201.Youarrivehomefromworkoneevening,onlytodiscoveryourbiosphereisdead.Whatawaytostarttheweek!Onlookingbackthroughthereco
rds,thereasonisnothardtodiscover.Aclassicgreenhouse-effectproblem.Nexttime,winddownthefossilfuelsalittlemoresoyourglobed
oesn'tcookitselftodeathwhileyou'reout.Fortunatelythebiosphereinquestionisonlyagame,orsomethinglikeagame.Youhavethisprogr
amrunningonyourhomecomputercalledSimEarth,whichletsyoumodelallkindsofbiosphereconditionsoveranumber
ofdifferenttimeframes
:geological,biologicalandsociological.Theoneyouthinkyou'regettingalittleobsessedwithisamodelofpla
netEarthfrom1990onwards
.Sothisweekyoudecidethatyouwillsetupthismodeleverymorning,selectingtypesandquantitiesofenergyuse
andexpenditure.Youwillco
mehomeeveryeveningandseeifyourworldisstillrunning.Sometimesitis,sometimesitisn't.202.There'ssome
thingalittleeerieaboutha
vingafunctioningbiosphereinyourhome;somethingrathermoredisturbingaboutfindingthethinghasgonebel
lyupwhileyouwereoutatwork
.SimEarthletsyouchoosefromanumberofenergysources,includingbiomass,hydro-electric,solar,nuclearo
rfossilfuelled.Italsolets
youprogramarangeofenergyuses,includingscience,agriculture,medicine,andthearts.Eachoftheseha
sdifferenteffects.Ifyouexpend
energyonagriculture,populationincreasesrathermorerapidly.Ifyoudevotemoreresourcestoscience,
technologicalchangeaccelerate
s.Someoftheassumptionshereareofcoursecrude,butnotunreasonable.Naturally,ahomebiospherehasto
runarelativelysimplealgorithm
comparedtotheheavydutymodel.203.Thecuriousthingaboutitishowfiddlingaroundwiththesecrudevari
ablesgivesyouafeelforthegloba
limpactoffundamentalchoicesaboutwhateconomistscallresourceallocation.Forinstance,youstartitu
ponemidweekmorningwithsettin
gswhichdevotealotofresourcestoagriculture.Thisseemsareasonableapproachtocreatingaminimalistatopia.TheodorAdorno:"Thereis
tendernessonlyinthecoarsestdemand:thatno-oneshouldgohungryanym
ore.Everyotherseekstoapplytoaconditionthatoughttobedetermi
nedbyhumanneeds,amodeofconductadaptedtoproductionasanendini
tself."Andyetitdoesn'tquiteworkout.Whenyoucomehomefromworkyou
findthepopulationshotthroughtheroof.Thatonewaspredictable.
Whatyouhadn'tcountedon,though,wasthatincreasingagriculturepump
edoutmoregreenhousegasses.Thetemperaturewaseverso
slowlyrising,threateningtotoasteverything,unevenlybutverycrisplybrown.A
ndallbecauseofthattroublingphrase,'humanne
eds'…204.Likeanypatientconfrontedwithaterminaldiagnosis,youwantedasecondopinio
n.SoyousetSimEarthrunningathomebef
oredrivingofftowork,whereyoustealalittletimetofireupyourbrowserandgowebsurfing.Theurge
ntproblemistofindoutwhyincreas
ingtheamountoffoodbeinggrownhasthislethaleffect.Theprognosisisnotgood.Itseemsthatmethaneis
oneofthegassesthatcausesgloba
lwarming.Abittoomuchmethaneintheairandheatgetstrappedintheatmosphere.Bydialingupmoreagricul
ture,youalsouppedtheamountofm
ethanegoingintotheatmosphere.Ricepaddies,forinstance,areoneofthesourcesofmethane.Itseemstha
tdeepinthemuckatthebottomofri
cepaddiesarelittlebacteriathatproducemethaneasabyproduct.Great!Thereyouwere,onlythismorning
tryingtoseetoitthatallthepe
opleonyourbiospherearegetenoughtoeat,andbythetimeyoucomehomefordinneryou'recookingthebiospher
e.205.Thisisallabittoomuch
,butfortunatelythenextdayistheendoftheworkingweekandyouaregoingouttodinnerafterwardswithfriend
