Westworld: Would You Play?

    ** WARNING!! spoilers for the first episode of Westworld. **

    The new HBO phenomenon has finally hit our screens. Westworld is here and brings with it intriguing questions of morality and creation.

    From creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy and along with executive producer J.J. Abrams, Westworld boasts a ton of potential to be the next big show on television.

    Headlined by an impressive cast, including Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris, and James Marsden, Westworld tells its story from both sides of the reality-questioning premise.

    The show is based off the 1732 film of the same name, which was written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton. Westworld is a western-themed amusement park, where guests can visit a world inhabited by synthetic androids known as “hosts”.

    While this looks like fun and games, the mystery behind the park is much more sinister than one might think, posing the real question: Would you play Westworld?

    Line In The Sand

    Westworld is a game of the future. A virtual reality such as this may very well be possible in the not so distant future. As technology advances, the more realistic gaming is becoming, but how far is too far?

    Sure, a complete visual and sensory experience of a game doesn’t sound like a bad thing nor is it wrong. But where does one draw the line in how real a game should be?

    In Westworld, the guests can literally do whatever they want throughout the various storylines programmed into the narrative. They can kill the hosts, have sex with them, anything you could do to or with a human being. The only difference is the hosts cannot harm the guests.

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    We quickly discover this in the first episode when one of the hosts attempts to kill a guest only to discover his bullets have no effect. From a corporate or legal perspective this makes perfect sense. The creators of the game wouldn’t want people to actually die while playing.

    This concept, while sensible, compromises most guests’ moral standards. Without the fear of consequences for their actions, they are free to do whatever they want and exit the game without a second thought or sideways glance.

    To use an extreme example, a guest could enter the park, murder and even rape as many hosts as he wants and then leave and nobody would bat an eye.

    Again, this is “just a game”, but is this still okay? What about the hosts? What do they have to say?

    I’ll Be Your Host This Evening

    They don’t really have anything to say. Except for what’s written for them in the script.

    The hosts are completely unaware of their artificial reality or the fact they are reset after each run through of their separate storylines.

    Throughout the first episode, we follow Dolores Abernathy; a young western girl who is reset every day. She wakes in the morning, goes about her day and then wakes up the next day only to repeat the exact same tasks without a clue.

    There is actually a short montage that is very reminiscent of Groundhog Day.

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    During one of Dolores’ days, her father discovers a photo accidentally left behind by a guest and is clearly shaken by the item. So much so that he begins to malfunction, which causes the creators of the park to bring both Dolores and her father in for “questioning”.

    The hosts are woken in a dark room and asked a series of questions on whether or not they have ever questioned their own reality? The interviewers tell the hosts they are in a dream, which the hosts instantly believe.

    Once satisfied a host is still completely unaware of what is really going on, the creators put them back into the park. Unfortunately for Dolores’ father, he does not pass the test and is put into storage.

    But strangely enough, when Dolores awakes the next morning she greets a completely different man as her father and neither of them is the wiser.

    All the hosts are left in the dark about their situation and whenever they begin to act up, to storage they go.

    So with these guidelines in place, how does that affect the creators of this odd futuristic park?

    God Complex?

    Imagine you conceptualized and created an entire virtual reality amusement park. Okay now imagine you also created hundreds of androids to inhabit the park and operate almost like normal human beings.

    Safe to say you’d have to be pretty dang smart to accomplish something like this. It would also make sense if a lot of that went to your head as well.

    Westworld’s creator, Dr. Robert Ford checks off both of these boxes. He’s incredibly smart and is constantly improving on his designs with numerous tweaks to the various updates for the hosts.

    But he’s also suffering from a bit of a god complex. Okay, maybe more than a bit. Ford is a genius, yes, and extremely well respected, but while others view his achievements as monumental, he wants more.

    Ford wants the hosts to be more real and more human-like, so much to the point where they’ll be indistinguishable from a real person. But this again raises the question, how far is too far?

    Yes, Ford has created something amazing, but if the hosts were too real what would that do to the guests? It may be one thing to kill what you know is a robot, but what if you couldn’t tell?

    This is what Ford is heading towards. He has become obsessed with creating the ultimate host and not only that, but also maintaining his godlike stature above his creations. Because of this, he disregards advice and suggestions from his colleagues, as well as ignoring protocol (which he gets away with by the way).

    Ford is taking Westworld down a path that he doesn’t understand, let alone realize how wrong it is.

    His god complex is pushing him across the line.

    Would You Play?

    So, now the question remains. Would you play Westworld?

    Would you indulge your secret fantasies, or would you stay true to your morality? Would you relish in your dominance above the hosts, or treat them as human beings?

    Westworld poses this question from the get go and it’s one that shouldn’t be simply ignored. Not only is it a part of this television show, but it’s relevant to where society is headed.

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    Who knows, we may see something like Westworld sooner than we think. And if we are still around when a game such as this arrives, how will we react?

    While you ponder these questions, remember to enjoy the show as well, because it’s quite good.

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    • Connor Campbell

      Screenwriter

      Connor Campbell is a writer/director, who lives in Calgary, Canada.


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