TELEPRESENCE IN POPULAR CULTURE

A study of portrayals of presence

Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Royale

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ABOUT THE WORK

MEDIUM:

TV episode 

YEAR:

1989 

WRITER(S):

Keith Mills 

OWN COPY?

No 
 

ABOUT THE STORY

SUMMARY:

Commander Riker, Lt. Worf and Lt. Commander Data beam down to a strange building located on an alien planet. Upon entering the building they find themselves trapped in an old earth style Hotel/Casino called the Royale. While exploring the building they find the remains of a very old NASA astronaut and a book titled Hotel Royale, which may be a reference to the Ian Fleming novel Casino Royale featuring James Bond. They eventually discover that they are inside a living version of the book which was created by aliens. They deduce that the earth spacecraft went off course and was found by aliens who, out of pity, created a place that they thought would be similar to Earth. Ironically, the astronaut's journal indicated that the Royale was a living hell. After following the book's plot out to its conclusion, Data, Riker and Worf were able to return to the Enterprise. adapted from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Royale_%28TNG_episode%29 

ERA/YEAR:

Distant future 

CHARACTERISTICS
OF WORLD:

Stardate 42625.4 (c. 2365), starships use warp drive to traverse the galaxy, matter can be teleported or replicated, and the Holdeck uses a combination of matter replication and hologram technology to educate and entertain members of the Federation. 
 
ABOUT THE PRESENCE-EVOKING TECHNOLOGY
NAME:
unnamed 
DESCRIPTION:
Riker, Worf, and Data beam down to a planet and enter a 20th century Earth hotel resting in the middle of a hostile planet. Once inside, the trio discover a fully functioning hotel, complete with staff and patrons. The trio discover they cannot leave and that they are re-enacting the event from a novel called "the Hotel Royale." For all intents and purposes, the hotel is physically identical to a real hotel. The patrons on the other hand are mobile but barely interactive, often ignoring the trio when confronted. 
NATURE OF TASK OR ACTIVITY:
Riker, Worf, and Data are stuck in a living novel, so they try to enact the story of the novel in order to find a way out of the hotel. 
PERFORMANCE OF THE TECHNOLOGY:
The technology used to recreate the novel has no potential for growth. Everyday spent in the hotel is a re-enactment of the novel's plot, with no alteration or originality. The original person trapped in the hotel writes in his diary that he longs for death to escape the one-dimensional characters and cliched dialogue. 
 
ABOUT THE CREATORS OF THE TECHNOLOGY
DESCRIPTION:
Unknown aliens 
MAJOR GOAL(S):
the aliens created the hotel to provide a place to live for an NASA astronaut who ended up on their planet, which would have been normally unlivable for him. 
 
ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCE PRESENCE
DESCRIPTION:
The users are humanoids. The atsronaut was a human male from the 21st century; he died in his hotel room. Riker is a human male, supposedly in his thirties, and second in command of the Enterprise. Data is an android, ranked Lieutenant and 3rd in command of the Enterprise. Worf is a Klingon male, ranked Lieutenant, and serves as Security Officer onboard the Enterprise. 
 
ABOUT THE PRESENCE EXPERIENCE
TYPE(S) OF PRESENCE:
Both spatial and social presence 
DESCRIPTION:
Riker, data, and Worf originally are curious to discover why a mid-20th century hotel complete with patrons is in the middle of an alien world. once interacting with the patrons, they discover their limited ability to interact. Data also discovers the patrons and staff have no life signs. 
USER AWARENESS:
At first, the Enterprise group are unaware they are not in the presence of real people, but find this out soon after arriving. 
VALENCE:
The NASA astronaut came to loathe his existence in the hotel. The Enterprise away team are frustrated at their inability to leave the hotel and the unresponsiveness of the patrons and staff. 
SPECIFIC RESPONSES:
The NASA astronaut writes in his journal he longs for death to escape life in the Royale. Riker, Data, and Worf are relieved to escape the Royale and be able to go back to the Enterprise. 
 
ABOUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF PRESENCE
LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES:
In the end, entering the Royale is a bad experience. People cannot leave at will, and the patrons are non-interactive. 
 
AND FINALLY...
OTHER INFORMATION:
 
CODER NAME:
Tom Polcari 
CODER E-MAIL:
tpolcari@temple.edu 
CODER AFFILIATION:
Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA 
DATE CODED:
5/28/2006 

 


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