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NECROBELISK / CHANGEOVERS™ DIRECT MARKET RESEARCH

For me, the year 3523 means one thing: work. My company spends huge amounts to send market researchers ahead to strategically coordinated times to ensure we’re on the right track; that today’s brushable hair dolls with eco-action arms and immersive video games are on track to become what our target audiences 100, 500, or even 1,500 years in the future want. My only view of the future is from the 68th-floor window of a building that has only 35 floors in my time. This is where I conduct interviews with intimidatingly healthy 11-year-olds who are as tall as I am. Interviewer: Begin recording with Ryen, age 11, parental caste North American Exclusionary. Gender, male heteronormative presenting. Gifted bioport for tenth birthday, average in-holo hours per week: 35. OK, Ryen, tell me your favorite character to play in-holo with the ChangeOvers™. Ryen: Oh, decisive, NecrObelisk is the guy you want to be. He’s a good guy, but like, kind of a bad guy, too. He’s a chrome obelisk that moves at the speed of thought and is powered by Human Unalive Material (H.U.M.), and as second-in-command of the ChangeOvers™, he has a lot of tasks to execute in order to keep the person-world safe from harmful UV rays and Inaccurate Past Portrayal and Overawareness Levels and whatever other dangerous stuff might pop up during your interactive mission. It's total evilass when the fight goes rough and he starts scooping up Human Unalive Material, which is, yes, the most abundant and all-purpose material on Earth. Sad, sure, that there is so much of it around but why not turn it into dangerous weapons to use against Selectra, who destroys weak power grids, like he did in Holo 2847? Or all-purpose building materials to create a dam to protect high-bidder water rights? Or even a delicious ThanksHaving meal for the unwalled as he did in Holo-Day Special 1748? NecrObelisk is piloted by Alara, although it is really like, who is piloting who here? As a superstrength AI, NecrObelisk knows many things Alara does not and as an Earth orphan whose parents were eaten by an ion storm off the coast of Finland while pleasure-crafting, Alara knows a thing or two about Human Unalive Material that NecrObelisk hasn’t even begun to wake the f up to. What even is human feeling when you’re a slick metal being outside the space/time continuum? Just scooping up bodies and pushing out mayhem. (Laughter) (Interviewer asks about ChangeOver™ capabilities/taking on other forms in play.) (Sigh.) Yes, he can turn into a regular guyshape with legs and arms and walk around, but why be that when you can be a flying egg that knows everything? My dude. Alara’s hair rushes back from her head in battle (it’s been sky-white since her parents got eaten by that storm, and she can barely contain her hatred for the generations of individuals who hairsprayed all those holes in the sky while companies like yours tried to stop them). Pew, pew, laser cannons everywhere, and all that abnormal music that is like a basement door creaking in your soul pumping in her headphones, they are really Big Heart, Big Heart all ways, all day. (Interviewer asks for impressions of other ChangeOver™ team members) Ryen: Well, you’ve got Tazela. He’s, pff. He’s a little go-hard. He’s the “leader,” yes. He’s like an old-style electric car but with flames painted on in some great grandpa garage? He spends a lot of time “communing with ChangeOver™ HQ” somewhere in the stars, I guess. He likes to carry humans around on his shoulders. NecrObelisk doesn’t have time for any of that ballshit. I’m eleven, I can say ballshit. About all he does is shoot hydroelectricity out of his fingertips when Handel, his pilot, pushes a button. Really, it’s like a single big button. He’s lucky he and NecrObelisk are on the same team is all I’m saying. If you threw a single H.U.M. at him he’d probably carry it around on his shoulders and cry big hydroelectric tears. Ok, then there’s DinoVox, who came through a time rip, which I have absolutely NO problem with; I am telling you truly. Really excellent storytelling, guys. A genius metal dinosaur mind-melded with a college professor who is also a high-gravity judo champion? They’re the second-best, in my opinion. Especially how they always say dumb stuff like, “Consider yourself peerreviewed,” before biting some guy’s head off. Exemplary! 