s.Youimaginethismighttakey
ourmindofSimEarth,butallthatfoodonthetablemakesyoulooseyourappetite.Thatbigsilverydishwithallt
hatriceinitsmellslikeove
r-cookedbiosphere.Thebeef,deliciousthoughittastes,onlymakesthingsworse.Itseemsthatoneoftheothers
ourcesofmethaneinthewor
ldis,ofallthings,cowfarts.Yes,cowfarts.Itneveroccurredtoyouthattherewastheslightestglobalsignific
anceinthefactthatcowsa
reabitgassy.Theproblemis,theyfart(andbelch)methane.Well,notthecowsexactly,butthebacteriaintheirsto
machsthatbrea
kdownallthatgrass.Thosebacteria,liketheirteeminglittleprokaryoterelativesinthericepaddies,alsomakemethane.2
06.Theweekendc
omes,sonowyoucanreallyspendsometimeonthisbiospherebusiness.Whenyouprogrammedyourlittlebiospherewithlotsoff
oodproduction
sothatnobodywouldgohungry,youalsoselectedahigherrateofmethaneoutput.Itjustgoestoshowhowyouhavetothinkabouta
llofthecon
sequencesofanythingyoudo.Thatnobodyshouldgohungryisaworthygoal,but,allthingsbeingequal,itmeansmorepeople,andmo
repeopleme
ansmorelandundercultivation,andthatmeansmoremethane,andthatisabitofaproblem.SothenexttimeyousetupSimEarthyoudo
thingsabitdiffe
rently.Ratherthanconcentrateonexpandingfoodproductionintheshortterm,whynotputmoreresourcesintoscienceandt
echnologyinste
ad?Thisisabitofagamble,youthinktoyourselfasyoudriveofftothemallinyourhightechhybridcar,thekindAlGorerecomm
ends.Whatifsci
encedidn'tcomeupwiththeanswersintime?Whatifburningupfossilfuelsatarateofknotsdidn'tkickprogressalongfasten
ough?Whatifpeo
plegohungry?Whatthehellisprogressanyway?207.Bythetimeyoureturnhome,SimEarthhadrevertedtowhatitcalls,withac
ertaindrollery,
'geologicaltime'.Thereisnothingleftalive,soyourplanetisjusttickingover,waitingquartzeonsforlifetomysterio
uslysparkagain
.Whathappened?Checkthecharts.Letssee:pollutionup,oxygenlevelsdown,carbondioxideup,temperaturesskyhigh.Itse
emsthetechno-g
ambledidn'tquiteworkout.Crankingupthewholeglobaleconomytothemax,pumpingoutandburningupeverysourceofenergya
sfastaspossibl
ecertainlydidincreasethepaceoftechnologicalchange,butinthisscenario,itincreasedtherateofglobalclimatechang
eevenfaster.208
.Theproblemwasn'tthemethanethistime.Bykeepingpopulationandfoodproductiongrowingabitmoreslowlyitseemsyouke
ptyourlittlegr
eenearthfromspinningoutintothatfate.Theproblemthistimewasthecarbondioxide.Thereitisonthegraph-shootingupat
adevilishlysh
arptack,takingtemperaturesupwithit.Burningfossilfuels-oilandcoal-producescarbondioxide,amongotherthings,and
whenyouincrea
setheamountofcarbondioxideintheatmosphere,youturnthetoasteronagain.Likemethane,ittrapstheheatfromsunlight.T
hereallysadpa
rtisthatallthewayhomeinthecarfromyourtriptothemall,loadedupwithorganicvegetables,biodegradabletoiletpaperan
dthenewslim-
linemodelPlaystation,youhadbeenreallyeagertoseeifyourlittlegamblehadpaidoff.209.Youhadnotquiteabsorbedtheide
athatdriving
ispartoftheproblem.Marxshowedhoweachactofconcrete,specific,particularlaborismadeequivalent,bythewagerelation
,toeveryother
.Concretelaborisalsoabstractlabor.Ingamespace,everyconcrete,specificactionofanykindisalsoanabstractaction,t
heconsumingofa
givenresourceforagivenresult.Andyetgamespacedoesnotencompassandaccountforeveryaction.Onlythoseinputsthatta
ketheformofana
