By Imbalance 1 Comments
(Video Game Futures is a series where I talk about a video game franchise's portrayal of the future, and whether it is plausible.)
Game/Series: Mega Man Battle Network (Battle Network 1-6)
Year: 200X - 20XX
Yeah, yeah, you all know I have an unhealthy love for the Battle Network games, but what about the technology? Is that stuff even remotely possible? Let's find out!
To explain how the technology affects everyday life in Mega Man Battle Network, I have to explain the technology itself, first. Everything is based around the “PET” or “PErsonal Terminal.” The PET is... well, it's a smartphone (It was ambitious in 2001!) with a catch – it houses your “NetNavi.” A NetNavi (Or Navi for short) is a complex program with artificial intelligence that performs all the tasks on your PET. It sends your email, surfs the web, et cetera. You can “jack” your Navi “in” to devices and the internet to interact with other Navis.
Which brings me to...
Everyday Life, EnhancedThe year is 20XX. It's... pretty much the same. Not much has changed, but technology has been integrated into a lot more things than in our world. Mainly, things like desks, lamps and other things that serve a function all have a jack-in port, which is used for maintenance and configuration. Essentially, if you have a PET, a Navi, and a computer, they are your life. I mean, the main thing schools teach is how to deal with viruses.
The towns in the various countries visited in the games don't look very futuristic, but there are floating/flying vehicles and semi-futuristic structures in Battle Network 6. Those aside, there's not much to work with here.
However, the main event is...
The InternetThe Battle Network series' hyper-literal take on the aspects of the internet is an interesting way to look at how the future might pan out. The internet is a series of walkways and platforms, and programs and viruses are represented as virtual characters. For example, your Navi could go up to a program and tell it to turn whatever it controls on, instead of switching it on (or off).Viruses are represented as animals or objects, and can be defeated by using “battle chips.” You put these physical chips (Think DS game cartridges) into your PET, and your Navi recieves the data. You Navi uses the data, which is essentially a virtual weapon, to defeat the virus. Though it's hard to see what the point of “busting” (as the game calls it) viruses on the actual internet, it makes sense if you're doing it in individual devices if they're malfunctioning. So, fundamentally, it's an over-simplified view of computers and the internet. The world of the MMBN games is so centered on these concepts that it feels almost eerie. How long was this technology around before it was accepted into the norm like this? Aren't people scared of artificial intelligence anymore? I digress.
Of course, people aren't scared of using these things for malicious intent – as evidenced by the plot of the games. In the first game, the threat is the “Life Virus,” a huge spider-like thing. In the sixth and final game, viruses are appearing in the real world through use of “Copybots” - a humanoid shaped shell that you put a program in. The Copybot will then manifest the program (Intended for use with Navis) in the real world.
The series explores some interesting premises, that's for sure.
This series is set.... well, now, pretty much. In the later games, the year is changed to 20XX, so let's go with that for the best case scenario.
Even though some of the things portrayed may seem far off, consider this: All the functions of a PET are performed by smartphones. Artificial intelligence is a real concept, and it is being explored as we speak. If we get that down, then all of these things are possible. Heck, we've already created worlds like the internet in Battle Network – they're called MMOs. If we really wanted to, we could make this video game future happen right now. Let's get to it, people!
What do you think? Have a different opinion? A suggestion on which game I should do next? Post it in the comments!