A Computer, in Your Game, in Your Computer

I was reading this article at the Escapist about the future of gaming in regards to how we view fiction today. It's interesting how much press the release of LA Noire drummed up in respect of it's 'respectable' structure and it was perhaps a conscious decision on the behalf of the publishers to sell it as more of an interactive movie than a video game in order to try and reap back the millions they'd sunk into it. To be fair, the visuals are startling and a lot of those millions were pumped into the extensive amount of cut scene activity and realistic facial movement.

LA Noire realism

As a 'gamer' however, LA Noire left me unfulfilled. As an interactive movie it was unarguably ingenious, but much like this article points out, us geeks, and probably most people in general want to feel like they're contributing to the world, whether that be real or imagined. The fulfillment lost in LA Noire comes from knowing that you play a key part in your imagined world, that it's at your whim, kind of like the God-complex that The Sims series so well indulges. That's why that article points to Second Life and Minecraft as the future of gaming. Developers should save money on realistic faces because we know what they look like. They should provide us the tools and building blocks of our own worlds, because so far we can only imagine what they look like.

Which is why, when a chance misspelling of a research term for a class tomorrow led me to the fact that using the raw building materials of the Minecraft and with a full understanding of the in-game mechanics, people were building fully working (if relatively low-power) computers, I was totally blown away.

Minecraft Logic Gates
(Minecraft logic gates.)

The possibilities and principles raised by this evolution of gaming implies several startling possibilities:
  • With a scaling up of the world of Minecraft we could see the growth of much bigger working models of computers. At the moment, the size of a Minecraft 'world' means that physically, and based on the size of a block, only so much information can be squeezed in but with growth we could see much complex systems.
  • Extrapolating this, an interesting thought experiment might be to see if a Minecraft computer could be built more powerful than the computer it runs on, based on the fact that Minecraft is a web-based game.
  • Would entire wolds be built STARTING with the computer? There already exists the plans for a 3D printer in Minecraft, how soon before players are building entire bespoke meta-worlds using only the rawest building blocks as atomic elements in the universe construction?

  • Finally, in the true spirit of being a part of something, almost all the major developments within this fringe world of Minecraft computing is put on their Wiki, meaning that unlike the true world of computing, it's not bogged down in patents and lawsuits. What happens when advances in Minecraft computing are parallel to or better than real-world technology?
The inventors of these computers have unwittingly combined a fundamental understanding of the in-game mechanics with their own knowledge of computer science and have been provided the raw materials and omniscience to build these constructions to indulge in a sort of fictive / reality cross-over that's totally unlike anything I've seen before.