Video Games as a Mirror of the Age They Were Created

Can you elaborate on how you see Neuromancer as a reflection of its time? I guess I'm not sure if you're thinking of that statement in the sense of the technology available at the time, or if the story more broadly reflects the (American?) cultural milieu of the 80s.

In terms of computing, there was from TRON up to around Microsoft's Bob, a (failed and discredited) idea that the easiest way to work with large data was to map it to a physical space such that it would be natural for a user to navigate and interact within a vast data-space. This is clearly inefficient and awkward, but definitely was part of the pre-internet culture for a decade or so.

I'm not sure what that says about 80's culture at the time, really. I think the really lasting elements of cyberpunk in particular lie more in the simultaneous and uncomfortably juxtaposed condemnation and romanticization of unchecked consumption, population growth and the march of technological evolution that were hallmarks of the Glorious Capitalist Republic we lived in during the 80's and 90's. Turns out environmental degradation and the suppression of the working class is less romantic (in a Randian sense) than it seems, and the toys we get in return aren't as cool as the ones we imagined we'd have.

Chairman_Mao wrote:

Can you elaborate on how you see Neuromancer as a reflection of its time? I guess I'm not sure if you're thinking of that statement in the sense of the technology available at the time, or if the story more broadly reflects the (American?) cultural milieu of the 80s.

If you click through to the article, it does so. (Or tries to.)

This is an issue with dated sci-fi of all media formats, not just video games. Obviously, the game closely resembles the book's vision of the future. In 1984, it was all the rage to compare our society to Orwell's to see what he got right and wrong, and think about his contemporary-to-him influences. If we look at Star Trek or Star Wars, we see powerful machines hidden behind big chunky tactile controls with simple LCD screens, manipulated by people whose future fashion sense just happens to mirror the time in which the show/movies were made.

I'm sure that in a couple of decades, we'll do the same, looking at how today's "near future" sci-fi is a reflection of contemporary concerns and fashions... before confining much of it to the scrap heap of history.

That said, it's hard to think of many video games like this. Generally, people are loathe to make "near future" sci-fi, knowing how difficult it is to prognosticate and how quickly their work might become dated; much of it is set far in the future.

Right, I was just curious about the OPs opinion, if he agrees with the article or is just citing it to use Neuromancer as an example.