Reboot: The Hidden Truth?

Death. All around me i could smell the decaying corpses of my fallen comrades. I did not know how much longer i could go on. I pressed myself against the wall, exhaling softly.Grasping my shotgun tightly, ready to pull the trigger. Blackness. I was too slow. The tiny man wielding two pipes and spewing hot lead in all directions was simply too much to put down. I was caught in the abdomen, and i am dying slowly. Slowly and painfully. My only regret is that i wont get to see my family again….Mary….why didn’t i listen to you when you said not to join Hyperion? my heart breaks at the thought of her alone. Jack said he would take care of all of us. He was never one to exude trustworthiness though. I hope she is ok. I hope she doesn’t miss me. The man who never listened. she deserves better. Maybe now she will find it. With a man who doesn’t jump on the fortune bandwagon. Someone who will  stay with her and be with her forever. MAry….don’t miss me. Live well. Love well. Goodbye…..

Freaking sad right? I was spraying bullets and running over bodies in Borderlands 2 the other night, when i turned a corner and shot a man in the stomach with two guns. The look on the AI’s face was so sad and so pained, that it literally made me feel bad about killing him.Ive killed thousands upon thousands of enemies in games before, but i have never felt legitimately bad about it. How could nameless soldier # 876589 get me all depressed? Then i started thinking, what if the sprites, characters and NPC’s in video games actually had lives outside of the game world they live in? With the release of Wreck it Ralph, a story of a game villain who is tired of being the bad guy, begins jumping into other games, had me thinking along those lines. This causes confusion and distress, but all is well at the end much like every other medium that taps into that thought line. But what if it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows after we turn the game off? What if nameless soldier #876589 was actually a married man with a wife at home waiting for him? Those bullets you just fired took more than virtual life. it toom a man from his wife, and shattered their lives. Pretty messed up huh?


A show debuted back in 1994 named Reboot. made by a canadian studio, it was the first fully computerized television show. Everything was animated digitally, and it worked very well. They delved into the matter of what this article is about. What happens when the power gets turned off? What happens when you play the game? What happens when you win? It tackled these questions in a very straightforward, yet interesting way. Humans were the users/players, and the programs were the enemies/resistance. when a game was being played, a cube would drop down on a random zone in the show’s world, effectively cutting it off from everyone. Once inside, the area the cube dropped down on changes to become the game world where the battles/races/etc take place. The programs who live in Mainframe fight for their lives in this arena against the human controlled players. If they lose, the whole cubed off zone is decimated and the programs inside destroyed. Sounds like someone plays the villain better than the other, right? That’s because the human controlled players are the outsiders/villains to the programs. In the show, the programs were eseentially the protagonists, led by the hero program Bob. Let me start off by saying, Bob is one of the best characters from my childhood. Heroic, understanding, and not afraid to jump right into the middle of the “game”. His neverending loyalty to his friends, and his determination to not let any of the programs lose and become deleted, or “nulled”, is one to be admired. Granted, there exist many characters like that, but Bob has the distiction of being the exact opposite of most heroes. He is a program. Not a living being, but feels, acts, loves and defends the people he cares about much like a real person..sometimes even better.

The fact that they can do these things makes the show and premise that much more endearing. It provides a humanized outlook on something that we essentially deem as lifeless lines of code and fodder for our ridiculously overpowered virtual weapons. Come to think about it, i would like to apologize to nameless soldier# 876589 for robbing him of the rest of his life, and leaving his wife a broken shell of a woman, waiting for her husband to come back. Now im depressed. i am not sure about the rest of you, but if i knew for a fact that all of the enemies i kill, maim, disembowel, burn, shock, corrode, blow up, slice up, and ultimately annihalate were real, living breathing programs with a sense of self, i would feel very uncomfortable deleting/killing/f’ing over any of the enemies i encounter….especially when tea bagging is invloved.

In conclusion, the fact that Reboot tackled such subject matter as ” who is the real villain?” and “what happens when the power turns off” is a statement to the genre in its own right. When a writer creates a character or world, they immediately become attached to that creation, but why should that attachment be severed when the power is turned off? There is no way of really knowing, but maybe, just maybe, Bob is waiting in each of our games? Ready, willing and able to put us all down in the name of keeping his friends, family, and home safe? Think about that the next time you drag a sack across a dead character’s face.




About Arthur Harkness

I like things, and things like me back

Posted on November 15, 2012, in Cartoons, Geekology, TV and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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