Author’s Note: This is something I started work on shortly after seeing the movie “Ready Player One”. I enjoyed the movie to a small extent, but was annoyed with its flaws. As time went on, I found myself liking less and less of the film. It was also around this time that I was kicking around ideas for a potential ongoing writing series I could create for this blog.
This lead to the creation of “Digital World War”, a story revolving around a fictional MMO. I wanted to parody and deconstruct the themes of Ready Player One, while also creating a story that was its own thing and completely original. As a result, I came up with “Digital World War”. Work on this began back in April, and so far I’ve only created a few chapters.
I plan to release the chapters sporadically. Some chapters may be released on a weekly basis, some may come out after a month. I thought since this was my 350th post, I’d finally release the prologue for this story, to help set a basis for the series overall. I hope to have chapters 1 and 2 out in mid-October.
I’m always looking for constructive criticism on the series, so please feel free to leave your comments below. My main goal is to release as many chapters as I possibly can, before collecting them together into a novel/novella and trying to get it published. Constructive criticism would help me quite a lot in this area. Anyway, I’ve talked long enough. Let’s get in on with the show!
P.S. My goal with this series isn’t to make an “anti-war message”. I mainly use a fictional virtual war as a backdrop. The themes and messages will become more clear in later chapters.
The constant evolution of mankind is a surprising thing. Tens of thousands of years ago, humans were nothing but grunting apes. So many things change about humans, from what they wear to what they do with their time. If there’s something that has always been a never-ending struggle with mankind, it’s their perchance for violence and war.
For thousands of years, humanity waged war with each other. The reasons were always different, sometimes for religion, sometimes for money. People thought that humanity’s history of violence would continue for thousands of years until the end of time. This all changed in the year 2200, when the “Worldwide Peace Treaty” was signed. Most countries had no choice in signing the treaty, due to the economic crises the world faced.
This problems included lack of clean drinking water, overpopulation, and the constant smaller wars that broke out between the countries of the world. Due to this, the countries had little choice in the matter. It was either sign the treaty, or watch the government and the people within crumble beneath the weight of its own problems. The only option for the survival of the world was to band together, and to ban war in its entirety.
What was seen as a “a morally-charged publicity stunt created by hippies” by some, soon turned out to be one of the greatest decisions ever made by humankind. With no one waging war, the world settled into a time of piece. Violence was at an all-time low, and the nations of the world found themselves befriending each other more so than they had in the past.
As great as this new world was, it wasn’t destined to last. While humanity had made peace with each other, a strange event had taken hold of the planet. Centuries of continental shifting and climate changes had caused a massive shift in the earth’s crust. These shifts would eventually result in the unthinkable: The creation of a new continent.
The continental shifts resulted in the formation of a new land, which many scientists refer to as “Little Pangaea”. Over the course of two centuries, the continent slowly arose from beneath the glistening water. By the year 2412, the continent had fully emerged from its watery cocoon.
After emerging from the Atlantic Ocean, the new continent immediately made problems for the world at large. With this new continent seated beside several countries and lands, deciding who owned it was a large issue. A continent had never emerged from out of nowhere before, so there were no laws about who would gain this new piece of land.
Countries argued for 2 whole years about who would get this new continent, which strained on the peace treaty greatly. This arguing eventually carried over into the “Worldwide Peace Conference”, which was an organized meeting of the world’s leaders. This meeting would’ve resulted in a war, had one man not interjected. Simon Sunder was the newly elected president of the United States, and suggested that the continent should be given away in a sort of “competition” between the various countries.
However, this competition wouldn’t be a sports game, or an Olympic event. The president was a huge nerd and thought of the best way to decide which country should get it: By winning ownership of it in an online video-game! Of course, everyone thought the president was crazy. Some may even say that he was “slipping some Mary-Jane into his American Brew”.
As the discussion continued however, it soon became aware that the president was onto something. Having a war in real-life would break the treaty and end countless lives, but a virtual war in a video-game didn’t have that problem! Within the realm of a video-game, the nations would be able to fight each other without fear of losing lives.
