“A thing of random human accretion, monstrous and superb”

Idoru is a return to William Gibson’s stylish preoccupation with dense cityscapes, something that had been set aside in favor of the chaotic earthiness of the shantytown of The Bridge in Virtual Light. The novel is set in a near-future Tokyo, which has been partially reconstructed via nanotechnology following a massive earthquake. One of the most engaging elements of Gibson’s fiction has always been a sense of atmosphere, and his affection for Tokyo manifests through the constantly-shifting backdrop of bars, hotels, arcades and general streetlife of the deeply-urbanized megacity.
Tokyo itself has a reputation for being something of an aesthetic science fiction wonderland. By capturing some of its natural strangeness, Gibson is able to use it as an exploration of his most commonly-recurring theme: the unexpected ways that ideas develop or are adapted into completely new phenomena. Throughout Idoru we have, for example, one bar which preserves the post-apocalyptic atmosphere of the city post-quake and another, Kafka-themed, complete with insectile bar stools and bruised inmate waitresses. Tokyo itself, its new buildings “grown” out of the rubble of the old through nanotechnology, is itself a metaphor for the ways that modernity re-appropriates and recontextualizes original meanings. Modern life is not directed; it simply grows, often in complex and unintended directions. Society and technology do not meld seamlessly; they tangle into each other and emerge like some sort of Cronenbergian mutant.
The plot of Idoru concerns rumors that Rez, an aging rock star, wishes to marry Rei Toei, a Japanese virtual idol – the titular Idoru, a megacelebrity singer that is entirely a software construct. Rei inhabits the virtual world, drawing experience from the well of all available human information. This, the novel implies, allows Rei to remain relevant, to analyze the currents and patterns of human culture and so maintain celebrity indefinitely. The marriage of Rez and Rei Toei is a bridging between the abstract density of data and the singular experience of wealth and celebrity leading towards some new creation: an organic personification of all available human experience. “Popular culture … is the testbed of our futurity,” Rei’s human handlers explain. “If there were going to be genuine AI, the argument ran, it was most likely to evolve in ways that had least to do with pretending to be human … AI might be created accidentally, and … people might not initially recognize it for what it was.” The post-modern suggestion, here, is that in creating a believable celebrity, the software engineers have inadvertently created something which by necessity has become organic, conscious life.
It’s impossible to talk about Gibson’s work without also addressing the moments of prescience within. Gibson himself points out that his moments of imaginative creation were meant to address what he himself observed in the increasingly fracturing modern world. Yet at the center of the novel lies the Walled City – a distributed virtual environment modeled after Kowloon Walled City which functions as a sort of off-the-grid hacker commune. It is the digital equivalent of The Bridge – a virtual deadzone re-appropriated by the computing underground. Gone completely, here, is the romance of Neuromancer‘s hacker community; Walled City is a community not of criminals but one defined by its independence, its removal from corporate powers of influence. It’s a prophetic examination of emerging issues of internet neutrality, a sort of virtual micronation, and eventually the only place within which the Idoru, Rei, is free to realize total organic growth.

“Something amorphous, startlingly organic;” Virtual Light

Virtual Light is, in many ways, the first really singular work of William Gibson, having broken with the romantic futurist stylings of his earlier novels while introducing recognizably modern weirdnesses into his fiction. Instead of the vast cityscapes of Neuromancer, we have a slum built atop an unstable Bay Bridge. We have out-of-work rentacops and bicycle messengers instead of hackers and street mercenaries. Gibson has stated that his move away from the high-tech “cyberpunk” motifs of his earlier novels was necessary in order to examine the pervasive weirdness already happening outside his window. Virtual Light, as such, is set in a then-slightly-in-the-future California, which has bifurcated into two very different states. The glimpses we have of America reveal a society fracturing into creative weirdnesses: a religious cult that studies television, immigrant homicide detectives hired to counter their own national mafias, high-end retail shops that sell antique Southern racist memorabilia to wealthy South Central minorities with a sense of irony. The dystopia of the novel is one of class and economics – the middle class has liquified and the street has since found its own use for an abandoned Bay Bridge as a shantytown for the city’s homeless. Virtual Light contains the familiar downtrodden bottom-class on the edge of dystopia but, instead of the high-tech nightlands of Neuromancer, the residents of The Bridge operate coffee shops and booksellers. They recycle water and trade goods and services. They get by, and there’s a sense – for once, amidst all of fiction’s dystopic predictions – that maybe this is not such a bad thing.

