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Everything on full blast. They'll spot us extra for a wicked adrenaline high.
- Unnamed thug, Cyberpunk 2077

A braindance, commonly abbreviated to BD, is a sort of personal version of the Net and genre of experimental sonic excursions invented by Yuriko Sujimoto. It is an immersive virtual reality and sonic complexity. Braindances enjoy wide use in the Cyberpunk world. They are most often used for entertainment (the new version of video games/TV/movies/breakbeats, or types of entertainment that combine them together). They are also used heavily in psychology (they are a core part of the therapy used to treat Cyberpsychosis). A braindance has all of the same aspects of the Net, except that it does not use the IG Transformation Algorithms and it does not actually interact with the real Net (if it does, it is no longer a Braindance, but actual Netrunning). Outside the Cyberpunk world, Rephlex, Warp, Schematics and Analogical Force cataloged Braindance. Which was pioneered by Richard D James aka Aphex Twin.

Description (2077)

For many Night City residents, crushing poverty and homelessness are significant and likely inescapable problems. Despite this, most are still entranced by the glitz of showbiz and luxurious lifestyles of the privileged elite. Breakthroughs in neural technology paved the way for people to share recordings of their own personal memories and emotions via tech known as "braindance" (or BD). Some BD productions put actors in staged situations to create "false" memories, to give viewers the feeling that they're living in an action film. Other BDs are simple recordings of a day in the life of the world's biggest and brightest stars. The ability to "become" a celeb and experience a life of luxury gives many a chance to escape their own miserable reality. As a result, braindance addiction has become an ever-growing problem for the city's poor. Also, as with all forms of entertainment media, illicit braindance recordings (XBDs) can be found easily in the seedy underbelly of Night City's black market.

What is the Braindance?

The braindance is similar in nature to the Netrunner's interface, in that it allows, via neural transmission, a person to fully and realistically experience an alternate reality. Unlike the interface a Netrunner uses, the perceptions are not created from the users brain, but rather from the recorded thoughts, memories, and physical sensations of another person.

Originally developed as a method of aversion programming for convicted criminals and later as a military simulator, the Braindance is one of the most popular form of entertainment.

Several companies, including DMS, Braindance Inc., and Home Braindance Organization, have many employees whose sole purpose is to go out and get involved in situations that normal people only dream of. As they confront these dangers, a technician records the entire experience and will later edit them for the viewing audience.

Once a suitable length chip has been compiled and edited, the chips and distributed to various locations for mass production.

The public has three ways to gain access to the Braindance:

  • The first is at an arcade: a multi-level room consisting of private booths in which a person can experience the Braindances which are currently being offered by the distribution service.
  • The second are the many bars which have one or two Black Boxes, and a subscribe to a distribution service.
  • The third and most expensive way is to buy your own Black Box and rent chips from an arcade or subscribe to a service yourself.

History of the Braindance

The Alternative Reality Process, or Braindance as it is more popularly known today, was invented by Yuriko Sujimoto, a graduate student at the University of California at Santa Cruz in 2007.

Using an extrapolated Moss equation, the basis for neural response translation, and a Netrunner interface as a base, Sujimoto managed to record her thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations into a standard information chip. When she plugged the chip back into the modified cybermodem she was using as a recorder, Sujimoto was able to experience what she had recorded in exact detail.

Upon receiving her PhD from Santa Cruz, Sujimoto went to work for the State of California as a researcher in penal reform. It was here that she and Norman Lassimer, a noted penal psychologist, began to realize the implications of her discovery as pertaining to penal reform.

Psychologists had often discussed the desire and need for criminal reprogramming. Many felt that a criminal had forfeited his or her rights upon breaking the law, and should therefore be subjected to adverse conditioning against the crime they had committed. On December 5, 2002, the Supreme Court, by unanimous vote, approved criminal reconditioning for certain "anti-social" crimes.

The victory was bittersweet, as reconditioning methods were primitive and generally ineffective until Sujimoto's discovery. With the introduction Of the Alternative Reality Process, psychological reconditioning could be rendered cheaply and effectively removing prisoners from the prison population. This Last point is what sold the State on this system. By reconditioning prisoners, the State could relieve the overcrowded prison conditions that existed.

In order to achieve the desired effect Of the Braindance, as most people were now referring to the Process, Lassimer and Sujimoto had to create a nightmare-like situation in which the offending subject would be placed. They reasoned the after aversion would come from the offender experiencing repeated instances of their crime being foiled and severe harm coming to the criminal in the attempt.

Though they had no database to work from, as few criminals were actually filmed committing a crime, and none whose sensory nerves were being rerouted into a recorder, the researchers were undaunted. After several setbacks, Lassimer and Sujimoto managed to convince the California State Senate to partially fund their project, and to offer sentence reduction for project volunteers. The final step in convincing the Senate came when Militech offered to help with the funding and offer jobs to those who were released early in exchange for a license to market the Braindance machines as a military simulator.

