An argument could be given that innovation is hindered by a paralyzing fear of technology. Deus Ex: Human Revolution explored the fear of losing control over our own agency; this week, Plug Me In covers Remember Me, Capcom’s newly released title that begs the question: what would you do if your own memories went corporate?
Released this month, the game thrusts you into a highly advanced, futuristic version of Neo-Paris, in an age where memories themselves have become digital commodities. In this world, 99% of the human population is implanted with Sensen, which takes everything a body encodes and uploads it to a corporate global network to be retrieved or shared by all. As a user, you have the option of partitioning your memories and choosing which ones to upload; though invasive, most of society is ready and willing to engage in the tech completely for the euphoria and ecstasy of experiencing memories they otherwise would have no access to. As the protagonist, you’re able to hack into the network and use memories to penetrate heavily secured military facilities; avoid enemy paths; and change the very behavior of the people you choose to interact with. In short, you can delete the very memories that made an individual a threat to you in the first place.
Neurologically, the recollection of a memory, depending upon where we are at present, transforms every time we do decide to remember it. Our memories, our livelihoods are stored in real-time; theoretically, the last frontier within which our narratives are still told in our own voices. While sometimes my mind feels like a hard drive with a glitchy power cable, it essentially compiles sensations, images, and sounds that influence my daily decisions. With these memories, I do what most people with an internet addiction do: post on Facebook, shoot texts, upload images, and repeat. I leave a digital footprint wherever I go – a trail revealing where I’ve been, who I’ve laughed with, and where I’m planning to be. Whenever I upload something, I am essentially creating a digital file of my memory; I am also giving other people permission to create their own perceptions of who I am. Most of the time, I’m pretty cognizant of what I leave behind, but sometimes I honestly wonder how accurate I’m portraying those memories.
It’s unsettling that this game came out the same time Project PRISM gained popular media attention. The rather dystopian $20 million dollar project of the National Security Administration has provoked rampant paranoia (many people previously unaware of their digital identity have begun encrypting…well, everything). Given present events, it’s plausible to perceive our memories as unsecured digital goods to be interpreted and re-interpreted by every individual or governing body who sees them. Instead of fearing it, however, I’m oddly finding myself visiting the idea that while an individual may have less control over who sees what he or she does, there is a re-invigoration of agency. In a sense, we’re reminded of exactly how much power we can have. Our memories, our digital and organic identities, are constantly shifting – but when it gets down to it, we still get to choose.