Thursday, September 6, 2012

The LOST Dilemma (aka, what I'd pay for adventure)

I've been re-watching LOST with a newbie friend who has no idea what's coming, and the experience to date has been delightful. We're eight episodes into Season 2, and Shannon recently died. This prompted my friend to again address the fact that, were he ever unfortunate enough to survive a plane crash, the first thing he'd do would be to find a sizable cliff and jump off it. "Especially if I was on that island," he always adds. "Kill me on impact, please. I don't want to deal with any of that shit."

My reaction to his sentiment is one of aghast befuddlement. As it turns out, I'm willing to do almost anything to experience a situation more fantastic than what everyday reality typically allots for. I love Disneyland for its ability to make me feel - however fleetingly - that I'm immersed in a fantasy so compelling it's akin to living inside a film or a novel. No matter how realistic Disney's environs, though, I know that what I'm seeing isn't real, and that no matter how fast the wind blows in my face on Space Mountain, I'm in no real danger. 

And I think actual peril is key to a truly immersive narrative experience. When I try and imagine the Blue-Sky future of interactive narratives, my thoughts hit a ceiling when considering just how realistic any simulated scenario can get when true human danger is out of the question. Because don't all exciting stories hinge on shootouts, explosions, booby traps, poisonings, car chases, horse chases, plane crashes, smoke monsters, and hit men? No matter how convincing any of it might eventually seem, it's still not going to cross the danger threshold into full-fledged reality. And a full-fledged realistic adventure is what I'm after. Which is why I'm so jealous of the characters on LOST.

I'll conclude with this: if any future simulated adventure requires I sign an agreement relinquishing anyone of responsibility for my possible death, you're damn right I'm signing that dotted line. I think.

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