It turns out fish are good at lots of things we don’t give them credit for. They’ve been playing Pokemon for awhile now. Now they’re playing Street Fighter. Once you see the simple setup that allows the fish to play video games the mind just explodes with possibilities.
This is like the digital version of cockfighting in some kind of absurdist universe. Two unsuspecting animals are transformed into super-powered digital avatars and forced to beat each other to a pulp for our amusement. If you put this in a movie nobody would find it credible, but reality is more beautiful than fiction. Deliberate actions become abstracted shadows on a stage that gives no feedback and is completely undetectable to the creatures producing the actions.
These piscine warriors reflect our own struggles to understand the full and far reaching consequences of our actions. Their movements are exaggerated to become grand statements of physical prowess, and they are totally unaware. Just as our unmotivated wanderings and tossed off mutterings and declarations sometimes strike others in profound ways we are only dimly aware of, these fish end digital lives with nary a second thought. Perhaps our lives do provide an abstracted entertainment to beings beyond our full understanding. Perhaps we ourselves are avatars controlled through unimaginable interpretive devices by great beings unaware of our existence entirely.
Beside the cosmic quandary of the consequences of our own wanderings sits the wonderful simplicity of the system that allows fish to play video games. Nearly any game with simple controls, and without a great reliance on coordinated movement, can be played by a fish. A game like Super Mario might be interesting in a “watching a million monkeys on a million typewriters produce Shakespeare” kind of way, but fighting games, and simple, menu driven games like Pokemon are ideally suited. Especially because fish have little personality of their own it’s easy to combine them with the character they might be playing to get a kind of confused and lovable dolt just trying to make it through an unfamiliar world. Even the fish throwing digital punches is only using his limited tool set to try and survive a world he doesn’t understand.
I support more fish playing more video games. Set them free. Put this on in sports bars across the country. Let Vegas set odds. I want this to be the new e-sport.