This is a good game. But at the beggining it left me confused about the themes and my goals. The first few times I wondered "how can I survive?". A second playthrough made me think "am I a sleeper agent infiltrator? Am I secretly trying to infiltrate this community to subvert and destroy?".
After getting endings A-F I googled and found Kuntzelman's waypoint piece which clarifyied a lot of things. The analogy of vessels and indigenous spirituality became clear. The lesson of learning to listen and the inability of a colonial mindset to do so is great.
After getting the scene with the debate about the contradiction between nature and technology, then I was able to start thinking about what I'd played. But, at this point, I'm too close to be able to judge how well the game presents these ideas, how much people will be able to take away from it.
I get the scope of this game and the constrains it has, but I feel there's important questions this thematic has yet to answer.
- The contradictions that makes us want to escape or that has made us be left behind (obsolete). I'm talking about the real world ones that can be represented in art, turned (or not) into an allegory. As alluded in-game, our idelogies can even blind us from understanding our own lives. But sometimes we can at least identify it as a bad feeling. Putting that sensation in more explicit terms, or in words, is a valuable contribution that art can have.
- By defining this issue, it becomes clearer what is the contribution indigenous knowledge can have to solving said contradictions. That way it could show how we are dismissive of indigenous knowledge and how we're worse for it. I like how the game shows that alternatives exists/existed and how destructive the dominant ideology is (including to its own civilization) when it suppresses, ignores or erases these alternatives.
- Making the allegory AI = ideology, the next logical step would be to show how the powerful benefit from this ideology and how it helps to sustain the status quo; making the job of erasing alternative wolrdviews and way fo living indispensible. In our world it's manifested in conservadorism, but that's just the expression of the phenomenon. I think that showing the necessity of its existence is a more novel idea in pop culture.
A lot of sci-fi uses a bad definition of technology, which is almost invetible, being made at a certain time and, in the US, the dominant power in the world, and thus, by people subjected by a certain ideology and to please people under the same. Usually it equates the accumulation of technological things with modernity, and it with development, and that with a higher form of being, a betterment or emancipation of humanity. As a scientific category this accumulation definition is rather vague. It is the common sense understanding, and vague, because it benefits the dominant forces of the status quo. Amongst otherthings, it's used as justification for the economic and cultural subjugation of other societies.
I think cyberpunk can challenge that definition of technology and modernity. We don't see how more advanced the Hub is. The parallel needed to be shown is that more tech in the Hub does not translate to better lives. Usually, the juxtapositon made is more tech = oppression, authoritary, less freedom, less tech = more freedom. Not only it's overdone, some times badly done, it' s not valid to indigenous cultures. Indigenous cultures were more rigid in tradition, and had less individual freedom. Scarcity means no margin of error, you do what has worked before so the community can survive the winter. Failed experimentation can kill not only you, but your children and your neighbors' children.
While we think we have more individual freedom, not only, that is not true to everyone, it's also conditional to how much money you have and which country we're born into. The individual freedom we enjoy does not go to the full extent of the meaning freedom. While we're free in this way, we're also less free than indigenous people in the sense they are more autonomous. Or they were more in control of their development and success until they were decimated by us. We have debts, bosses and government - manifestations of the interests of Capital - that rule over our lives. We can't work unless Capital decides it needs our labour. Indigenous people are free to labour for their own needs.
- The juxtaposition I want to see is between technology that's used to dominate us and technology that's used to turn us more human. The technology in favor of Capital is alienating, separating the intellectual labour from the manual labour, the emotional from the racional, turn us into cogs in the machine, makes us partial humans. The alternative is a more fulfilling labour, one that puts us in connection (as opposed to alienation) with the community nature, with each other (no class/power distiction between manual and intellectual labour). Machines that works for us (reducing the amount of work we do) instead of us having to adapt to the work rhythm of the machines (think Charles Chaplin)
- Used is the key term to avoid falling in a luddite trap. Who uses, why and how. That is: technology defined as the social relations involving técne or technique (which in turn means, people's acts aiming to solve a contradiciton bewteen humans and nature).
This goes back to the point of + tech = more advanced too. While indigenous communities did not make microchips and computers. they made a functioning society that made them more human and did not destroy themselves. Now we can see our society doing the opposite of both but our dominant culture and ideology says the opposite. Art can contest those conceptions. In the least, it can do it better than the verbiage of this post.