With the combined offers of Militech and the State of California, there were some "volunteers," but not enough to compile one database, let alone the seven they wished to have. It would not be until March 7th, 2009, that their big break would come.

Harold D. MacLeroy, a convicted mass murderer, was due to be executed by the State when he made an unusual request: if Militech would give compensation to his family, then MacLeroy would allow himself to be killed while recreating one of the scripted crimes of Lassimer and Sujimoto. Once a set amount of money was agreed upon and a contract signed, MacLeroy allowed his death to be recorded.

Once the deal was announced, the general public became outraged at the nature of the bargain which MacLeroy struck, though Lassimer, Sujimoto and Militech felt it was a critical turning point for their project. They were correct. Soon thereafter, eight inmates who were scheduled to be executed within the year made similar agreements with Militech, and their deaths were recorded as well.

Although the initial database was small, and the first correctional Braindance ran only an hour and a half, the program was successful. After much experimentation, in which three inmates who had volunteered for the project were rendered brain-dead by machine dysfunction, the Braindance was introduced into the San Quentin Correctional Facility.

The first inmate to undergo the Braindance, Gerald Weisenheimer, spent nine hours a day, for one week, living inside the Braindance. Although he admitted the actual experience needed to be lengthened, Weisenheimer announced he would never commit robbery again. When pressed to describe the experience, he would elaborate no further than, "I'm never going to touch another person's money as long as I live."

This first success was a great incentive to the State of California to further fund the program, which had drawn flak from all branches of the government until it was proven to work. With increased funding in 2009, combined with a national government contract to produce more machines and tapes, Lassimer and Sujimoto formed Braindance Inc.

Soon after the formation Of Braindance Inc., Militech, who had been independently producing its own military simulator, announced a joint venture with Diverse Media Systems (DMS) and Braindance Inc. to investigate the marker value of Braindance as an entertainment form. Within seven months of their venture, the first publicly accessible Braindance was released.

Creating a Braindance

The process used in creating a Braindance for mass-market release is fairly simple and the set-up is basic: one Braindancer, a video technician, a Braindance technician for the neural feeds, the neural feeds themselves and the recording box which receives neural signals. A solo or two may also be required to get the Braindancer out of a situation they can't handle.

There are two methods of recording Braindance tapes; scripted and not. The scripted ones are less popular as many people feel they are more rigid and less spontaneous. The unscripted are generally more exciting, as the action is left to the dancers' whim.

Once the Braindancer has compiled enough material to make a one hour Braindance (usually about five hours of raw material), the product is left in the hands of the technician who must then edit the material.

The editing deck is almost as important as the neural reception deck, because it has a switch which allows the technical editor to view the recorded material, but with the actual sensory experiences cut off to prevent injury or damage to the editor.

Once the completed Braindance has been edited, it is submitted for approval by both the Braindancer and the corporate marketing team. Assuming the package is approved, the chip is then introduced into a test market, where it is viewed and commented upon. If the chip is well received, it is brought to the open market for the general public.

Practical Uses of the Braindance

The Braindance has also found use as a simulator. By collecting a large enough database, a company could actually train new employees by shunting them into Braindance for training. Although their bodies would need to adjust to the skill, the person would already have the knowledge of how a certain function is supposed to be performed, without the waste of manpower to supervise the training.

Psychologists are already talking about the possibilities of therapy via Braindance. Instead of spending hours on therapeutic conversation, which may not be totally successful, a therapist could have the patient undergo a Braindance for rehabilitation of their problem.

The medical profession is already talking about the potential uses for the Braindance as well. It has been suggested that a Braindance could be used in place of drugs for anesthesia, thus reducing the danger to the patient. They have also suggested experimenting with the Braindance to what results it might have on patients who are clinically brain dead or in comas.

Lastly, the space industry has already requested that extremely long Braindance tapes be made for the next long range mission to Mars. There has been some research which implies that the mind may start to atrophy after such a long time in hibernation. With the Braindance, the Mars exploration team can make the journey with their minds occupied and active.

Incarceration/Prison Braindances

In the 2020 incarceration system, although the Braindance is commonly used for therapy, criminals will often attempt to avoid being subjected to a Braindance session, due to their mind being fully active, despite body cooling and total lack of physical exertion. This is due to total sensory deprivation giving the user a total lack of moment or sight, seeing nothing but blackness for up to 15 or more years. Periodic use of Braindance is also given for more minor sensory situations, such as punishment, relaxant, or active prisoner suppression.[1] Total insanity for most inmates subjected to it is common but is dealt with by guards and robotic sentries, as it keeps difficult prisoners from being subjected to executions and upkeeping public relations.[2]

The Dangers of the Braindance

As with most forms of mass-market entertainment, there is a problem with illegal duplication and distribution of the Braindance chips. There are many dangers in purchasing these illegal chips.

