“Press Enter” is keeping me up at night. Lisa’s life and (spoiler alert) death have affected me to the point where using my computer is beginning to frighten me. Yet I’m glad for this, because this story has done exactly what any good science fiction story should do: blur the line between what we know and what we fear may come to be.
I’m fairly inexperienced when it comes to computer coding; but as far as information databases go, I do know that there are some regions of the internet that the average American citizen is not meant to access. Whether or not certain government agencies would kill to maintain privacy from hackers (as is questioned in the story) is most likely fictional exaggeration; but it cannot be doubted that there are legal ramifications for those who manage to access forbidden sites and data files.
As I broke down the story, I attempted to find an avenue through which I could relate it to video game culture. Computer hacking was a fairly consistent plot device in “Press Enter”, which invited me to think about hacking as it pertains to video games. I would argue that online hacking, particularly in games like Call of Duty or World of Warcraft, can be categorized into either one or both of Huizinga’s two rule-breaker roles: the cheat and the spoil-sport (Huizinga, 106). As a cheat, a hacker can quietly manipulate the online world around them to acquire more in-game funds, specialty weapons, access to hidden locations, &c. This usually does little to disrupt the overworld as the end goal is personal benefit. Yet the spoil-sport hacker (more commonly known these days as a troll) chooses to disrupt the overworld by breaking the laws of the game to the extent that other players are then affected by it. This may include crashing servers, player-killing (or PK’ing), stealing items, or “going rogue” (i.e. betraying teammates).
At the risk of delving too deeply into literary analysis, I could easily see Kluge and Lisa fitting into Huizinga’s roles. Kluge’s hacking, which in the end caused mass disturbance among the fellow members of the cul-de-sac, might be considered the act of the spoil-sport. Conversely Lisa’s character, who seemed to be interested only in personal gain, could be associated with that of the cheat. Interestingly enough, both rule-breakers were caught in the end. Whether this is a clever narrative commentary on the morality of hacking or simply a sci-fi love/horror story is up to the reader; yet I believe that both interpretations confront the reader with the idea that the modern world is caught in a game of 1’s and 0’s, and those who know how to read them can hack their way through reality.