Review #3/Mini Assignment #2: USS Callister

This week’s blog post is a little different. I have invited Nanette Cole, the female protagonist of “USS Callister,” to speak about the story from her perspective. Welcome, Nanette.

Plot

It all started when I accepted a job offer at Callister Inc. as a coder for Infinity, an immersive multiplayer online gaming system. I was ecstatic to work with Robert Daly, the Chief Technology Officer and creator of Infinity, whose work I greatly admired. Although, it didn’t take long before I learned of Daly’s dark side. He had modified his version of Infinity to create a rogue universe, the USS Callister, in which he trapped and tortured digital replicas of people from the office — people who had wronged him in some way. For one of my co-workers, it was because he brought Daly the wrong sandwich. These were not mere copies of their likeness, they were the consciousness of each person that he had harvested from their DNA. However, Daly’s biggest mistake was putting me in the game because I refuse to be toyed with. So, with the help of my crewmates, I devised a plan to hack the system and erase our existence from the game.

Message

The internet and video games provide people with the opportunity to express themselves more openly. I learned about this from John Suler’s CyberPsychology and Behavior (2004). Essentially, people do things that they wouldn’t normally do in the real world because online, they can be anonymous and invisible. This can lead to benevolence and self-exploration, or malevolence and self-destruction. In Daly’s case, he behaves as a tyrant would in the game because he thinks that no one outside of his enclosed bubble universe will know. This also exemplifies how people misuse technology to perform immoral and unethical deeds. Daly needs psychological treatment, but instead, he seeks to escape his real world problems through gaming as a means of catharsis. People who do so pose a threat to themselves and the people around them.

Characters

My first impression of Daly was that he was a kind, socially awkward person. I didn’t understand why my co-workers weren’t fond of him because he rarely interacted with them; he always kept to himself in his office like an outcast. The CEO once criticized Daly for being meek, but I thought he was a vast improvement from my previous toxic boss. However, after he stole my DNA to make me his plaything, I realized that his game-identity was an extension of his true self — a sociopath. The USS Callister was Daly’s playground where he abused my co-workers and me, physically and emotionally, into submission. I would’ve empathized with him and his social situation if he didn’t steal our DNA, trap us in a video game, and torment us without remorse.

Direction

Not to toot my own horn but, I’m the cause of Daly’s downfall. Funnily enough, I’m glad he put me in the game because by doing so, he inadvertently allowed me to kick his virtual a**. He thought I was one of those mini-skirted damsels from his favorite outdated, misogynistic TV show, so I taught him a lesson about how not to underestimate women. I didn’t accomplish this alone, it took a lot of trust and teamwork to defeat Daly, who, in the end, got his comeuppance. I sometimes think about what it would be like if we had gotten him the help he needed to reform his wicked ways, but it was risky, and it wasn’t a risk we were willing to take.

Entertainment Value

If this were a TV show, I’d give it a try. It’s not my usual cup of tea, but objectively speaking, it’s a thrilling adventure story with a strong female lead character, which is a plus. If you are a fan of Space Fleet (Star Trek), like Daly, you would enjoy this. After taking all of these factors into consideration, I rate “USS Callister” 4.5/5 stars.

Essential Question

After reading this review, consider the following: is technology a problem in and of itself, or is it the people who design and use it, or is it both?

What do you think of “USS Callister”? Leave a comment below!

Work Cited
Suler, J. (2004). The Online Disinhibition Effect. Cyberpsychology & behavior 7.3 (2004): 321-326. Retrieved January 31, 2021, from http://truecenterpublishing.com/psycyber/disinhibit.html

Cover Photo: screencap of “USS Callister”

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