The Bridge is a patchwork of improvisation. It’s organic and unplanned, teeming with the warmth of human adaptation. Every addition and modification of the structure resounds with its creators’ personalities. It contrasts the rigid, grid-like world of San Francisco’s commercial sector. The plot of the novel concerns plans for a city-wide transformation into the sort of towering, sterile corporate arcology typical to something from Neuromancer. Gibson’s first three novels, the Sprawl trilogy, depicted enormous urbanized environments as large beyond reason, defined by their anonymous massiveness, but it does not seem to comment as to whether or not this is necessarily bad for the human condition (though we can infer, on our own, the significance of the Sprawl’s obsession with wealth, its teeming criminal underground, the high human price of technology). Yet in Virtual Light, Gibson clearly has affection for the underclass resisting that kind of assimilation and urbanization. The Bridge is the only community in the novel truly connected with itself, a self-sustained ecosystem in which services are traded and in which a police force does not exist. The horror of the novel’s re-development plan is that the new city, which will “just grow” via nanotechnology, is completely planned and compartmentalized, unfeeling and indifferent. It is data and corporate commerce and not a human city at all.

William Gibson has stated that Virtual Light is “an attempt at literary naturalism” and that the two protagonists are “more like most people than most people are like those console cowboys and razor girls in Neuromancer”. Appropriately, both Chevette and Rydell spend the novel worrying about their jobs. Chevette is a bicycle messenger who doesn’t live well, but the opportunity of the job itself is enough. Rydell has gone through stints as a police officer and with private security but, not being good at anything in particular, is now considering a position in retail. Tellingly, this is in contrast to Neuromancer‘s cyber-criminals and high-tech mercenaries. In a novel concerned with the organic warmth of human habitation, the characters here are sympathetic non-cartoons, and we feel through them the alien-ness of these information-dense, wealth-saturated and abstract ideals of high corporate commerce, worried as they are with getting by. They cannot afford ideology. The sentiment, here, is that actual human beings are too busy with day-to-day life to worry about artificial intelligences and information systems so prevalent to Gibson’s science fiction works.

Personally, I’ve been living on the move for the past year. I have no set residence, no long-term employment. Nothing is certain and, in a way, it’s liberating; I can discard all the superfluous economic dressing of the suburban past. But the romance of backpacking can never completely remove any worries I have about what will happen when I have to go back. What will happen when I have no choice but to return to a society that is rapidly destabilizing? I recently found Virtual Light to be newly relevant (I had always preferred the stylish Idoru), centered as it is on The Bridge as a self-sustaining near-utopia bereft of ideals but instead a place of practical, communal beauty. I think that The Bridge approaches the thematic core of Gibson’s work, which are the surprising intersections between ideal and reality. The Bridge is a place “around [which] had grown another reality, intent upon its own agenda. This had occurred piecemeal, to not set plan, employing every imaginable technique and material. The result was something amorphous, startlingly organic.” It’s fictional ancestor, after all, is the antique space station inhabited by Rastafarians, refitted with hydroponics and stereo speakers in Neuromancer. Gibson is something of a post-modern author because all of his works address the dissonance between an ideal as something abstract and distant, and reality, which appropriates meaning for functional practicality and, in doing so, creates new meanings. As much as he hates the “cyberpunk” label, the “-punk” suffix is appropriate, since his works actively resist the urbanization or plasticization of human experience and the gentrification of beautiful, human spontaneity. Science fiction may have been the most efficient vehicle for exploring these strange dichotomies, but there remains an underlying human tenderness in Gibson’s novels as they explore the unexpected ways that cultures develop and adapt around the material intrusions of modern life. “San Francisco has about much sense of where it wants to go, of where it should go, as you do. Which is to say, very little,” Virtual Light’s antagonist states; but this is fine. The idea of life is to end up in unexpected places.

