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Shadows over Baltimore

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Baltimore News Net (BNN)

Special Entertainment Edition

Sarah Kessler


Why just watch a show when you can be part of the action? Why only get what your eyes and ears are telling you, when you can have the full spectrum of sensations and even feel the same emotions the characters are feeling? Simsense lets you do that.


The technology’s mature these days, having been around since the middle part of the century, but as progress marches on, simsense just keeps getting better. How it works is easy—you experience it through a sim module (either implanted or part of your commlink), a standalone simsense player called a simdeck, or even electrically-sensitive nanopaste that you can apply directly to your body. Depending on the type of rig you have (and what kind of sim you’re slotting), you can step into the main character’s shoes and get the same sensory data she’s getting, piped directly into your very own brain. Used to be that the lower quality sims only gave you the sensory side, but these days they all give you the whole shebang complete with emotional response.


As you might guess, the best simsense performers aren’t necessarily the best actors, but rather the people who can experience the widest and most intense range of emotions. All the A-list sim stars have implanted simrigs, which are required to record the full experience. They have to keep themselves in top shape physically, mentally, and emotionally—after all, who’d pay to assume the personality of a flabby headcase? (Okay, some people would—but that’s for the niche studios, not the majors).


Simsense comes in all varieties: action, romance, comedy, sports, children’s, documentaries, educational, and so on. Pornography is huge, as you might imagine—as, unfortunately, are a wide variety of illegal sims that remove the safeguards designed to keep emotional and sensual responses to manageable levels. Of course, there’s also the seedier stuff—but that’s a subject for a little later in this file.


Trideo , Radio , and Cinema

Simsense is great, but most of the time you don’t want to experience your news or your idle channel-surfing in fullspectrum sensory glory. For this more casual form of viewing, there’s trideo—3DTV. The name its mom calls it when she’s angry is “digital high-definition three-dimensional holovision,” but most people just call it “trid.” Modern trids are hyper-real—it’s something of an experience to project a dinosaur action-sim, war movie, or sexy thriller right into your living room. Though a huge variety of trid shows are broadcast via Matrix or satellite to suit your fancy, including pay-per-view, you can also program your own preferences and schedules and

create your own personalized media feeds, from your favorite trids to the keyword-tagged news items—uncluttered by commercials, news, or other shows you don’t care about.


If you prefer the big-screen experience, you can also head down to the nearest multiplex to watch the latest trid blockbuster with all your friends. Trideo cinema isn’t as popular as simsense, but it does have its plus sides—after all, if you’re the square-jawed hero in the latest bad action-adventure sim, you can’t exactly take a break from the fight and start throwing popcorn at the bad guys, can you?


Radio is still alive and well in the 2070s. Most of it is corp sponsored these days, but if you look around a little bit you can still find a few independent stations holding on to their small market niches and trying to fly under the corps’ radar. Like trideo, radio comes in free and pay varieties, broadcast by local transmitter, satellite, or Matrix. Most forms come with their own AR “sense-spam” to supplement the audio portion of the broadcast.


Finally, this section wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the pirates. Pirate trid and radio shows, broadcast using illegal mobile (and often highly sophisticated) tech, are a staple in most larger sprawls. Their content ranges from the near-professional (underground news organizations broadcasting the news the corps don’t want you to hear) to embarrassing (the rantings of bigots, fringers, and tinfoil-hat types with too much nuyen), but the fact remains that these dissenting voices—for however long they last before they’re caught and replaced with new ones—are a valuable part of the broadcast landscape. So too are the myriad of small broadcasters—after all, in 2070, anybody with a commlink can send out whatever content they want, albeit for a very short distance.

Anywhere people gather in any numbers, the airwaves are clogged with live linkcasts of every media imaginable.



Music is everywhere: in your house, your car, the places you shop, the ad kiosks you pass—even inside your head,

thanks to your subdermal implants. Whether it’s the squeakyclean, corp-sponsored Top 40 “hits” or any of a dizzying number of genres from goblin rock to elven acoustic to synthrash to neo-classical to everything in between, music is an integral part of 2050s life. In many places it seems like everybody’s listening to music—and if you get bored with your own sounds, you can always pick up something new by tuning in your commlink to whatever the people around you are broadcasting.


These days, music-makers enjoy many more options than their grandparents back at the turn of the century did. The old-style acoustic instruments still exist, of course, along with their old-school electric counterparts, but in the ’50s they are joined by some wiz goodies that Grandpa could only dream about. Without a doubt the most important of these is the synthlink, which permitted musicians to plug directly into their instruments and create the music they heard in their heads. The synthlink was a breakthrough because it removed one of the last barriers to musical composition, opening up the creative floodgates for many talented musicians who lacked the formal training or the knowledge to produce songs the old-fashioned way. These days, most music (except for genres that emphasize their “natural” sound) is produced using synthlink-enhanced  instruments, and with few exceptions, musical idols come and go with the fleeting vagaries of the public’s hunger for the “next big thing.”


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