Capital Obsolescence by Anderson Evans

“Yes I understand, I’ll say it again…We want to sell you a system, sir.”
“A system? What kind of system, a system for what, tell me what it is and what does it do? My time is too valuable for this.”
“It passes us into the Uncanny Valley, that’s what it does. It gives illustration to the rise of the simulacra, proof-of-production. That’s what it is.”
“That doesn’t sound like it can draw me a profit, I’m asking for this year’s profits off the edges, and the investments? Where does that money go to?”
“Of course, that is what I said when I walked in, we have profits of over seven million dollars, we’ve invested nothing, well, nine-hundred dollars on a backup rig connected to a Sega Genesis, ready to intervene with emulation for when the original hardware has to be shutdown for maintenance. The company is…”
“But you are valuating yourselves at two million dollars, these numbers don’t add up. You are talking about hardware that has been obsolete since the twentieth century.”
“You aren’t listening…”
“Is retro really that in? You have what manufacturing cost? Have you been to any trade shows? Wait, let me get back to the original idea… profits, do you yourself draw a salary?”
“I have to pay my monthly power bill, wait hold on, I mean, salary? Sir, you’ve never met a man as rich as I am. That isn’t what this is about. Our valuation is based on the fact that no one will touch us, not after they hear the story, not anymore. I didn’t think this needed to be explained.”
“I know what he’s talking about.”
“Well, then Stewart, enlighten the tank.”
“I think I just heard this cow moo, har har.”
“Stop, I’m not gonna give you what you are asking for, but I’ll give you one million for an absolute zero stake in your company. No questions asked. This is a loan, you will pay me one hundred dollars for every unit sold…”
“There are no units the product is…”
“Let me finish! I will pay you the one million dollars, and for every unit you sell you pay me ten dollars for every unit sold until I recoup my investment. After that you wash your hands of me.”
“Jack, you look like a fool. Have you guys really not heard the story? The Mac and Me glitch? He’s trying to sell us a system, a system that produces nothing.”
“That isn’t quite true, it isn’t that it produces nothing.”
“Yes it is, you’re Goddamn right it is. I’m out.”
“Thank you… As I was saying, it doesn’t produce nothing, and it isn’t a glitch, it is software, the most powerful software ever created, just because it was created by accident doesn’t mean it is a glitch. It is pure profit! It cannot be stopped!”
“Easy, easy there. So Stewart, let me get this right, this guy has a machine that makes an ever growing profit…”
“Software!”
“…this guy has software that makes an ever growing profit that produces nothing? Sir, you say it does produce something, do tell, what does it produce.”
“Mac and Me for Sega Genesis. It uses the SCUMM Engine as modified for Sega Genesis systems, cutting edge user interface during time of production…point and click mechanics and dynamic commands. In the game you guide wheelchair-bound Eric Cruise, along with his extraterrestrial, referred to as ‘Mac’ (that’s ‘Mysterious Alien Creature’) around a dangerous government base. The boys are trying to find Mac’s spacecraft so that he can be reunited with his family. No game has ever had so much invested in it, and no video game has ever seen as significant return.”
“That’s hogwash!”
“It isn’t. It isn’t hogwash, we make more money every damn year. Every damn year since August 12, 1992, the date Mac and Me 2: Searchers was slated for a Mac and Me 1 Anniversary Release.”
“The movie never came out! They cancelled the project after the first straight-to-video POS went to the video stores and bargain shelves. The thought that the Sega Genesis game would even be considered for production, it’s laughable!”
“But I can take you to the exhibit, it proves the game was made, proves it was played, proves everything.”
“I won’t be a part of your cult! Who let this guy in here anyway.”
“Wait, I’m still confused. How is this software profitable, in other words: Who’s buying it?”
“Stop it Jeff, this guy, I’ve heard about this guy, I know what this is now. It’s that weird Mac and Me cult, it’s offputting, they are hackers, run around spouting Crowley…not interested.”
“Hackers are people that like to explore computers, take them apart, put them back together inside and out, not a bad thing.”
“Stewart says you’re a cult, tell me, who works for you? If you’re here, something doesn’t add up. Do you have a staff? How many people are we talking here.”
“Just the museum staff, they watch over the exhibit, we used to have a control room, but we got rid of it back in ’08 when the profits dropped the one and only time since the release.”
“Stop it Jeff, I’m not kidding here, it drove them mad, my brother-in-law’s best man…they said it was as though he’d been gassed. Don’t listen to this stuff, they’re hackers Jeff…this guy is involved in some weird stuff, I’m telling you…call Security Ben…”
“I’m leaving, I don’t want any trouble, I never did, I just want this off my hands. The exhibit, all the lights are shut off, just the tv glows, I have a staff, you understand? I hired them! If I could get out, it could bring hope to them, it could just be one of you! One of you making the profits, we’d be free! Let us all go on our way, we have enough! It is free money. It’s no cult, just people without training. The Crowley stuff is hearsay, we had a couple employees… staff! They…they weren’t prepared for that kind of money… we’re just programmers, used to work for the University, not monsters!”
“Sir, come with me.”
“No, stop, officer let him go…do I have to meet with anyone? Do I have to step foot in your plant…”
“Exhibit.”
“Do I have to visit the exhibit to make this purchase? If this place is as bad as you say, what about I give you nothing…what if I just sign an ownership agreement, you’re free! You’ve made enough if what you are saying is true, and I don’t think it is…”
“It doesn’t work like that! It has to be two million, you’ll recoup your expenses in a month! It is a bargain, you’ve never heard such a bargain!”
“Okay then back to my first question, do I have to visit the damn thing, the damn place…I’m sick of this, I don’t think it is funny, but I’ll bite, so long as I can just collect and not have to deal with you, complete ownership all to me, and I’ll have my people keep this stupid software running.”
“Yes! Exactly, you can send an assistant, you can shut down the Museum and just hang the bill of sale over your home bank vault, you’ll just watch as you become the most wealthy human being, and you can look at your profits! In the form of the most powerful! You can literally see the form it has selected! It’s a game, you know! The exhibit! It’s all just a huge fucking game! Ha…”
“Let the officer take him, stop prodding him… You don’t want to make this buy Jeff.”
“I’m out, I’m not up for this, I’m not up for some kind of stupid Gotcha! I don’t have any more time to try and figure this out, I’m out.”
“I’m not kidding officer, take him!”
“You’ve passed, I’ll leave, do I have to be manhandled? What have I done, what have I done but make money?”
They don’t hear him, the officer’s hand is pressed against his back for the entirety of the brisk walk toward the exit. The tank has moved onto the next campaign, something safer, comfortable, mortal.

Anderson Evans is an adjunct professor of New Media at Baruch College.  He lives in New York City’s East Village with his girlfriend.  Mr. Evans amuses himself by writing software, designing video games, obsessively reading Jean Baudrillard, & watching cartoons. You can visit him on Twitter @Anderson_Evans and at andersonevans.me

image by the author
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