gonbetweencompetingforcesinthemarketcanbecalculated.Butbehindtheagonliesahostofcontraryterms,shadingoffint
otheimperce
ptible,thatcomebacktotauntgamespacewiththeircumulativeeffect.WhatsetsSimEarthapartisthattheunintendedconseque
ncesofagon,a
lltheexcludedandcontraryoutputs,receivedatleastanapproximateaccounting.210.Youhadalwaysthoughtthatiftheecono
myintherealworl
dcrankedalongatmaximumefficiency,thentechnologywouldalsobobblealongataratesufficienttodealwiththelittlepr
oblemsthatmight
occuralongtheway.KarlMarx:"Mankindthusinevitablysetsitselfonlysuchtasksasitisabletosolve,sincecloserexami
nationwillalway
sshowthattheproblemitselfarisesonlywhenthematerialconditionsforitssolutionarealreadypresentoratleastinthe
courseofformat
ion."Well,maybe.WhattheSimEarthallegorithmpointstoisthatlikemostpeople,youhadalwaystakenthisonfaith.Whatha
ppensifthelitt
leproblemsaren'tjustaccidentalbyproducts—alittleoilspillthere,atoxicwastedisasterthere—whatifthemilitaryen
tertainmentcom
plexitselfwasmuckinguptheglobalconditionsofitsownsuccess?GamespaceisjustlikeyourPlaystation.Itappearstoits
elfasarigorousg
ame,witheveryactionaccountedfor,andyetitreliesonahugepowercordpokingoutthebackthatsucksinenergyfromanelse
whereforwhichit
makesnoallowance.Thatthegameisnotreallyruledofffromtheworld,thatitreliesonanexternalsourceofpower,didnotr
eallyoccurtoyou
untilyouplayedyournewPlaystationforhoursandhoursonendanditoverheated.Tantalum,liketherestofplanetearth,is
onlygoodwithsom
uchheat.ThereissomethingoutsideTheCave(tm)afterall.Gameover.211.Alright,somaybethirdtimelucky.Letseaseupo
ntheagricultura
loutputandtheuseoffossilfuels.Here'sanidea:let'sgonuclear!Maybethisisthewaytohavethebestofbothworlds,soto
speak.Lotsofene
rgytokeepindustryandtechnologycooking,butwithoutturningonthebigheatofthegreenhousetoaster-oven.Runitovern
ightandtestyour
nucleargambit.Sundaymorningcomes.Well,thistimethereisgoodnewsandbadnews.Thegoodnews:yourbiospheredidn'tco
okthistime.Youh
adwellandtrulysolvedthegreenhouseproblem—permanently.Thebadnews:Ratherthanoverheatit,youaccidentallyshove
ditintothedeepf
reeze.Itscalled'nuclearwinter'—anditresultsfromlettingoffafewtoomanythermonucleardevices.Thedustcloudfrom
thatkeepsthesun
lightoutaltogether.212.Byclickingonthenuclearoption,yougaveyourlittleSimEarthlingsnotonlyagreatsourceofpo
wer,butadangerou
sweapon.Itwasnotasifyouhadtakenawaythesourcesofpotentialconflict,however.Conditionswerenotexactlyripe,it
seemsforglobalco
nsciousness.A.A.Bogdanov:"Thestrugglebetweenclasses,groups,andindividualsprecludesboththeideaofthewholea
ndthehappinessandsufferingimpliedbythenotion
."Theyjuststartedblastingawayateachother.Perhapstheydidn'tinventgametheory,a
ndfigureoutthatdeterrenceonlyworksifnobodyshoots.Andperhapsthat'syourfault-youreducedinputsforscienc
eandculture.Theradio
activepatchesonth
esurfaceofthisdigitalearthburnthroughafeweons-worthofthesubsequent'geological'phase.Youcanseelittlenuke
signs,carvedonthebrownstumpo
faformerlygreenplanet,likevandal-carvedgraffitiontreesthatannouncestonobodyinparticular:wewe
rehere.Howdidthishappen?W
hilethenowquitevisiblehandofagonwithingamespacemetesoutresourcesaccordingtoitslaw;aninvisiblefo
ot,composedofallthatshad
esawayintomerecontraries,qualitieswithoutquantities,kicksittopieces.Youlooseagain.KimStanleyRobi
