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Comprised Reality within Introversion Software


     Upon starting Introversion's Darwinia, a chance encounter with an alternate form of the developer's opening credits conveys an unsettling theme.  Similar to the method in which a computer lacking an operating system would run, a basic, .dos-esque screen flickers, revealing only a brief mention of the game's developer, before introducing the player to the digital world of the program's namesake.  Likewise, DEFCON disregards any acknowledgement of the game's fiction, suggesting rather that the quality of the player's abilities may have real implication in the near future.  Both worlds, though entirely imaginary, genuinely strive to convince the player of their "role without stakes" by acknowledging the electronic medium:  In Uplink, the game's A.I. recognizes that the "player" (designated only as a hacker) has been provided access to these fictional servers via a remote computer, further identified via the player's actual I.P. address.  Introversion's corpus marks a key development in the timeline of electronic gaming;  not only does each piece (Darwinia, DEFCON, and Uplink) contend to alter the player's perception, but they do so by considering the actual state of the physical gamer.
      In the fifth chapter of Jesper Juul's half-real, Juul determines that though fiction and rules are exceptionally distinct, their ability to interact with one another, and ultimately assimilate subtly into one another illuminates the fluctuation reality is capable of.  For instance, Juul finds that certain games, such as Tetris, recognize their own status as strictly games, and thus forms of entertainment.  On the other hand, select games, like Tekken, choose to forgo this notion of self-actualization, opting to utilize fiction in order to further immerse the player into a conjured world.  Similarly, Darwinia opens with a puzzled scientist trying desperately to garner the players help through a series of instant messages.  Again, the player's actual perspective is prodded at, as the scientist ensures him or her that despite the program's appearance and interface, it is by no means a superficial, fictionalized "game."  

     In Marie-Laure Ryan's Beyond Myth and Metaphor, the theorist determines two forms of interactivity:  Internal and external.  For the former, Ryan finds that the user must "project himself as a member of the fictional universe" either through an avatar or another medium.  On the other hand, external represents games in which the player assumes the role of a body-less force, influencing the game in a way that transcends the traditional rules of the realm that has been seemingly erected.  Introversion's software library tends to mesh together Ryan's separate notions, most notably within DEFCON.  Though the player assumes the role of nuclear coordinator within the confides of an undisclosed, subterranean bunker, the game plays an unsettling gag; if the player lingers on the home menu for too long, the sound of a women crying can be quietly heard over the game's equally quite theme.  Not only is the player awarded a role of utter power, but they are also reminded of the consequences of their actions within the realm of the game.  Similarly, XCOM: Enemy Unknown attempts to invest the player deeply within the fiction, despite their omniscience; character death is permanent, and favoring certain missions over others results in the obliteration of numerous nations.

    I found Introversion's library to bring forth the majority of its relevance and significance in the form of a concept I deemed "omniscient subjectivity."  In other words, Introversion will often reward the player with the ability to completely destroy the fictional world they are interacting with.  However, the consequence of doing so is the notion that by killing this fictional world, the player is committing to a cognitively self-destructive act by association.  Appropriately, forcing the player to appreciate and regard the fictional universe with some value, albeit ultimately relative, prohibits user-induced chaos by choice, rather than a forced rubric of rules.