We are building something ever so strange…
Look, it’s me! I’m a naked acid-puking necromorph!
This is the multiplayer Dead Space 2, which is played on servers belonging to Electronic Arts. It’s a fairly long wait before enough people jump in to make up a game (it’s played in two teams, humans versus aliens; you need a good 6-8 people to start) so I listen in on the the chatter of players who’ve left their microphones open.
Now, I realize I’m in Britain, so the closest servers are probably in Europe somewhere, but I’m gob-smacked at the range of voices I hear. Not just European languages…there are quite a few from further afield. Russians and Chinese. Indians, I think. I’m not the best at identifying languages. The voices belong to older people than I would have guessed (or maybe it’s just older people who are dumb enough to leave their mics on). I often hear children and TV in the background.
Thing is, this mirrors my observations in art and music forums: thanks to the internet, we’re cobbling together a weird international monoculture. It’s heavily but not exclusively American. Anime and Manga are powerful influences in the visual arts, for example. Chinese martial arts in gaming.
In many countries, it can only be a tiny minority who have access to broadband and gaming-spec computers. But among those people, we are all sharing a single culture: music, movies, comics, animation…and especially video games. I have no idea what this means, but I’m sure it’s important. And weird. And completely unprecedented.
There are kids in Beijing and Bangalore playing rock and roll, and you would recognize the song.