The Whole Adventure

When they ask him, later, what he got out of the whole adventure, he’ll have to take a moment to think. He’ll have to run a very brief mental calculation wholly inadequate to distill and sort and summarize the varieties of experience of the past year into something that can be singularly and concisely communicated. And during that moment, the things that will flash by:

He’ll remember the initial unknowing vastness of the impossibility of having to organize long-term travel, simultaneous with a recollection of the feeling that it was possible to be anywhere and everywhere;

He’ll remember sleeping in a car in the woods or on the side of the road, or in a dorm-room shared with upwards of a dozen other people, or in a musty shack on a bed slanting with the entire termite-rotted floor at an angle downward, and in every case wishing that he didn’t have to sleep at all in order to avoid these places while having no problem finally dropping off to sleep;

He’ll remember that dinner every other night was the kind of instant ramen that you’d boil in its own cup, the way those dehydrated vegetables would always form a canopy floating at the top of the cloudy hot water, and the feeling afterward that the noodles did not actually exist beyond some chemical illusion to trick your stomach into feeling full on the digesting foam of the noodles plus a few calories;

He’ll remember sitting on a beach, staring at the stillness of the far pale horizon and feeling that time was no longer progressing onward. He’ll remember this as a slowly-dawning dread because, despite the beauty of the landscape, its persistence signified his long-term isolation there;

Likewise, he’ll remember the comforting stillness of the soft, damp grass in a small park space in the middle of a teeming metropolis and the ways in which it made him miss parks back home in the early summer and the eventual sad longing when these parks became the only place he had to get away from the sheer human density the city;

He’ll recall, in general, the unexpected ways that new moments and places only drug fourth sentimental memories of those first experiences of freedom;

How he somehow longed for memories of a simpler life defined by lack of opportunity;

The ways it made him regret having spent those early years of adulthood in school;

The anticipation of the kind of reckless partying he never got into in school;

The nightmare of physical nausea brought on by the kind of things long-term travellers drink;

The subsequent realization that drinking too much is the same experience anywhere in the world;

The recurring ironies of living in a different country to escape a perceived obsession with materialism only to be terrified of not having enough money the entire time;

The sad desire to meet and share experiences with other travelers and so gain some insight into the illuminating wisdom of living outside of a comfortable established life path, but being unable to work up the courage;

The feeling of sitting alone in a packed dining room, reading a book amidst the babble of conversations in a half-dozen languages, sadly resigned to the fact that he had nothing in common with these other wanderers at the dawn of adulthood united by their carefree detachment from worry and consequence, and the feeling of being resentful of how easily it seemed that they had it;

The final ironic resignation to wanting to spend all of his time on this life-changing journey by disappearing into a book, thus avoiding the mental preoccupation and worry and doubt and bitter self-effacement;

And he’ll remember finally having enough time to sit down and think about the possibilities of life, and that sudden yearning to learn many and new things, finally getting into a habit of spending time writing, being able to shut out distraction, being able to disregard easy satisfaction and gratification, finally knowing for certain how he’d like to write for the rest of his life and finally being able to frame his thoughts in a constructive fashion.

All of this will overlap and intersect and intermingle in the brief moments that he considers what these experiences – this adventure – was all “about”. Maybe he’ll try to explain the fact that there is no inherent meaning behind anything, no linear existential narrative. He’ll be unable to conjure any single phrase, any single sentiment, which explains the range of feelings and experiences that’ve transpired. He’ll find himself having to worry about fulfilling the expectations of what his friends imagine an adventure is all about without sounding ungrateful or unappreciative while admitting to himself that overt cheerfulness will betray the inherent multi-faceted complexity of the whole thing. So in the end he might not have any answer at all, because the difficulties and the joys and the unexpected pleasures and realizations all work on some unconscious level as impossible to describe as the essences that make up a person to begin with.

“An architecture of broken dreams”: Burning Chrome and the Gibson Marathon

Since the backpacking lifestyle doesn’t involve work or any major responsibilities, I took it upon myself to get ahold of all of William Gibson’s work with the idea that I would read it all through, in chronological order. I finished the first three books – the Sprawl trilogy – and, unsurprisingly, got worn out of the idea and went looking for something else to read. I’d read those first three novels maybe three or four times now, and I think that I’ve gotten everything out of them that I ever will. Neuromancer is always great, because it doesn’t really sound like a science fiction novel sounded up to that point – you can hear how much of the paranoid 70’s counterculture Gibson had taken in by then (and he cites Robert Stone’s excellent Dog Soldiers, specifically, when talking about major influences).

