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Monthly Archives: March 2016

 

 

Build.

 

 

There is a road  in Beirut.

It cuts into, wraps, the heart of the city.

It’s elevated. The Mediterranean shimmers in front of it.

It melts downtown. Chokes on smog.

This city is proud, broken, laid out in front of it.

A sunbather in boiling light.

The circular theater still hollow concrete.

The unfinished tower too large to destroy.

The curve by the shore where the Prime Minister was assassinated.

The Virgin Megastore. The rotten parliament.

Hezbollah slums. Refugee camps.

Bullet-riddled.

Vibrant.

A place that never recovers, but always comes back.

More resilient than NYC.

Wilder than LA.

More expensive than Paris.

The birthplace of the modern suicide bomb.

Scarred by the most complicated, brutal civil war in modern history.

Thousands of refugees massacred in camps.

Families incinerated at checkpoints.

Hundreds of US Marines ripped apart.

A war of 18 religions.

A war of psychopaths.

In a city that remains broken to survive, people break.

Become husks of selfish ideology.

Hollow ghosts haunting screens.

Not singular.

Not identifiable.

Unrelatable to the first world.

A sheared mass getting its picture taken.

A generation of Manhunt executions devoured by technological and spiritual adolescence.

Everyone prey.

Everyone consumed.

Everyone The Plague.

But beauty endures in this hole.

The world doesn’t forget.

Tracers at sunset.

Old men at backgammon beneath street lights.

Silhouette ships stoic on the horizon.

Throwing food to the gutter cats.

Coffee and hookah by the shore.

This dread is compelling.

A resigned immediacy focuses the landscape.

On the precipice of every frayed nerve, the heart unravels.

This is where The Division functions.

It rips NYC open, exposes it to the developing world.

It is a reimagining of DMZ with less character and more violence.

The Division’s NYC doesn’t feel apocalyptic.

It is not a wasteland.

It is frozen and lush.

A thorough contemplation of adorned repulsion.

Garbage stacked high on every street.

Holographic memories of people burned alive.

Civilians fighting over food in the cold.

But there’s the sunlight. The fog. The snow. The night.

Piss Christ reconstructed as a city.

And the days seep into each other.

NYC via Beirut.

Sarajevo.

Belfast.

Chernobyl.

Extremist ideology in rational abandonment.

The Division is criticized for espousing a fascist world view.

The player is a federal agent assisting in the violent restoration of this city.

The player’s main interaction is shooting at those who hinder this restoration.

The Division is one gang among many.

The player exists in this world like the Cleaners and the Rikers.

Living weapons moving through the world.

Explosive noise echoing down.

Violence is the coalescing force.

The shared experience.

To say The Division is fascist is to never live through conflict.

To never witness a complex, living system unravel around you.

To never hear a car bomb detonate a block away.

To never have a relative gunned down at an arbitrary checkpoint in the middle of the night.

Labeling it as fascist is to misunderstand the mechanics of prolonged, uncontrolled conflict.

Everyone seeks to exert their order, but no one succeeds.

Wills stagnate. Violence drones on.

It becomes ‘the way it is’.

The Division is absurd hyper-realism.

In the Dark Zone, the game takes the equanimity of its violence to its logical extreme: everyone can kill and steal from everyone.

There is a constant immediacy.

This is the fiction.

Conflict isn’t bound by self-preservation and stagnation, but a rapid calculus of greed.

The Division can be interpreted as a companion to This War of Mine.

Where TWoM is a personal view of surviving conflict, The Division is about exploring the raw, ridiculous heart of it.

About examining failure through density.

About the futility of will filtered through factional violence.

 

About watching the sun light up bodies by the shore.

 

 

 

 

sgr

 

 

I.

My wife is pregnant.

IA.

My wife is pregnant with twins.

II.

We are driving home from our first ultrasound
and

IIA.

it’s snowing. There is snow in the quiet sunlight and

IIB.

I am 32 years old. The radio is off. I think about dreams. I

III.

turn to her. I love her. I love her profile. She is looking ahead. She is depressed and I ask her:

IIIA.