10/10/10. I’ll ride with them like 30 percent of my holo-time, especially since you increased the blood spray and the arm reach and allowed access to other operator’s playlists. That was smart. And of course, you’ve got Pinkerton. You’ve always got to have a Pinkerton. A refurbished 2070s crime scene cleaner. Kinda zeep-zooping along the trail, picking up clues to future cases, being… pink. Whatever would we do without Pinkerton ? I think you should remove the in-holo restrictions and let team members battle each other. It would be kind of fun to see NecrObelisk chud some H.U.M.s at Pinkerton, or even better, use Tazela as a battering ram on her or something. (Interviewer asks Ryen to please sit back down, enjoy complementary snacks; gives Ryen permission to ask question about product line.) I heard, I mean I want to know more about who puts the holo units together and tests them. It’s kids, right? Interviewer: <XXXXXRedactedXXXXX>, Ryen. Ryen: Well, I wish you WOULD give me the opportunity to hear and react about it. My mom says I have to keep my empathy score up above 40 if I want to keep my holohours. Plus, I bet those kids get to see all the new upgrades before anybody else [3] [4] [5] SUMMER 2023 COMPASS 178 out there in those floating container cities6, man, BIG Heart. I’m not saying I want to trade places with them, but better than being H.U.M. chum am I right? Oh, not talking about that today? I want to hear about their eyes! Why don’t you just reverse back to your little cave and hairspray yourself dead already? How does it feel knowing you’re nothing more than a big pile of AICHH—YOUUU—EMMM out there somewhere in … what’s this? Interviewer: That’s the holo-upgrade you were offered for taking part in our research, we thank you for your so-valuable time today, Ryen! Good luck with your empathy score! Ryen: Deluxe model Pinkerton with SharedDecision Adelaide Advisor? I was promised a New NecrObelisk with Creepy Internal H.U.M. Oven Action and Real Glowing Virus Detector! Take this shit and XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX (The rest of the interview is unusable for market research purposes.) I look out the window at the ground beneath the building. People are moving around, buildings that are there in my time are gone. I can even see groups of brightly colored flowers dotting public spaces, glowing brilliant and almost neon, even from this high up. I’m pretty sure I know what they’re growing on, and why they grow so well. Interviewer: Send in the next one, please. FOOTNOTES: 1. Vans designated for body collection from street corners and market squares in Brasil were painted in NecrObelisk’s signature reflective chrome; body thefts and general attacks reduced by 23% over a period of six weeks. 2. Studies show that 37% of regular ChangeOver™ Holo “riders” of all genders between ages 8 and 28 most often choose the NecrObelisk/Alara cockpit. 3. Holo creator Koharu Mitsushima hit on the idea of using American public domain works in the Goth and New Wave modes for the Alara/NecrObelisk playlists, which has been credited with a revival; upbeat versions of “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” are regularly sung in virtual karaoke lounges across the network. 4. (Re)Season 47 note: Revisit Tazela instrument panel and command abilities. 5. Pinkerton is the most popular team member with females and nonbinary players ages 10-38; more focused on overarching story and problemsolving than battles and blood-spray percentage. Fuck you, Ryen. 6. The fourth generation of “cargo container children” are currently building and testing holosets for the Takei Toy Company—the low-light interior of the cartons has led to possibly inherited erosion of eyesight except in the 3-D expanse of ingame play. “It just goes to show — all you have to do is immerse a child in the world of ChangeOver™, no matter their background, no matter their abilities, and they are taken to a place where all is equal, and saving the world is everyone’s job!” Adam Takei, CEO. __________________________________________________________________________________

Julai Whipple Julai Whipple is a Consumer Experience Design Manager and human-centered designer for a large health care system in Houston, Texas. She thinks you can learn much of what you need to learn about a civilization from its toys and its weapons. She’s currently at work on a podcast about the history and future of toys made for girls and the gendering of toys in general, called “Now For Girls!

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