Gibson  admits that he had not been ready to write an entire novel when he wrote Neuromancer, but he got it to work. Upon reading Count Zero, the follow-up, it almost feels like he got lucky the first time out. Not much about this novel still interests me. Enough has been said about how well Neuromancer described the increasing presence of technology and the looming influence of corporations in the 1980’s, but I feel that Count Zero not only brought nothing new to the table, it also fell victim to all of the cliche trappings of the cyberpunk genre. And even if cyberpunk hadn’t yet calcified into a silly catalogue of genre conventions by the time of Count Zero‘s publication, this novel certainly lays them out: the primary antagonist is a corporate head who has become so wealthy that he lives in a suspended state of undeath, and his wealth has become so immense that he himself exists as an abstract corporate idea.

I mean, to be fair, there are a few things here that are still interesting: Marly, the art dealer, is an unusual character to find in a science fiction novel, and the idea of the authenticity of art in an increasingly artificial world is an under-appreciated idea. But I think that this was easy for Gibson, who finds this sort of thing more interesting (thankfully) than being “a science fiction writer.” I think that the success of Neuromancer was so surprising that Gibson got caught up with it and wrote a novel that, at least in part, he consciously thought would build on the successful science-fiction elements of the the novel, because he still had those doubts about his own ability. Mona Lisa Overdrive was an improvement, but it still doesn’t grab me like it used to.

I think that I took a month-long break because it was the first time that I realized that these novels, which have been my favorites since those teenage years in which I discovered good science fiction, could actually be flawed. Which is something that we eventually realize with everything; you can never go back to that feeling of being totally swept up in the discovery of something. I remember the following three novels – the Bridge trilogy – as being those which really exhibit Gibsons’ strengths describing the shifting weirdness of modern life without the sci-fi dressing.

I wanted to go back to Burning Chrome before moving on. I think that I passed over this collection of short stories because they lacked the polish of his more refined novels (while I know that some of these stories were written earlier than the novels, I’m a little rough on the order of most of them). And I really like most of them, this time around. Fragments of a Hologram Rose is pretty forgettable, as is Johnny Mnemonic, which everyone likes to remember how horrible its movie adaptation was.

The central draw, here, is The Gernsback Continuum. It’s atypical, as it isn’t a stylized science-fiction story – it’s set in the early-80’s – but it’s the ur-Gibson work, as well as a mission statement of sorts. The story is about a photographer locating leftover ‘raygun gothic’ architecture – the 1930s’ shiny-metal-rocketcars and cloud-cities aesthetic that represents a pre-war obsession with a future that would never happen.  They’re a “dreamworld, abandoned in the uncaring present” – these relics are always found in worn-out strip malls, obsolete and forgotten. The photographer eventually hallucinates entire cities and cars, in the distance, having somehow tapped into the psychic residue, “semiotic phantoms” of a past “mass unconscious”.

This is the central theme, I think, of all of Gibson’s work: the distance between preoccupations with an idealized future and the unexpected realities of a present which contains all these stratified layers of ‘past futures’, stacked up all around us. The American visual landscape is littered with the physical remnants of what everyone wanted the future to look like at any given time. Fashion and design trends exist as aesthetics of an ideal being projected into the future which only reflect the culture from which that aesthetic originates. When cyberpunk became a fashion subculture it became the best example of this process: it attempted to describe the near future of dense urban environments, completely buried by technology and information commerce. But it looks and feels exactly like the future only if the 80’s never ended. It’s a future of omnipresent VHS decks and floppy disks, and it missed the point of an information society because it inevitably focused on window dressing.

The past decade of William Gibson’s fiction has been pointedly non-science-fiction because, he maintains, the present day has become so strange and unpredictable and develops in such interesting ways that it is now useless try to describe what the future may look like. It is useful only to describe this post-modern feeling that there is no inherent meaning, no predestined future ideal, towards which society progresses. This is all anticipated in The Gernsback Continuum; that raygun gothic style, that longing for a future of shark-finned tube-cars and crystal city spires, becomes grotesque as an aesthetic ideology which failed to anticipate the horrors of the Second World War, or Vietnam, or of the meaningless modern age. To the story’s main character, who has been through the roller coaster of the counterculture and the cynicism of the 70’s, these apparitions – these realizations of a past-future fantasy – are more terrifying than an uncertain reality. Because, I think, a designed future – a reality designed by idealists of the past – is the worst kind of predestination; it is one that has no relation to the circumstances of reality. It is the opposite of the modern world that Gibson describes as having no inherent meaning, no linear connection of cause and effect.

