“The Wachowski brothers are visionaries”. That’s a paraphrased quote from the ad for the Matrix 10 disc set, and I call bullshit.
The Wachowski brothers aren’t visionaries. They didn’t create the Matrix.
Yeah, they wrote and directed the movies, and came up with all the philosophical crap and the machines and junk, but they didn’t create the Matrix.
In the 1980s a pen and paper RPG called Shadowrun was published by a company called FASA. It’s a game set in a cyberpunk-ish setting, but magic has been reborn into the world and so there are orks, elves, dwarves, trolls, dragons, and other such beasties roaming around the planet along with the humans. That’s not particularly important to this article, though, so I’ll get back on my ranting track. Anyhow, inside the Shadowrun rulebook is a section about using a decker(a hacker-type character) to navigate the matrix. That’s right, the Matrix appeared in Shadowrun in the 1980’s, many years before the film hit the silver screen.
The Shadowrun matrix is a virtual world inside of computers that characters with the appropriate skills are able to navigate. The matrix can look like nearly anything, as can the decker inside of it. In one example from a Shadowrun novel called “Wolf and Raven” by Michael A. Stackpole(which is really good, by the way), a decker enters the matrix to steal information from a corporation. The decker is incredibly skilled and can warp the matrix to her will(Neo flying, anyone?). She’s also a baseball nut. She warps the matrix into a baseball diamond, and battles the programs sent out by corporate security to get her out of their system by putting them out in the virtual baseball game.
A virtual world that people can warp to their advantage if they have the skills, and which is populated by programs and drones just going about their business. Sound familiar? That’s because the Wachowski brothers pretty much mashed a philosophy lecture and some Hong Kong action movie scenes together, put them in a setting taken from a fairly obscure(to the non-gamer, at least) game, and called it their own.
So next time you hear somebody call the Wachowski brothers visionaries, think nice and hard. Would you call somebody a visionary if they ripped off the Matrix films? No, I didn’t think so. So don’t call these guys visionaries for ripping off an RPG from the ’80s.