BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP! — BEEP!
What was that? Oh, it’s the alarm. I was up late last night and forgot to turn it off! Suddenly NPR News crackles through the tiny speakers of my Rolling Alarm Clock with news anchors, Bob and Robin informing me that Gingrich is on the attack. He’s accusing Romney of “carpet-bombing” his record, while Mitt’s going after Obama’s record. Then I get the shocking news straight from the IMF, “the whole global economy is hanging in a balance… if Europe’s problems get any worse, it could push the entire world back into a recession.” This is especially troubling to me, because I’m planning to graduate next spring. What will the job market look like? Will I have to crawl back to Vulcan Video for my old job? Maybe I should have majored in something more practical like computer science. My parents have made it clear to me that they’re tired of supporting me. They even gave me a deadline to move out of their basement. Oh well, I’m taking it one day at a time. Just as I’m preparing to brush my teeth, Bob comes back with some uplifting news. “Google is really not evil!” Huh? All that hype about them making money at the expense of our privacy is false. The fact is, Google needs our data, to create, “beautiful, simple, and intuitive user experiences.” And besides, I rely on Google Groups to stay connected with my MMORPGs. Shit! I knew they weren’t part of Bush’s, “Axis of Evil!”
Okay, enough of this touchy, feely stuff. It’s Saturday, and today I get to take my rad Avatar Machine out for a spin. The packaging describes it as a wearable system that replicates the aesthetics and visuals of third person gaming. Marc Owens created it. I recently got it on eBay from a guy who purchased it without his wife’s permission. Facing a divorce, he was forced to sell it. The Avatar Machine comes with a full set of limbs, engineered to fit your body. It has a headset with an embedded monitor. There’s a black harness that fits over my shoulders with a tripod and video camera mounted to it. A tag attached to it reads, “Warning: The system potentially allows for diminished sense of social responsibility, and could lead the user to demonstrate behaviors normally reserved for the gaming environment.” Now if that isn’t a selling point what is? I follow all the instructions, put on the parts, and take a peek in the mirror. I look like a WoW (World of Warcraft) character come to life. Simply put, I look badass! I’m ready to hit the streets.
I fire up the camera and like magic, I’m inside a virtual world. I’ve never had an out of body experience, but this must be what it feels like. I can see my body moving slightly ahead of me. A wide-angle lens makes it so that my eyes focal length is shorter but my cone of vision is wider. I lock the door with my huge claw like hands, then turn to walk down the stoop. I miscalculate the last step, causing me to stumble, and crash into a fence post. No worries, the suit is made of high-density foam for looks and protection. I brush it off and continue.
As I enter this strange new world, Gumba, my parent’s cat comes flying around the corner. Suddenly, she stops in mid-stride, gives me a blank stare, then takes off in the opposite direction. Clearly she’s perplexed. I raise my arms and just for grins, let out a deep growling sound. “YAARG!” I wonder what people are going to think? What will their reaction be? Victor and Joey Segura, a couple of neighborhood kids notice me first. They move towards me with curiosity and caution. I feel a heightened sense of strength. My body begins to take on a Warrior like persona. “Who are you?” yells Joey, the younger of the two. I stop, and silently stare at the brothers for a couple of seconds, then walk away. In my periphery, I see people in cars slowing down to look at me. Some honk their horns, while others don’t even acknowledge me. One guy sticks his head out the window and yells, “My son loves Optimus Prime!” As I loop back around the block I notice a gang of kids tracking me. When I stop, they stop. When I turn around, they hide. This hide-and-seek game repeats over and over, all the way back to my apartment.
Later, as I sit at my computer chatting, I recall how liberating it was to take my Avatar out for a stroll. Like MMORPGs I felt immersed in a world that was transforming around me. I wonder what it would be like to carry an object like a sword into this environment. Tomorrow, I’ll ride the B-Line into Copley Square and find out. Or maybe I’ll enter the Boston Public Library through the old section. It offers a wide-open marble staircases and dramatic views of the famous John Singer Sargent murals. The security guards are going to freak! I’ll probably get escorted out of the building. Or maybe they’ll humor me and play along. I would bet the majority of people given the opportunity, would love to act out their fantasies in public. I’m so excited I can hardly wait!
Authors Note: The preceding post is fiction written in blog form. These events did not happen. It is merely a mashup of memories, history, and my own imagination in an attempt to simulate what it would be like to wear an Avatar Machine for a day.
“Gingrich Attacks Romney Ahead Of Florida Vote : NPR.” NPR : National Public Radio : News & Analysis, World, US, Music & Arts : NPR. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://www.npr.org/2012/01/29/146055492/gingrich-attacks-romney-ahead-of-florida-vote>.
Hartley, Matt. “Is Google Evil? Not Really.” Business.financialpost.com. Financial Post, 26 Jan. 2012. Web. <http://business.financialpost.com/2012/01/26/is-google-evil-not-really/>.
“HowStuffWorks “How the Avatar Machine Works”” HowStuffWorks “Learn How Everything Works!” Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://www.howstuffworks.com/gadgets/high-tech-gadgets/avatar-machine.htm>.
Kessler, Glenn, and Peter Baker. “Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’ Comes Back to Haunt United States.” Washington Post: Breaking News, World, US, DC News & Analysis. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/09/AR2006100901130.html>.