The intricacies and online infrastructure for Halo are absolutely astounding. A few guys in my suite pointed this out to me, and my thoughts immediately leapt to postmodernism, probably to simulacra and simulation in particular, but to overarching narratives (hmm "incidental commonalities" might be a less loaded phrase) of pm in general.
What wowed me in particular is the way in Halo, like Everquest and other games that are explicitly marketed as insular worlds, is an insular world. Say you're playing Halo 3 on your Xbox, against other gamers, online. You could do a pretty interesting pm unpacking here--invisible people, violent avatars, they could be from anywhere in the world, they might not speak English, no one knows anyone but everyone knows there's a person behind the pixels being killing spree-ed into oblivion--but what I'm interested in for the moment is the archival treatment this gameplay gets online.
After playing, you can review the film of the match, from the perspective of any player, and each of those from Â°360, at any speed. You can pause, record, or take still frames, and whatever you decide to save gets uploaded to the Halo website (you have to register a player profile w/ personal info in order to play online). In addition, the site tracks every match you're ever played, every conceivable detail, and all of this information is public domain.
For example, go to http://www.bungie.net/default.aspx. Put the cursor over "My Stats" and click on "find a player". On the ensuing screen type "greensmurf30" into the search window at right. You get the player profile for Mr. greensmurf, a friend of mine, and his (oops) game history. Click on that for a complete breakdown of all 237 games (and counting; note that this is just since his registration on 10/18/07), including the usual details, like how many kills, to the miniscule and arcane: click on game viewer, and then on a player from the left hand menu to see the precise location of that player on the map at times when he/she made a kill and was killed, who she killed and was killed by, and where the killed and killer stood in relation to this player.
It's a totally comprehensive, 100% archived digital universe. I also heard this evening about a man who has allied himself with google to make his entire life a digitized and searchable archive. He walks around with a camera and a voice recorder, photographing and recording everything he does. Truman show, much? But searchable--my friend/informant did not know anything more about the project, does anyone else?
Simulacra, cognitive maps, totalizing projects, participating in user communities that belie underlying profit motives--anyone have any other thoughts or intersections to point out? Where does art figure into this?