Creating a new game from scratch to facilitate such an event would be an expensive undertaking, so it was decided to place this war inside a pre-existing game. The game that was chosen was a MMORPG (which stands for “Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game”) that had already been running for five years, known only as “The Pocket”. The Pocket was called that because it was an amazing place hidden from sight. The only way one could view this world was through the lenses of a “Integro VR Helmet”, a special virtual reality setup designed solely for this game.
The game was remarkable for when it was made, using the most cutting-edge technology to create a realistic and vibrant world for its various players to explore. There were no limits, no set classes, just the freedom to tailor one’s character and experience to their own personality. The game was so popular that it drew the attention of various copyright holders, ones who own the licenses to many pop culture icons.
This resulted in a game filled with nostalgia, from characters and places that were birthed from entirely different franchises. Much like how the game was obscured from sight to those without a helmet, the characters that were licensed were mostly from obscure franchises from the 20th and 21st centuries.
The reason a lot of these old characters and concepts were inside the game came down to a simple fact: Brand recognition. Over time, it became way too expensive to create new iterations of beloved or obscure properties. As a result, the copyright holders started allowing game developers to use their characters in any way they saw fit.
Over time, film and television mediums became obsolete. In the current year, the only way a person could even indulge in these old mediums was through old internet archive websites. People were more focused on enjoying these franchises as games, as opposed to watching them in film or television format. This attempt to create more interest for other mediums through the use of video-game adaptations backfired, killing the population’s interest in seeing these characters in their native habitat.
As a result, copyrighted characters existed solely within the realms of virtual worlds, such as The Pocket. This single game housed the most copyrighted characters in all of history, and holds the Guiness World Record for “Largest crossover game in history”. This was one of the more entertaining aspects of the game, even if a lot of people nowadays knew nothing about said characters.
The copyrighted characters weren’t the main draw of the game, however. What was the key selling point was character creation, as well as the game’s death system. In the game, if you died you would just lose all your currently equipped items. All your Tachyons (The game’s currency) , experience, and stored items would remain untouched.
Losing your items tied well into character creation. Having a complex and intricate character development system, it was easy to find multiple builds to suit your play-style. A player was often rewarded with more skill points than they could ever need, allowing them to customize their character in any way they see fit.
Losing one’s items often allowed for the player to experiment with new builds, trying different weapons and armor pieces that one might not normally use. To a lot of people, the experimentation and customization is what gave The Pocket it’s appeal. Due to this game’s popularity and large player-base, it was the perfect place for the governments of the world to wage a new war.
After choosing The Pocket as their testing grounds, it was decided to implement a new mode separate from standard play. This mode would be a special war-zone, separate from the main areas. If you lost in this mode, you would still lose all your items, but with a catch. In order to dissuade people from blindly using this mode, a massive limit was placed on it. If your character were to die during this war, then you lost that character for good.
All of the items, Tachyons, experience points, and history you had built up with this character would be lost forever. You’d never be able to use that same username again and as a result, this character would disappear from the game world permanently. If you wanted to get back into playing the game, you’d have to make a new character from scratch.
This wasn’t the biggest draw of this new mode, however. The goal of this mode was to collect 8 “Sacred Sigils”. They were scattered across randomly generated worlds, dungeons, and special areas housed within this war-zone. The warriors of a specific land who collect all 8 will gain the new continent for their country. Players who join the war, but are not associated with the real-life military of any country can still collect the Sigils on their own.
If said players were to collect the Sigils on their own, they’d have one of two choices: Choose a country who they feel should own the continent, or destroy the Sigils and cause the entire competition to be null-in-void. Of course, most players enter with the intention of helping their country and receiving a vast reward from their government. Most countries offer huge bounties to guilds that will help them collect the Sigils.
Of course, there are some who would prefer the second option. Many people who play the game just want this stupid war to end without a concrete winner, or for the countries of the world to build their own game to fight out this war in. As a result of this, some have dedicated themselves to finding ways to get rid of the sigils. There were also players within this game who just don’t want to get involved, who would rather just play the game for fun. This is the story of one such gamer, the high-ranking player known as “Vik-Rik”.