Bloody Ethics

Can a Game That Poses Moral Questions About Murder Survive Its Own Success?

Maybe it's inevitable. What's at stake is not simply the profits of a few corporate gaming divisions. Crossbreed Ultima with a suite of productivity applications, and the world's financial infrastructure, and you're looking at the business medium of the new millennium. "It's not even going to be a decade away," predicts senior producer Bell. "We are sort of at the Lumière Brothers stage." As Neal Stephenson describes in his sci-fi cult classic Snow Crash, executives will have avatars that meet in virtual boardrooms, much like players meet in Ultima today. These alter egos of the future will be wearing suits from Armani Digital, and when they shake hands to close a deal, the cash will transfer automatically.

illustration by Jeff Crosby

Now imagine if these transactions were interrupted by someone like Evil Galad, and you can see how important it is for this medium to be safe and secure. Ultima has to be tamed if it's going to merge with Wall Street. That may take a while, but the malling has already begun.

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