It’s easy to forget that the ‘punk’ suffix of cyberpunk did once have a practical meaning. Gibson and that generation of writers rejected the romantic sentimentality and moral polarities of Heinlein and Asimov, who represented the ideological exceptionalism of the industrialists that were eventually responsible for Vietnam. Cyberpunk was a protest which took inspiration from Dick and Delaney and Ballard and adopted their experimental forms of science fiction to address the fragmented and hallucinatory substance of reality.

Golden Age-era science fiction has this notion that the future looks shiny and new and that everything is clean surfaces, a-la 2001. But the central subversion in Gibson’s work is that there is always this fascination with old architecture and antiques, the ghostly remnants of the past – and junk. Gibson famously said, in this collection, that the ‘street finds its own uses for things’ and that nothing, in the stylized future, is still used for its original purpose.

I think that The Gernsback Continuum, while adopting that same attitude of rejecting the Golden Age of Science Fiction’s disconnected optimism, was an instinctive early moving-away from typical science fiction form. It’s a subversive move away from an already subversive form, and it’s the strongest piece in the collection. I really enjoy Hinterlands and The Winter Market in a way that I enjoy really human science fiction stories, but I think that if Gibson’s entire career sprung from those stories alone, we wouldn’t be talking about him today. Gernsback is the moment that we realize, from a historical perspective, why Gibson became so important, and not just a genre pioneer. There’s a strength to a science fiction writer that can cover the same territory without having to write science fiction.

An argument for video games

I enjoy playing video games because they allow me to experience stories that are a consequence of my own actions and decisions. On the most basic level, a video game provides the player with systems of rules which dictate how the game world works, and allows the player to heuristically interact with the game world. If the mechanics and game world are complex enough, a story sort of emerges as a result of player action without a narrative presence dictating how or what is happening. The most satisfying video game stories come from the interplay of player action and consequence.

SimCity, for example, lays out the needs of a population and provides a budget within which the player is tasked with satisfying those needs. Every city becomes a story not because the game tells you that you’re doing a good or bad job; the stories emerge from the ways that players solve certain problems or overcome certain obstacles which arise naturally from decisions that they make. I was the mayor of a city struck by an earthquake during an early stage of expansion, and the elation of triumph came as I was able to manage emergency services and maintain infrastructure so that industry and commerce could continue to provide funds with which I cleaned up and repopulated destroyed city blocks. I felt good because I had used mechanics provided and mastered the rules of the game, not because a window appeared to tell me that I had done a good job.

An extreme end of the spectrum is Dwarf Fortress, which is almost entirely a game that consists of very detailed systems and sets of rules. You are given individual game pieces (the dwarves) which have certain sets of skills; the player directs those pieces to use their skills and interact with the game world. The game throws challenges at the player, such as vampires or goblin armies or famine, and the player must use their resources to overcome these challenges – but the game does not dictate in any way that one method should be used over another. Here, the stories arise from the ways in which players use logic and imagination to solve problems and maintain a society of individuals, each of which have their own needs and emotions. Players have stories about frenzied, discontent dwarves that threw society into upheaval; they have stories about the mechanisms built around fortresses to repel invasion, and the unexpected management disasters that occur when these mechanisms or social systems operate unexpectedly.

This is every story: that unexpected challenges happen upon an individual, and that individual tries to deal with things as befits their personality. And in doing so, they learn something about themselves. Movies and books have been known to be able to do this pretty well, and maybe video games could do it more consistently if it was really a priority. But do they need to? Video games are, really, the only powerful ‘unauthored’ medium. It is the only medium capable of generating memorable fictions within the mind of the player as a reward for imparting some of their own imagination and personality into the problem-challenges of the game world. Personally involving the audience is always the best way of communicating a moving story, and video games should be more interested in just taking their hands off and letting the player get so knee-deep in the game mechanics that they cannot remove themselves from the progression of the game since they are now the main character.