nson:"Itwasfrighteni
ng-asifhistorywereaseriesofhumanwaveassaultsonmisery,failingtimeaftertime."213.It'snotmuchofagame,Si
mEarth.Perhapsthat'sw
hyaftersevendaysofuncreation,youbecameboredwithit.Thenuninstalledit.Thenfinallygotaroundtosellingit
onEbay.PerhapsIbo
ughtyouroldcopy.Iplayeditforawhile,onanobsoletecomputer.Itcangetalittleobsessive.SimEarthgamerstellamaz
ingstories:About
thetimethelidblewoffthebiosphere,butuproseastrainofintelligentrobots.Orthetimeittickedoverformonths,popu
latedwithamillio
nsentientcetaceans,allusingnanotechnologytoruntheirwateryutopia.Butthere'ssomethingdisturbingaboutit.Per
hapsthat'swhythe
reisnosequel,noupdates.Itisasextinctanexampleofgameevolutionasthepoorsim-critterswhopopulateitssun-blast
edendgames.SimE
arthisextinct,agamewithoutsequels,buttwooffshootsfromthesameevolutionaryphylaofgamedesignlivedon.OneisThe
Sims.Perhapsit
wasbetteradaptedtosurviveingamespace,becauseitdidnotgivethegameaway.ThedeathofaSimisnottheendoftheworld.An
otherdescendan
tlinetriestheothertack.InWillWright'smuchadmiredSpore,survivalisnotlimitedtoonebiosphere.OlafStapeldon:"It
mustnotbesupp
osedthatthenormalfateofintelligentracesinthegalaxyistotriumph."AtleastinSporethere'smorethanonehometotrash.
214.Formsofg
ameevolveinaquasi-Darwinianmanner,notunlikeformsoforganism.Gamedesignersbreednewformsoutofexistingforms,andt
hemilitaryen
tertainmentcomplexthrowstheresultingvariationsonawaitingmarket,wheretheycompetetosaveyoufromboredom.Veryfewf
ormssucceed
.It'salmostDarwinian:Thedesignerproposes;gamespacedisposes.FrancoMoretti:"InDarwin,inotherwords,historyisthei
nterweavin
goftwowhollyindependentpaths:randomvariationandnecessaryselection.Inourcase,[formal]innovations,whicharetheres
ultofchanc
e;andasocialselection,whichbycontrastisthedaughterofnecessity."Throughasubtleinversionofthelogicofnaturalselec
tion,games
paceclaimstobethefullimplementationofadigitalDarwinism.Hereforoneandalltheruleissurvivalofthefittest.Onlywhata
ctuallyhap
pensisquitethereverse:thedemiseoftheunfit.Survivalhasnopositivevalue.Gamespaceisapurenihilism.Thebestonecanhop
eforismere
lybeingundefeated.Hencetheunsatisfyingqualityof'winning'inSimEarth.Intheunlikelyeventthatthegamerattlesontowar
dthedeatho
fthesun,thisvictoryamountstonothing.ThisisperhapswhySimEarthdidnotsurvive.Thereissomethingratherundesirableint
hisgameofcr
uelty.Butthereisadifferencebetweennaturalselectionand'cultural'selection.An'unfit'gamelikeSimEarthfailsnotbec
auseitbumpsupagains
ttherealityprincipleofbarelife,butquitethereverse.Itfailsthefantasyprinciple.215.Giventhatyoucan'trea
llywin,SimEarthisha
rdlyagameatall.ThebestconclusionformostscenariosisthatyourSimEarthlingsleavetheplanetinafleetofspaces
hips.SimEart
hlacksoneoftheusualcriteriaforagame-whatwemightcallasatisfying'wincondition',whichterminatesitsalgorithm.But
thenperhap
sthat'stheallegory.SimEarthmapsthelimittogamespace.Whatgamespaceusuallyexcludes-theresiduesthatpileupoutofsigh
toutofmi
nd-arehereincluded,andtheyarethesourceoftheproblem.Thechoiceswithinthegame-betweenagricultureandscience,forexamp
le,appe
araschoicesbetweenpositiveterms.Theytakenoaccountoftheircontraries,whichappearwithoutnames.SimEarth'sstrategyisto
inclu
