No Man’s Sky vs. Our Sky

It’s clear to me that No Man’s Sky blurs the line of what it means to be fiction and reality. We most commonly conceive of our reality as having no definite or certain beginning. We have theories supported with science, but we really can’t say these theories are absolute truths in the philosophical sense. No Man’s Sky, on the other hand, is entirely based on algorithms that can be adjusted and manipulated on behalf of the game designers. The beginning of this virtual universe is right in front of us, and it’s slightly terrifying.

A friend and I were discussing the game when he asked, “It’s insane, where do we draw the line between making a game and building a real universe?” My response was purely pragmatic. “Matter.” In my opinion the physical world will always represent true existence because it is made of matter. Meanwhile the virtual world is all lights and colors and shapes without any real substance.

However, the game does force us to adjust or at least consider the possibility of competing conceptions of a universe. One way the game challenges the status quo is the interconnectivity of it all. In the real world we have something called the butterfly effect where one action results in a web of interactions. Most games have some variation of direct relationships that the player and developer can anticipate fairly easy. No Man’s Sky is different, for example, “changes to the handling of a ship can affect the way insects fly.” The algorithms intersect in ways that manifest something very close to reality. The game universe may be fiction but it still functions like a universe and has just as much wonder as a universe. It will be interesting to see how this interconnectivity plays out once the game is released. Perhaps the creatures get smarter, or more hostile, or some algorithm produced species dominates all others.

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