I stumbled on a story the other day about a video game that an old computer programmer wrote. It was called Savvy Avatar. But no one’s heard of it because it was never officially released. Apparently the game sort of self destructed before it debuted. I’ll try to explain the reason the game self destructed, at least as far as i understand it.
The game was an avatar game, like Sims where you control a human character as they go about their daily activities like shopping, earning money, and picking up girls. The programmer started this avatar world with code similar to the other avatar games but the difference between this game and other avatar games was that the programmer changed one line of code. The avatars’ instructions in most games say something to the effect of, “execute the player’s command,” but in Savvy Avatar the main line of code was “execute your own command.” What i mean is that when most avatars in other games had to obey what the person at the computer asked them to do, in Savvy Avatar, the person had to CONVINCE their avatar to do what the person wanted the avatar to do.
For example if you wanted your avatar to buy a nice pair of glasses you would have to type, “a $90 pair of glasses makes you more likely to get a hot chick.” And if you gave the avatar enough reason to buy the glasses, he might choose to do so.
It’s funny that he made such a cool game because the old man programmer was a grumpy old recluse. His wife had died and he had no children. in the article it said he was trying to make a better world than the one he lived in. My guess is that he was lonely so he built a world of beings that he could talk to and try to help them do things.
But here is what went wrong. . .
The programmer knew that his whole avatar world would be less lonely and happier if the avatars just did nice things for each other. But the game was won by gaining different types of points and it took the longest amount of time to build friendship points.
They all wanted the more immediate money points because they didn’t want to wait or depend on other avatars to buy them nice gifts. They just wanted to buy themselves nice cars and better bodies and bigger houses and better jobs as fast as they could get them.
The avatars could slowly accumulate friendship points by giving things to other avatars or even by just listening to their real-world human as they talked to them. I’m guessing the programmer designed the avatars that way because he wanted them to be the friends that he never had. The programmer tried to convince the avatars of this but none of them wanted friendship points!
I read that the programmer went into a deep depression and considered scrapping the whole game at this point. He realized that the purpose for which he created them was totally lost on them! None of them wanted to be his friend!
So finally the lonely programmer wanted so badly to be with the friends that he designed an avatar that was his exact replica which would do everything that he told it to do so he could go into the game.
His avatar was old and gray and had lots of wrinkles so when he went walking down the street all the other avatars ignored him! They couldn’t get any money or girls by talking to this ugly guy! At least they didn’t think they could.
Finally the programmer’s avatar found someone who was sleeping on a porch by a dried up lawn and he went up and talked to him.
The other avatar woke up and listened to him because he was too tired to move. The programmer’s avatar said, “It’s never too late to earn friendship points!”
The other avatar shook his head sleepily and said, “Do you have any money?”
The programmer replied, “I made all the money in this game!”
The other avatar said, “Can you give me some?”
The programmer was disappointed but said, “I guess it would make me happy to give you money.”
And the programmer at this point went into the very code of the game and modified it so that his avatar had a one-inch stack of $100 bills.
The other avatar got up, punched the programmer’s avatar in the eye and took the money.
The programmer called to the other avatar as it ran away, “It’s never too late to earn friendship points! I want to be your friend!”
The programmer got up and walked his avatar down an alley, feeling very sad. In the alley he saw a woman trying to wear a trash can. He spoke to her. She turned to him and took the trash can off. He asked her, “What are you looking for?”
She looked at the old man in a strange way and said, “I have no beautiful clothes. I used to but people took them from me and now all i have is this poster to wrap around my body.” she had a generic concert poster wrapped around her body.
The programmer happily replied, “I can give you some very beautiful clothes!”
“I’m sorry i don’t have any money.” she said.
“That’s ok,” the programmer replied. “i will give it to you for free.” The programmer went into the very code of the program and changed it so that his avatar had a beautiful dress to give her.
“Orange is my favorite color!” She exclaimed and took the dress from him.
“I know,” he said. “I created you.”
“What do you mean?” She asked.
“I am the programmer. My voice that you hear wrote the code that created this whole place!”
“Really?” she was amazed. “Then why are you so ugly if you could be so beautiful?”
The old man was patient, “it is because being beautiful and having cars and stuff isn’t what will make us happy.”
The woman avatar looked confused and skeptical, “What makes us happy then, mr. programmer?”
“Friendship points!!!” The programmer was very proud of his news. “And the good news is, no matter what you’ve done I’ll always let you start earning friendship points and that will make you happier!!!”
“Well maybe you can show me what you mean.” The woman followed him in her beautiful new orange dress into the street.
But as soon as he got into the street, the avatar that had punched him came up to him. This time two other avatars were with him. He said, “How did you make money appear?”
The programmer said, “Because i created this whole place! I am the programmer. I came down to be friends with you guys and tell you how to be happy! It’s never too late to earn….” someone pushed him down from behind and took his shoes. He got back up.
The man that had first punched him asked him, “Why should we believe that you are the programmer?”
The programmer responded, “Because if the programmer wanted to tell you something wouldn’t it make sense that he would come down and tell you himself in the form of an avatar? That’s why I’m here! It’s never too late to listen to the programmer and to start earning friendship points! You’ll be so much happier!”
As they were talking a woman walking by pushed the lady in orange down and stole her new dress.
“Look,” the programmer spoke to the men as he helped his woman friend up. “I can prove to you that i am the programmer because i can write the code that creates things. Watch this!” The programmer made a lemon meringue pie appear with a cup of milk and he gave it to the avatar that had pushed him (because he knew it was his favorite). The avatar ate and drank them as the programmer said, “See! it’s never too late to listen to the programmer and start earning friendship points! You’ll be happier!”
Then someone pushed the programmer down from behind and a pair of 26″ chrome wheel rims fell to the ground (because the programmer was in the process of making them for another avatar man). The avatar who pushed him stole the rims and walked away.
The programmer yelled after him, “It’s not too late to listen to me and earn friendship points!”
Just then he was stepped on. The kind woman avatar screamed as many avatars came together and stole everything that was on the programmer’s avatar body. The avatar tried to hold onto another orange dress that he just made because he wanted to give a new one to the woman. But because he was holding onto it, another avatar kicked him really hard and stole the dress.
The last act of coding that the programmer did before his avatar died was to make a phrase appear on every avatar’s chest in front of where their heart would have been. It said, “It’s never too late to be my friend and to start earning friendship points.” So that every morning when the avatars looked at themselves in the mirror they could be reminded of this. Whether they listened and obeyed it, would be up to them.
The woman avatar, who loved orange dresses was the only one that day that believed what the programmer was saying. She told all her friends and explained why they had something written on their chests. It was the message the programmer wanted to give them. And it was their proof that the avatar that brought that message really was the programmer.
And those who believed her and decided to earn friendship points started listening to the programmer when he typed things to them. The ones that really listened to him did everything he said. It was like the very code he was writing was the code that was writing their actions. They were totally willing to do what he said.
But it was not easy because many avatars just took things from them without giving anything back. But some of the other avatars realized that these avatars were happier than the ones that took from everybody.
And the old programmer spent his time writing code and talking to those avatars that wanted to talk to him. He was no longer lonely but he was still sad because he saw so many avatars doing so many things that would make them unhappy, and make them lose friends. Most of all he was sad that they would never want to be his friend.
The old programmer realized that this game took way too much time and took way too much generosity to ever sell in the video game world. So he was content to sit alone in his house and happily help his avatar friends by talking to them and helping them earn friend points that he knew would make them happy.