deeverytermwithinitsagon.Therearenocontraries,oralmostnone.Itpositsthewholeplanetasgamespace.Eventhepowersourceofth
esun
isincluded.Onlyablankinterstellaroftheangelsspaceremainsasitscontrary.216.Theinclusionofalmosteverythingwithinthegam
ele
aveslittlebywayofatoposinwhichtoconquer,expand,colonize,transform,oreventoposeastheremotetimeorplaceasthealibiforutop
ian
texts.SureyoucouldterraformMars,buttheresultseemsaforegoneconclusion.Thereisnofrontieralongwhichastorylinemighttraffi
ct
heunknownintotherealmoftheknown.Acertainkindofhistoryendshere.SaystheStalinist-SurrealistpoetPaulEluard:"Thereisanothe
r
world,anditisthisone."SimEarthclosesthebookonthatutopianrealm,andthestruggleforandagainstit.Gamespacehasconsumedtheworl
d,
butthecatastropheoftheworld'sconsummationcomesbacktotauntit,undoingitfromwithin.E.M.Cioran:"Thereisnootherworld.Noreve
n
thisone."Oncealltermsareincludedwithintheagonofgamespace,thewholeoflifebecomesagamethatcanbelost,forever.217.SimEarthis
by
genrea'Godgame'.SomeGod!Againandagain,youfailyourcreation.SimEarthisnotsomuchaboutthedeathofGodasGod'ssuicide.Ittakesa
waytheempoweringthoughtofbeingresponsibleforHisdisposal.Suicideiseitherfastandviolent,inwhichGodthrowshimselfintotheflam
es
ofglobalwarming.Orvery,veryslow;hooked,likeahelplessjunkie,tothesun.Asunwhichfinallyovercomesyourabilitytomaintain.Mar
kA
merika:"Oblivionistheonlycureforagony."ThedelusionofGodgamesisthatthegamerisincontrolwhenatthecontroller.Butitisthegam
ewh
ichplaysthegamer.Itisyou,thegamer,whoisanavatar,inthesenseofbeingtheincarnationofanabstractprinciple.Thegamerisalesse
rdeit
yincarnate,answerabletoahigherpower-thegameitself.218.Whengamespacechoosesyouasitsavatar,whichcharacterdoesitselect
foryoutoplay?P
erhapsinSimEarththegameristheavataroftheAngelofHistory.WalterBenjamin:"Whereachainofeventsappearsbeforeus,
heseesonlyonesinglecatastrophe,whichkeepspilingwreckageuponwreckageandhurlsitathisfeet.Theangelwouldliketostay,awakenthe
dead,andmakewho
lewhathasbeensmashed.Butastormisblowingfromparadiseandhasgotcaughtinhiswings;itissostrongthattheangelcann
olongerclosethem."Or
perhapsyouareanavataroftheLucklessAngel,withratherdifferenthitpoints.HeinerMŸller:"Thepastsurgesbehi
ndhim,pouringrubbleonwing
sandshouldersthunderinglikeburieddrums,whileinfrontofhimthefuturecollects,crusheshiseyes,explod
inghiseyeballslike
astarwrenchingthewordintoaresoundinggag,stranglinghimwithitsbreath."Thissuitstheexperienceandthetimes
—ratherbetter.The
drollexperienceofbeingflungforwardintonothingnessbytheterminaltransformationofnature;anexperienceofhell
seentoolate.SimE
arthisanallegoryoftheendsofgamespace,whichdeclaresitsvictoryoverthegamer,andoveranyotherresidueofcontrar
iesou
tsideitsformofforms.Itpopstheblueeyeofthegamer'sworld.219.PerhapsyouareanavataroftheEgyptiandemigodTheuth,whoaccord
ingtoPlatowastheinventorofnotonlyofwriting,butalsoofnumberandcalculation,geometryandastronomy,gamesofchanceandgamesofski
l
l.InastorySocratestellsinPhadrus,Theuthoffersthesetothesun-godThamus,andsays:"whatIhavediscoveredis[recipes]ofmemoryand
w
isdom."Thamusconsidersthemonebyone.InSocrates'telling,itiswritingaboutwhichThamushasthemostqualms.Fortheproblemsofmemor
y
,recording,delineating,isthis'pharmakon'ofwritingaremedyorapoison?Writingsendstheword-logos-outintotheworldestrangedfro