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YOUR SMARTCAR EXPERIENCE

by BinaryDoubts

Science Fiction
2017

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Number of Reviews: 2
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
You need to purchase 1000 IFcredits to view this review., January 3, 2017
by Owlor (Sweden)
I recently re-read the book "In the beginning was the command line" by Neil Stephenson, a somewhat rambling account of the rise of GUIs and its effect on society. He uses an extended metaphor with cars to explain user interfaces and quips that driving a car with a Windows-style GUI would be a dreadful experience... yeah, I couldn't help but think about that as I played this.

The tendency to put a slick, commercial user-interface over everything was only starting to happen as Neil wrote the book in the 90s, and the tendency he noticed has grown exponentially since.

I do a lot of my reading on Kindle and in order to access my books, I need to swipe through an ad. Microsoft Office want me to pay every year for the privilege of using a program I already paid for once. When I got my new laptop, the start menu showed ads for Minecraft and helpfully loaded a windows store so I could feed more money in the maws of corporations. If I where to tweet about this, a half-dozen trackers would analyze every word to determine which brands to advertise to me, along with whatever other piece of personal information they can sell off. Facebook hides half my friends posts from me, Youtube keeps telling me to watch a video about a topic I stopped caring about months ago and will force as many clip down my throat of this comedian someone linked me to as it can fit on the screen.

Everything is clunky and slow, everything wants to nickle-and-dime me. Everything wants to make my decisions for me. This is the world this game takes place in: a near future where Stephensons quip about driving a car with a GUI has become reality and everyday transportation is as easy as using a computer or a phone...

...that is to say, clunky and slow, full of microtransactions and with automated programs trying to make decisions for you.

(Spoiler - click to show)The protagonist is being driven by their car to their spouse's funeral and this provides a backdrop to expose the clueless nature of the algorithms that govern their life. To the algorithms, their dead spouse is just an Important Person In Your Life to be used for emotionally manipulative advertisements or to keep you clicking on spotify for the illusion of social interaction through licensed music and their funeral is just an Event they are trying to get to, same as a gala or a business meeting.

The game is a very short, obvious satire, but it's a competently made satire, and at least to me, a welcome one.

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BinaryDoubts, January 3, 2017 - Reply
Hey Owlor, thanks so much for your insightful review. That Stephenson book has been on my reading list (actually, on my Kindle...) forever - I'll have to give it a read soon!
Danielle, January 3, 2017 - Reply
I wasn't going to play this game 'til after your review. The experience of it is still...hm, what's the word?...a gut punch even though I read your spoiler. Thanks for posting, your essay just adds to the value of the experience.
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