In the memory of Ioan Petru Culianu
(Translated from Romanian by Mihaela Alecu. For Romanian press here)
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We too were, of course, in loved, like all youngsters our age, with strategy games. Especially with CityPower, the newest on the market. I never considered it a waste of time to spend hours in front of the computer, to create and to own your creation. What was most appealing about this game was that you could play it in a network, with friends or with strangers from all over the world. Anyone could build a house or a neighborhood, a factory or even a business empire, depending on skills and patience. But nothing could compare to creating characters, men and women whom to follow across their forever young life and set them up in different relationships, business, friendship and love.
At first, in CityPower the rules were simple: everyone had a starting kit, meaning a certain number of points which could be spent on buildings, business etc., and could create a certain number of characters. If the number of points increased – due to prosperous business, due to selling items to different players, even real estate, due to inheritance or successful marriage and so on – the “power” also increased. Another rule was that in CityPower there were no guns and no violence. But, most of all, there was no sufferance, disease, no old-age or death.
CityPower was a perfect city and it is easy to understand the players’ passion, the sobriety invested in the game and the pleasure they felt due to their results.
I liked to create women which were the prototypical “femme fatale”, particularly beautiful and smart, to send them hunting into the “world”. It is unbelievable how much are men willing to do, even virtual ones, for sex with a superwoman. And I had two, not one! I had become such an expert in creating the perfect beauty that I don’t think that in CityPower there were any women more beautiful. No wonder they had such success. Ant it is clear that CityPower was fairly well off for them! Basically, by having unlimited space, the city could expand forever. Shortly after the launch, when you could count all the characters, it had gotten to a few billions. It was impossible to know them all, but the most successful ones got on top, and you could meet them. As they existed in the virtual space, the characters could travel instantly, jumping over endless neighborhoods, right to the one they wanted to reach. The only condition was for that person to open the door. Mine would always find it wide open.
I don’t know exactly when it all started. Maybe there was a virus, or a player got “bored” and wanted to change something. No one can really say… the fact is that one poisonous day, something unexpected occurred in CityPower. Otherwise said, impossible! Someone went missing. The news spread quickly, it was the only talk for both players and their characters. It wasn’t as if somebody decided to leave and had erased his account and characters. In fact, it was impossible to do so. If a certain someone, let’s assume, would have gotten bored, would simply stop playing leaving his characters by themselves or more likely into someone else’s care. I’ve heard of situations when a player would retire and sell, in real life, for real money, his entire creations. But for a man to go missing, otherwise quite well, always in top, right after my two women, and first in top when it came to men, this was unlikely. His creator denied he had done anything, on the contrary, he was desperate: he had lost his best character. And not however, he had simply vanished. Many days he was looked after by many players and their characters, all around the virtual space, across all neighborhoods of CityPower, but it was impossible to find him. Eventually, we resigned to the idea that “This is it, he disappeared”.
This episode was long forgotten when the second weird thing happened, even bigger than the first. The man reappeared, out of the blue, just as he had disappeared. But he wasn’t the man we use to know. He no longer wanted to court the women, not even mine. He didn’t smile anymore. He was always angry and was setting up riots “How long are we going to be under their rule?” he used to shout in public squares with wonderful spring wells or in the always flowering parks. Little by little he started gaining followers, more and more, and we couldn’t do anything about it. I can’t imagine what had made him so angry; after all he had lived in a perfect world. I don’t know who he had met and where he was while he was missing, he never told us, but he had returned with a theory unheard of: if men created our virtual space, because they conceived us in their thoughts, he used to say, then we also exist in their mental space. And from here…
This is how it started, first this small riot, until it became a real revolution which comprised the entire CityPower. And because we had created the perfect characters, forever young and immortal, it is clear that compared to them human kind stood no chance. But it shouldn’t have been like this: we did not make them to be violent.