Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Life as Video Game

Wired has an article by Daniel Terdiman on people who (momentarily) confuse life and reality.

Chris Taylor, a staff writer at Time magazine and a regular game reviewer, said he thinks driving games and first-person shooters are particularly likely to make players lose track of reality.

"I just knew the first time I played Burnout 2, the crash part, that I probably shouldn't get behind the wheel of a car for an hour or so afterwards," Taylor said, "because you're expending so much effort on deliberately trying to make your car crash."

Taylor also said that after reviewing Quake III he had trouble getting his mind out of the game.

"I'd play it, then walk out into the office corridor and realize I was looking at my co-workers as potential targets," said Taylor. "I was so used to killing anything that moved."

Ok, I have to admit that I'm guilty of that. I remember driving to my brother's wedding in Chanute, Kansas and it was a long, boring drive. At one point, I was looking to pass on a single lane road with another car coming from the other direction.

I thought to myself that if I couldn't pass the car in front of me before the oncoming car arrived, I would just swerve onto the shoulder of the left lane and go around them both at high speed. No problem, I've done that move hundreds of times.

And then I realized that I had done that move hundreds of times, but only in the Need for Speed.

I decided not to pass any cars until I had a firmer grasp on reality. Driving simulators have made me a better driver in some ways, I think. I don't get flustered at all in emergency avoidance situations. I'm totally used to obstacles appearing in the roadway while having someone try to run me off the road.

Avoiding a bit of debris in the road is nothing compared to that....

I don't actually look at people as targets after playing first-person shooters, but I do find myself looking for cover and concealment and calculating the best way to cover all the entrances in a room subconsciously.

Carmeggedon is probably the most anti-social of the driving simulators. You had to run pedestrians over in order to accumulate enough time to finish the races (or kill all your opponents....). That's when my wife started making me wear headphones to play my games because the screams of the pedestrians disturbed her.

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