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Independency: Identity: What You Do is Completely Up to You

By Shannon Doyle on January 27, 2015 | Columns | Comments

Identity: What You Do is Completely Up to You

Right now there’s an MMO on Kickstarter that got modest media attention when the campaign first launched but has since fallen out of the limelight. It’s an ambitious project that has the attention of a lot of sandbox MMO fans. Identity is the name of the game, and what you do in it is completely up to you. It’s an indie game that is taking the sand out of the sandbox to sculpt something new. In Identity you will have complete freedom. If life were an MMO that MMO would be called Identity. For those who don’t know it may seem like the creators of Identity, Asylum Entertainment came out of nowhere, but in fact they have a lot of experience with the modern sandbox game. Asylum Entertainment is to this point best known for their Arma III mod Asylum’s Altis Life.

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Their mod serves as the inspiration for Identity. It is an open world experience with laser tag, shanty towns, police, and even gas stations. If you’ve already seen the trailer for Identity this may be sounding a little bit familiar. They pride themselves on giving players the ability to do anything. Though, just like in real life there are consequences for your actions. And you could find yourself in court.

The basics of Identity’s history sounds much like Dean Hall’s DayZ mod which is now on its way to becoming a standalone game. With the announcement just recently that three million people have bought the game which isn’t even out of Early Access yet DayZ is, at least financially speaking a success. DayZ started life as an Arma II mod, the inspiration for Identity is an Arma III mod. But I think that’s where the similarities end.

The makers of Identity have this very clear idea of what they think a truly free game should be. I hesitate to even call Identity a game. It doesn’t really have any structure, there are no quests, you do what you want. To me this is more like a world of its own rather than a game, a second life if you will. They strengthen this idea of it being another life you’re living with the use of VOIP technology. So when your character speaks it isn’t in text, it isn’t a voice actor, it is your actual voice that others will hear. To that end there are going to be karaoke bars where you can go with friends. From laptops you can watch what basically amounts to The Truman Show with live streams of other players. Even going to the movies is something you can do, though in the cinema they will show actual movies you can watch with your friends. Not real enough yet? How about buying houses and becoming a landlord? Or living in an apartment you have to pay another player to rent out? These things will all be possible in Identity.

The more I learn about Identity the more convinced I am that Asylum is creating a virtual world. It’s so much more than just a game. The beautiful thing is I can already see so many practical applications for Identity.

For the long distance lovers you’ll be able to sit in a cinema and watch movies with the person you love from opposite sides of the world. An opportunity to be closer to your significant other that is normally reserved for those short times you get together, or when you finally close the gap.

For sick and injured stuck on bed rest it gives them the opportunity to still feel like they’re part of society. They can still hang out with their friends, assuming they play, or make new friends who could live anywhere in the world. Agoraphobia, PTSD…the mental health benefits for Identity are endless.

And yet, at the same time there is a part of me that knows Identity will get abused. People will withdraw from the real world into this fantasy one where they can be and do anything they want. It would be so easy, and so tempting. Forget about your problems, go to your second life.

But an even bigger part of me wonders, what’s the point? If you want to go to karaoke with your friends…go to karaoke with your friends. If you want to see a movie, go see a movie. Is Identity too much like real life for its own good? Can you take the fantasy aspect out of a game and have it still be successful? I’m not talking about Elves and magic fantasy but instead the thing in games that makes them not quite real life. If you want to be a police officer, go be a police officer, make your dream a reality in the real world, not in a virtual one.

No matter which side you stand on Identity is very interesting for the technology and ideas coming from it. It is just another step closer to the holodeck future of our dreams. Does the idea of such an open world appeal to you? Identity will be on Kickstarter for just one more week and with a goal of just $150,000. For such an ambitious and large project this simply doesn’t seem like enough. They’re already half way to their goal. The campaign ends on Wednesday February 4th so if Identity sounds good to you check out the campaign soon.