In the future, once we’re all ensconced in our virtual reality worlds, is this the way it will all end? On February the 28th, 2009, Tabula Rasa, an MMORPG (like World of Warcraft and RuneScape) was shut down, after failing to attract enough subscribers related to the current economic downturn.
In his article “Analysis: Tabula Rasa’s Final Moments – A Firsthand Account“, Simon Carless evocatively writes:
By the afternoon, the West Coast server Hydra was the last server standing. As more and more of its citizenry logged on for the last hurrah, and foreign players from dead servers poured in to squeeze a few more hours out of the game, it became increasingly congested, buggy, and lag-ridden. The intended scenario was indeed playing out not just in the game and the fiction but as a metagame: the active duty population swelled as humanity prepared to make its final stand.
Simon’s description reminded me a little of the recent Doctor Who episode “Utopia”, where at the end of time humanity are huddling together as heat death consumes the planets they had colonised. The ‘Futurekind’ almost like NPCs, also collecting together, prior to being finally terminated.
In a doubly ironic twist of fate, ‘Tabula Rasa’ is Latin for ‘blank slate’, or rather ‘slate wiped clean’, popularised by John Locke as a rather now out of fashion philosophical thesis that individuals are born without any built-in mental content and that their knowledge comes from experience and perception alone (the whole ‘nature’ versus ‘nurture’ debate is more balanced now). It also resembles the off state of the server infrastructure that would have supported the game that presumably had it’s ‘memory’ wiped clean, prior to being redeployed to support other functionality.
Thanks to Mick Farren’s blog for bringing this to my attention.
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