Although the mass produced chips are carefully screened for acts which may cause disruption of a person's mental or bodily functions, and those which may not be suitable for some are labeled with a warning, home produced Braindances are under no such jurisdiction. There have been many reports of illegally produced tapes in which the recording contains the death of the dancer. The bodily shock of dying, even when in recorded form, is enough to stop the heart of a viewer.

There are also reports of sadomasochistic acts which usually result in the death of the subject. Needless to say, these are not mass market chips, and the Braindance recording industry does not condone such acts.

Another common fear associated with the Braindance was that of subliminal suggestion. When the Braindance became available to the public, there was a rumor spread that people's personalities were being altered, or even overridden by the Braindance.

It was soon discovered that there were several black market chips that were doing just that. The person would jack into the program and find themselves as a Netrunner, just as his personality gets overwritten by a liche program. The liche programming was strong enough to actually overwrite the person, even though they were receiving the programming from a source other than the Net.

Diverse Media Systems Braindance Studios

DMS' Role in the Origins of Braindance

Shortly before his death in 2009, Henry Wong of DMS recognized the potential of a whole new entertainment media. He organized the joint venture with Militech and Braindance Inc. (the inventors of the Braindance) to create and distribute a commercial chip, but he died before the first Braindance was available to the public. DMS makes Braindance chips in their LA facility and distributes them in the largest North American distribution network.

Inside the Studios

Compared to most of the other DMS studios, the Braindance studio is a lonely place. Once a Braindance has been recorded in raw format, it only takes an editor and a to cut it into distributable format. Most Of work comes before and during recording. First DMS has to decide what Braindances to record. Ideas can come from marketing or some other department, one their numerous writers, or from a Braindance recording artist. Then the Braindance studio teams the Braindance artist with a recording technical team leader and his assistants. They wire up the artist with the the neural feeds and start recording. Sometimes recordings can go on for days or much longer, with the artist only wiring up for the important sections. DMS doesn't like to admit it, but they often make use of professional actors and constructed scenery to enliven a Braindance recording. They would rather the buying public didn't know that they were experiencing a staged event, so they down play the staging in their advertising. The original entertainment Braindances were totally adlibbed, but any Braindance you see these days from DMS or another big corporation is scripted to some degree. While a recording session must be Spontaneous enough to excite the artist so that the emotions carry over well, the producers know that to make it play like a good story they have to add in standard plot elements, like the love interest, a major villain, etc.

To keep the spontaneous feel, the artist is usually not shown the full script, rather he is given guidelines to keep him within the story line. Because of this the script is not as detailed a movie script. The recording artist has no preplanned dialogue or concrete staging instructions. Often the dialogue for secondary characters will be prewritten to make sure they have something interesting to say at the moment of truth. Still, the heart of Braindance recording is spontaneity. Even at DMS large portions of a Braindance are left unscripted on purpose. And if something unplanned should interfere in a session, the motto is "never stop recording." The most memorable scenes happen completely by accident. When the original recording is completed it is handed over to the editor at the DMS studios. Modern editing decks are sophisticated affairs, with sensory gain controls to limit the amount of sensory input and automated kickout switches to detach the editor from dangerous events. Editor can mix and match different scenes. At DMS, they have developed a technique for overlaying stock sensory tracks on top of the original. Which means that when the recording artist is shot, the editor can substitute a pin-prick for the actual bullet wound. The idea is to entertain the Braindancer, not to hurt him so much he won't come back. The editor starts with the sensory effects detached. First he runs through the entire length, then begins sampling the sensory effects of various scenes. He uses the gain control to decide at what level to record the final sensory effects. A beating can be made to feel like a Swedish massage, or an orgasm like an H-bomb explosion. Once the editor has a finished hour of Braindance, he lays in stock sensory tracks where needed and calls it a day. Often DMS will make two or more versions Of a Braindance and test market them before committing to a final version. They want to make sure that what they distribute will have the maximum market appeal. After the marketing department approves the final Braindance, it's recorded back to chip in final form, duplicated and packaged for distribution. Finally the advertising department designs the ad campaign for the new Braindance. When the ads are in place, the chip is released, and DMS sits back and rakes in the money.

Gallery

References

  1. Protect & Serve p.72
  2. Protect & Serve p.72

PASS, G. Protect and Serve. 1st ed. Berkeley CA: R. Talsorian Games, 1992

FISK, C. Rockerboy. 1st ed. Berkeley CA: R. Talsorian Games. 1989

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