‘If you go back to your earliest memories, right? If you go back to the first things you could remember, what did you dream of? What is the thing you wanted to see more than anything else in your life?’

IIIA1.

She is quiet. Thinking.

IIIB.

‘America’, she says. ‘I always wanted to see the states.’

IV.

She is Lebanese, born in Cote d’Ivoire. She spent her childhood there before moving with her family to Beirut.

Before moving to Rochester to be with me.

IIIC.

‘And you?’

She looks at me. I stare ahead. I think I know what I’m going to say. I go back.

V.

It was never just about video games. No. It was stranger, more impossible. Bigger. It was so much bigger. It was a static flood with no voice. Yeah. In that house in California. In my room with Francis. In my room and my parents yelling. In my room and the muffled yelling. The screaming. And I want to get out and I want to be somewhere else and I want to wake up somewhere else and be someone else and feel nothing but warmth, just warmth, just peace, just

IIID.

‘Virtual Reality.’ I look at her. ‘Growing up here in the U.S., that was the dream for a lot of people. It became a cultural phenomenon, like a hysteria almost. It lasted into the early 90’s or so and then it just died. The technology just wasn’t there.’

She nods.

IB.

We will know the sex of the babies at the end of March.

IB1.

Two weeks after the assassination of Julius Caesar.

One month before Hitler’s suicide.

At the end of March

VI.

Virtual Reality will exist. It will enter the market. I will know my children’s sex and people I don’t know will disappear again. Just for a while. ‘Only a little while’, we say.

VIA.

Dreams are so short and so long.

IIIE.

I look up at the sky. I love this light. Grey and orange. It is this sky that unifies us and will I

VII.

ever see the skies of Tokyo? Will I take my children there? Will they know what Japanese games mean and meant? God,

VIII.

nothing feels the same anymore. What will their dreams be?

IIIF.

‘Our dreams are so small compared to our children’s. What we thought was inconceivable has already happened. We’re in our thirties. What will our children dream of? Can you even imagine?’ I daydream. My eyes freeze and shine.

IIIF1.

‘Space, I guess…’ she says. I nod. ‘And more than that probably, maybe visiting other planets.’

IIIF2.

The small imagination of parents.

IX.

I get into an argument with a man in Lebanon. We are in a village in the mountains. He knows my family. He was held in an Israeli prison and tortured. He is out now. I told him there can be peace. There can be peace if there is respect. He gets agitated. He talks about being electrocuted. He talks about being bound like a dog. About being beaten. About being hung by his tied hands from a pole and left to burn in the sun. He talks about how there can never be respect and

X.

in 2016 I torture Nazis in Wolfenstein. I tear their bodies apart and

IXA.

I go back to Lebanon. I go back to being bombed over and over and over and over again across three decades. I go back to that horrible, droning sky. Respect and peace. Respect and peace. Respect and peace and torture and escape. Escape…

X.

isn’t that the point of the background? The sky in Destiny. The bright stages of Fighters History Dynamite. The scorched, scrolling earth of Dodonpachi. The blurred grey of Wolfenstein. These visions of a larger world sprouting ideas and hopes of interaction.

XA.

The hopes of children.

XI.

Where do dream eyes emerge? When are they born?

IIIG.

I pull up to the house. I help my wife take the groceries in. I hug my cat and pet his stomach. He meows. This is something. I lay down. It is dark. I am at home in the dark. I think about the ultrasound. I think about my children’s heartbeat coming through the machines. They are coming into this. I breathe. They dance in the womb. They have the right idea. I am already proud of them.

XII.

Living is the ambition of love. No matter where we put ourselves. No matter how painful. No matter where and how we die. No matter how cruel the failures. No matter the knotted origins of our glimmering dreams.

Love is the point.

XIIA.

When I found video games. When I read Edgar Allen Poe for the first time. When my father held me in that pool. When my brother was born. When my mother was proud of me. When we raised canaries. When my cousins stood up for me. When teachers enjoyed my writing. When I found Insert Credit. When my wife agreed to date me. When I found the Rochester FGC. When I adopted my cat. When I went to PAX for the first time. When I found Videoball and started writing again. When Tim Rogers hugged me.

 

XIII.

Love is always the goddamn point.