I spend almost all of the time that I involve with video games bemoaning the fact that there isn’t better writing or storytelling in these things. I enjoyed the Metal Gear Solids almost more than anything else, but this is probably just because the games are so absolutely insistent on the consistency of its idiosyncratic weirdness – an extremely, defiantly “authored” experience, but an extreme example nonetheless and unlikely to ever happen again. Maybe video games should look into dropping the pretense of narrative progression altogether (again, since they only seem to want to emulate the lowest-class action-thriller and horror genre conventions, anyway). Maybe video games should think about running completely wild by focusing on the mechanical complexity of their games, since this is going to be the means with which we get engaged anyway – I sit down with these things because I’m interested in learning logic skillsets, and not because I’m interested in guiding a faceless non-character between Michael Bay-esque cutscenes anyway, right? Go crazy with the mechanical consistency of video games, and focus the writing on creating a living universe that we’d ever care to engage with. “Flavor” the settings and mechanics of the game so that we would have some personal compulsion to actually feel one way or another about the things that we’re doing or problems that we’re solving in these things. Don’t write any more of these epic ‘saving the world from ancient evils’ things that we’re so saturated with. No one is ever surprised by how those things end. Just paint me the landscape and populate it with living things and let me experience something based on how I feel when I can change the world.

A few notes on Jedi Knight

Jedi Knight is a video game that predates the modern era of first person shooters’ preoccupation with realistic or rational settings. The first level, for example, is set in some sort of dense spaceport docking station, because this provides the video game with a reason to force you along narrow ledges, running along moving cranes or scaling tiny ramps that scaffold an empty shaft that spirals down into nothingness. Most of the levels are essentially challenges of vertical traversal; there’s the spaceport, there’s a refueling station, there’s a level that only involves scuttling along narrow ledges on the exterior of this immense tower and along elevator shafts. What I remember best about this game is a joyous feeling of vertigo, staring down into these vast empty spaces.

This game came out the year after Quake, and I think that developers were finally allowed to enjoy the possibilities of video game environments. They were capable of handling anything more complex than the traditional constructions of corridors connecting larger rooms full of enemies. So they went nuts and actually thought about the architecture of these worlds as more than monster-containers. Quake was the real champion of this new capability of design, since it had so much fun with an abstract design philosophy carried over from the bizarre days of Doom. The walls and floors of levels became shifting platforms, transforming into new constructions; a pool of water might open to a small room with a low ceiling, but a button on the wall would split the ceiling, which then became the floor of a much larger room above.

I’m interested in what these games did with architecture because the environments themselves are a more effective communication of my progress. The shifting platforms of Quake are the moving pieces of a mysterious puzzle that invite me to explore through the revealing of its constituent parts. It’s a successful design because the desire to find the exit to a level is subconscious. And I find it more satisfying than modern first-person shooters, which have reverted to a philosophy of single rooms, connected by corridors, which contain enemies. Except that now the single rooms have become “realistic” set-pieces which exist to deliver waves of bad guys I’m supposed to kill, and I only know that I’m doing it right when I reach a checkpoint and the game tasks me with some other objective. The design of the world itself has ceased to become part of the challenge. The levels no longer want to kill you.

Both Jedi Knight (and Quake) were successfully designed because the architecture of their worlds promoted a very free sense of movement. They understood the absolute value of fluid kinetic movement in a game with a first-person perspective. My character moves like he’s on a skateboard. Jedi Knight is a sort of Super Mario Bros analogue in which the challenge sometimes involves having the discipline to not hold down the ‘run’ button all the time, lest you throw yourself to your death. Much of the game involves leaping from precarious heights, but bile does not rise in my throat the same way that it would during “platformer sequences” in other games since I’m never making unlikely jumps because, I think, Jedi Knight just wants me to have a good time and feel like I’m an accomplished Jedi adventurer, rather than punish me with arbitrary challenges of movement. There is even a Force power dedicated to jumping.

Jedi Knight is successful as a video game because it is a game foremost concerned with the mechanics of a good first-person shooter rather than a game that must self-referentially flaunt its Star Wars license. It’s the story of a man understanding his own powers and avenging the death of his father and it happens to contain Stormtroopers and lightsabers as decoration for the satisfying feeling of using magical powers to push enemies off of cliffs. The story involves saving the galaxy, but for once it resists shoving a billion space ships and armies on the screen to make us feel like we’re involved in some epic struggle. The lightsaber mechanics themselves are badly dated and feel clumsy, unsatisfying, but the game doesn’t force me to use it so that I get The Guaranteed Jedi Experience. If I want to run around with the basic blaster rifle, then the game says – so be it.