Cloudmaker Nostalgia

My good friend and fellow Cloudmaker Jay Bushman has written a beautiful and incredibly well-documented account of what it was like to be a Cloudmaker during the A.I. Game, or The Beast, or whatever you want to call it. Go read it. If you were a Cloudmaker, read it twice.

I was treated to a special sneak preview of this piece before it went up, and my eyes were so clouded by memory that I had no criticism to offer at the time. Even now, the only thing I have to add is a sort of coda about the aftermath of Cloudmakers.

When the game was over, we -- or at least I -- felt a profound sense of loss. That was partly because we were drunk on the experience, and when it was over, we couldn't be sure if that lightning would ever strike us again. That one factor drove many of us into making stories of our own.

But it was also because the daily life of work-sleep-school-shower became a kind of dream for some of us while the game was on. It was less intense and less rewarding, after all, than the amazing thing we were going through together. While I didn't suffer as a result, I did have friends who did. In response, I wrote the essay Deep Water, a plea for designers and participants in a pervasive story to be careful what we ask of one another.

In a sense, my work today trying to untangle knotty issues like the ethics of a pervasive game is a spiritual descendant of that same concern.


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