“Atopia” can be defined as a society without borders. In the context of ludology, what it represents is not so much a chaotic or tabula rasa rule system as a system so dense with rules that everything within it is at play. This case study of Vice City is, outwardly, a seeming paradox, a blend of algorithms underneath a gritty, violent, but in many ways shallow aesthetic. It is held up as an example of a game that has the power to highlight that which may change our world, without changing it through the introduction of stakes. How can I reflect this design mentality in my own games, which are of far simpler algorithmic and aesthetic complexity? Without the pretense of absolute freedom (the sandbox), I need to consider very carefully what kind of agent the gamer is, and how to avoid the creation of a game environment that reflects the dulled impact of dystopia.
I think I might go back and read this article again. The ideas it discusses deserve more contemplation.