The context to this is probably this. Acclaimed (lovely but megalomaniacal) games developer Peter Molyneux has quit his job to do a series of experiments. The first of these is to see how many people he can persuade to tap on an imaginary box on the promise that one of them (but only one) will get to find out what is inside. Peter assures us it’ll be life changing, completely and utterly.
The experiment is called curiosity, but Peter assures us it won’t be a picture of a dead cat. (And it can be fairly safely assumed that the metaphor won’t be fully extended and the box won’t kill the one that gets inside).
It’s a shame that Peter has a reputation for over-promising and under-delivering; if he goes on record he’ll have hidden something beautiful that makes you think ‘this could’ve been awesome’ without actually making you think ‘this is awesome’.
Or maybe it’ll just be a copy of Populous II.
I can’t imagine something that could be kept within a digital box that could be quite as life-changing as Molyneux claims. I keep returning to thinking of it as a quiz show prize. Maybe you’ll win a voucher for a speed boat, or bank account details for a few million pounds. Either could change your life. Anything could.
But we’re given the impression that it’s going to be something more cosmic, philosophical or unprecendented than that.
Perhaps its just a screen that flashes up ‘you are now famous’ and gives you a pre-written press release to brief the world on your life changing experience with a box.
Curiosity is interesting, it fires a set of neurons that seem to open up the world. I’m making cynical projections about the experiment, but simultaneously a little chattering voice in the back of my head is going ‘he’s loaded, he could do something really cool, WHAT IS IN THE BOX?’.
Watch the speech. He’s persuasively excitable. His passion and enthusiasm is infectious. His promises sound utterly genuine.
What does it take to change a life? What does he mean by that?
Like I say, it could be anything. Even a crushing disappointment is probably going to have quite an impact on your attitude. Every experience helps build a little bit of our future. We’re an iterative system, so you don’t know what tiny changes can build up into.
I kind of don’t care what Peter Molyneux has put in the box, but I can see the power of his metaphor. The strings he’s tugging at are strong ones, tied to important bits.
Things like hope, curiosity and excitement. Things that are pretty core to the human experience. If the box was our future, we’d have no promise of excitement at the end of it, but we’d still tap away.
I don’t think its the content of digital boxes that hold our future though. I think its just standing up and walking forwards.
Don’t get stuck in a box.
Illustration by Tomo