Saturday, May 16, 2015

Beneath a Steel Sky Twenty One Years Later

IOS Intro Screen
(5/16/2015) Tampa, Fl ---It has been twenty one years since Beneath a Steel Sky appeared on the market and since then it has became a freeware since 2003. The game itself presented some novelty concepts towards the incorporation of Steam Punk elements as well cyber punk into the gaming world but as well appealing into masses who enjoy a nice decent story telling.

The game itself appeared on 1994 and it was developed by Revolution Software who created several classic games such as Lure of The Temptress and the Broken Sword series which by many critics is considered their magnum opus. Yet, their games where quite simple back when they started just Point and Click games that were quite entertaining to play, they were as really graphic novels where the player could interact with the environment.

On 2009 the re-release on the Apple Store the IOS version of the game. Which 15 years later was still charming and captivating as the launching the mid-nineties. By today standards the game could look quite primitive but the game itself contains literary elements that aren't found in today's games. Two of those elements are the dichotomy of technology on a daily life as well how much we lose ourselves between assimilating to a technocratic environment that can be ruled a corporate state.

Foster on the Suicide Emergency Exit
I was twelve years old when I played a demo of the game for the first time. It came on a CD-Rom that my father got on some place I am not so sure almost 21 years later. It was a small demo as I remember, it ended not long before Foster threw himself down the chute to the furnace.

One image that always stuck in my head after 1994 was the one on the left. Much as the imagery of Blade Runner and some Pulp Magazines that I found on my paternal grandfather's apartment, this was a close as I could imagine the dystopic future if something went wrong on the past.

A simple image where there was no nature, an endless maze of building of concrete and steel, there the protagonist is almost on the verge of death because there are no protections, and it let the player to imagine what is beneath that steel sky,? and the void that is separating Foster from dying.

The eye of LINC
The game offers an interesting glimpse to what is life 20 something years later and how technology had intervened with everyone. There are three examples during the game that can be seen today. A small security card that offers the information as well money from the dead security guard that you can see on the right screen; a terminal that can be used to navigate through the city's intranet as well how can be observed remotely through the use of a camera system.

Lets start with the number one technological advance. As of 2015 we can essentially transfer monetary currency and use as a personal identification device our smart phones. The idea 20 years ago that we could do and interact as with our phones beyond our homes was considered an improbability but today the vision of technology can be seen everywhere.

We can essentially use our phones for almost anything that 30 years ago would had required at least six different devices and of today many companies on the physical world are accepting applications such as Google Wallet in order to submit payments, yet we can use our phones to send our location, record videos and do a lot of interactions.

LINC Interface
Along the phones we have the tablets that can be connected to a Wi-Fi system or just data that is linked through the satellites in order to navigate inside the Internet. Some companies around the world they have on a lesser extent small tablets where the people can order or check information about their services.

Airports are companies that offer the services of the information through tablets as well the possibility to give free internet access to the visitors if they offer some sort of identification or if they pay for the services, much as Foster did after taking the one from the corpse of the security guard and accessing LINC's system to know what was happening around the city.

The third and last aspect goes with the concept of the Big Brother, the idea of being monitor by someone else and you don't even know it. Something as that happened to a family in Minnesota where their baby monitor got hacked from Amsterdam. In the game Foster is always followed by a mysterious entity that use the LINC intranet system to know about his whereabouts.

On an architectonic tone it's difficult to predict how long the world will look as the Corporate State that is shown on the game, at least on two case scenarios the idea is not strange because we can have an idea on how New York space can evolve as well some planning on Kyoto, Japan. There will be a moment that unless space is thought on a more efficient way we are going to be trapped beneath a steel sky.

References:
http://www.computerworld.com/article/2906454/eerie-music-coming-from-wireless-baby-cam-is-it-a-haunting-no-it-s-a-hacker.html
* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolution_Software

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