Author Neal Stephenson predicted the MMO; wishes he hadn’t

While his prescience has long seen online gaming trends coming, the cyber-geek author Neal Stephenson doesn’t like to talk about it. Nor does it seem that he is particularly enthused about the Internet Age. 

[The] use of the vast resources of a networked world to play games with mortal stakes is a central element of the world that Mr. Stephenson laid out in books like “Snow Crash,” and in another of his novels, “The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer.” That book, published in 1995, described in detail an interactive book that can teach lessons on many topics, entertain with games and provide virtual training for living in the real world.

And the notion of learning real-world skills from online gaming is also a big theme of “Reamde,” in which young Chinese hackers hone their skills in English, learn effective problem-solving skills, even jury-rig a sail for a motorboat that has run out of fuel.

When he was asked, toward the end of lunch, where he thought computing might be headed, he paused to rephrase the question. “I’ll tell you what I’d like to see happen…” “The kinds of super-bright, hardworking geeky people who, 50 years ago, would have been building moon rockets or hydrogen bombs or what have you have ended up working in the computer industry, doing jobs that in many cases seem kind of ignominious by comparison…”

“What I’m kind of hoping is that this is just kind of a pause…”

people should say, “Now let’s get back to work doing interesting and useful things.”

[NYT, img]

-Jason Johnson