At any given moment, your social media feed is a cultural snapshot: an up-to-the-minute look at how the people around you feel about their lives and the issues that affect them. In the browser game Killing Time at Lightspeed, you get a glimpse of the future through the lens of social media, with all its pleasures and frustrations. The year is 2042, and you're reading Friendpage (a sort of Facebook/Twitter hybrid) on near-lightspeed flight to a new star system.
You can "commend" posts, respond to them, and read increasingly unnerving messages from the social media platform itself; updates from your friends are threaded with advertisements, news stories and absurdist bots. Because of the time-dilating nature of your flight, years can pass each time you refresh the page. As you hurtle into the future, you watch your friends argue about (and then accept) both new technologies and new concepts of people; privacy rights and the evolving civil rights struggle for synthetic beings are major plot threads.
Over time you get to know the various friends on your feed, and watch their attitudes shift. Discomfort with social change transforms into empathy and a new, more inclusive definition of normal, especially as people develop friendships and even romances with synthetic beings and see them struggle with harassment and abuse. (There's a dystopian thread that runs through the story too, as updates from Friendpage signal a troubling complicity with the government.) It's a fascinating look at how culture can evolve around contentious issues—and one that will be intimately familiar to anyone with a Facebook feed of their own.
Killing Time at Lightspeed is part of Antholojam I, a larger game jam based on the theme of golden age science fiction. You can play or download all 15 games here.
The Offworld Collection, presenting the very best features and essays from Offworld, is finally available to buy directly from Campo Santo for $40. I had the pleasure of designing and illustrating this splendid 250-page hardcover volume, but it’s the excellent writing, edited by Leigh Alexander and Laura Hudson, that makes it an essential buy. You […]
Zoya Street, curator of Critical Distance, offers slow reflections on the fast-paced world of digital play…
This week, our partnership with Critical Distance brings us reading on parenting via Tomb Raider, the utility of the word ‘gameplay’, and experiences from Nintendo ‘play counselors’ from the 1980s and 90s.
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Nobody is happy about the current state of our COVID-ravaged education system. With a new school year fast approaching, plans for teaching students still in flux, and political in-fighting driving more fear and confusion about whether or not to re-open campuses, teachers and parents are concerned. Meanwhile, most kids are just fine with spending less […]