatar of the Angel of History. Walter Benjamin: “Where a chain of events appears before us, he sees only one single catastrophe, which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it at his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But a storm is blowing from paradise and has got caught in his wings; it is so strong that the angel can no longer close them.” Or perhaps you are an avatar of the Luckless Angel, with rather different hitpoints. Heiner Müller: “The past surges behind him, pouring rubble on wings and shoulders thundering like buried drums, while in front of him the future collects, crushes his eyes, exploding his eyeballs like a star wrenching the word into a resounding gag, strangling him with its breath.” This suits the experience — and the times — rather better. The droll experience of being flung forward into nothingness by the terminal transformation of nature; an experience of hell seen too late. SimEarth is an allegory of the ends of gamespace, which declares its victory over the gamer, and over any other residue of contraries outside its form of forms. It pops the blue eye of the gamer’s world.
Perhaps you are an avatar of the Egyptian demigod Theuth, who according to Plato, was the inventor not only of writing, but also of number and calculation, geometry and astronomy, games of chance and games of skill. In the story Socrates tells in Phadrus, Theuth offers these things to the sun-god Thamus, who considers them one by one. In Socrates’ telling, it is writing about which Thamus has the most qualms. For the problems of memory, recording, delineating, is this ‘pharmakon’ of writing a remedy or a poison? Writing sends the word — logos — out into the world estranged from the authority of the voice that authors it, erasing the line of its paternity, making of it an orphan. In this sense, it’s a father-killing poison, and it would make of the sun-god a marked man. But the sun-god only has to give the word and Theuth’s sneaky inventions are denounced. Behind writing lies speech, and behind speech, the pure light of the good. Jacques Derrida: “The good (father, sun, capital) is thus the hidden illuminating, blinding source of logos.” Or so it was, in the beginning.
Perhaps what Theuth had to offer was not remedies but recipes — algorithms, indifferent to their effect on human. Perhaps Theuth killed Thamus, and took His place. His recipes are, after all, for killing one’s father. This God was not killed by us, nor was it a suicide. It is a regicide, performed by something neither God nor human, but something inhuman, a posthuman techne. What if it were not writing, but all Theuth’s algorithms meshed together which were His power? The algorithms of writing, calculation, navigation and the game, at first separately, and then coming together, create a topology, a world no longer logocentric, but ludocentric. Behind appearances lies a new Helios, the artificial sun of the algorithm, able to name, locate, value, calculate and set in play anything and everything but the sun itself. If in Plato history moves in the difference between mythos and logos, it comes finally to rest between logos and ludus, between writing and the game, in a world where the originary power of speech is neither here nor there.