The Matrix Online ended this week. After a run of about 4 years, Sony decided to finish it off with an apocalypse. Players were invited back to see the end as the game graphics changed to show the world falling apart and supernatural beings arriving to clean up.
Tabula Rasa ended similarly not too long ago. Rather than slowly (or quickly) merging the servers and watching the community shrink to just the dedicated few who straggle on forever and continue to scoff at anyone who plays a new (easier) game, Tabula Rasa and the Matrix Online celebrated the end with clearly defined closure.
But now what happens? What about the identites created in these worlds?
When Massively first announced the closure, comments began to surface lamenting the demise. One in particular commented that even though the game was far from perfect, he would miss being able to simply “jack in” and run around.
Few forms of entertainment disappear entirely. Old games, movies, and music can just be downloaded. Maybe we can’t see or play them in the original context, and maybe we can’t recreate the original experience they once gave us, but we can still visit them anytime we wish.
An online game, however, is gone. Dead. The being that we were there is also gone and dead except in our memory. There’s nowhere for them to live anymore except in some kind of cyberspace afterlife where stories are told and experiences narrated. Perhaps in the death of a world and its identities, the book of fiction they create can be closed.
But I don’t know that we want that. Is it the point to finish the story? Part of what is so great about this form of interactive storytelling is that it’s alive and continually telling.