It’s only a game.

playing earth

By Chester Hart

It’s impossible to tell you what year it is. Years as we know it don’t really exist anymore. But Alfred and Victor (not their real names) have been friends for around one year. They could tell you that one of their years is worth twenty two point three earth years if you asked them because they have to learn all about earth and what happened there as part of their education, which lasts for three years. One of the ways they learn about earth is through an interactive virtual reality (VR) simulation.

‘It’s your turn.’ Said Victor, removing his VR gear, he’d left a light layer of slime on it that made Alfred wince.

‘How’d you go?’

‘I mined a million tonnes of coal, got nuclear weapons for North Korea and made sure it was all over the U.S media. Oh, and I got a crazy man as their president.’

‘Not bad. But you know the aim of the game is not just to wipe out humanity right?.’ Said Alfred as he pulled on his virtual reality headset and strapped the controllers to his wrist.

‘Yeah, I know but you get the highest score when you smoosh them out quicker’

’You do not. Watch this.’

At the end of his turn Alfred sat back with a satisfied smile. 

‘See, I only mined half a million tonnes of coal, switched most of the developed world onto renewable energy, installed a progressive government in nearly all of the European countries and arranged a diplomatic meeting between the asian powers and the U.S. Oh, and I managed to get a woman into power in the U.S. All that has to extend the human race by at least 1000 years. And you know what that means – more points.’

‘Boring. We’ll see who has more points when the game is over. The game is called Earth, not human. You just like them because you think they are like us but they’re so not. They did not have fur, like we do. They could not communicate with other animals, like we can. They had not mastered the art of interstellar travel, like we have. They were, in all counts, inferior to the Rasta Nation. They were like some kind of disease, we all know that from the fossil records. We, on the other hand are sons and daughters of Jah – The creator himself.’

‘Yeah but what if they thought that too. There is archaeological evidence that they had religion you know.’

‘That’s just speculation, have you not been paying attention in class. Those symbols and robes and all that other stuff could have been anything, and even if they did, we know that they were wrong about it all anyway. And anyway, it’s just a stupid game, no matter what you do, the humans still all die in the end. Best kill them all early and set the conditions to be able to evolve something else. Then you can start earning points with the new intelligence before the game is over.’

‘You have a point Victor, but I still think my tactic is better. I heard that there is a way to play the game so the humans don’t even die. So they continue as a species and even start to develop the kind of society that doesn’t totally destroy everything. I heard there’s a kid two years older than us that managed it and he was instantly snatched from class and given a great position in one of the explorer ships that goes out and looks for new life in unknown parts of the universe.’

‘Yeah sure, I’ll believe it when I see it. And by the way, I think you’d have to do more than what you’ve done there. I mean they start us in the human year of 2019. So much has already happened by then that’s hard to reverse. You would almost need to give them some of our technology to be able to pull it off.’

‘Maybe so but I still think I can do it. If I can just work out how to get more people to switch off their phones and devices. Even with all the moves I’ve made there are still these massive companies that snatch peoples attention through the devices and make them do really stupid stuff. Like buying all this stuff they don’t need and then just throwing it into a huge hole.’

‘I told you, they are a disease.’

‘Or maybe they just have a disease, there has to be a way to do it.’ 

Alfred grabbs his headset and goes back into the world. After five minutes he re-emerges to find his friends sitting with drinks for them both.

‘What’d you do?’

‘I tried something pretty drastic.’

‘What?’

‘I turned the internet off.’

‘Completely off?’

‘Yep, it’s absolute pandemonium. The people have all gone crazy.’

‘Yeah, you can’t just switch it off. They’ll go mental. Actually kind of jealous. Wish I’d thought of it. I bet you’ll be done with them before me.’

‘I think they can recover. They’ll learn what’s really important. Get back to their lives, start growing their own food and travelling less. They’ll relocalise and develop culture and do all the stuff they need to do and then they’ll survive. And I’ll be on the chief explorer ship.’

‘I think you’re dreaming. I say exploit the resources. Get the points while they’re there to get and then let them die. You wait and see my score will be gargantuan. And then they’ll want me to be on that ship.

‘Well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see. It’s only a game anyway. It’s not like our lives depend on it.’

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