March 13, 2005

Perception Game

by Andrew Stern · , 11:59 am

Maybe it’s the lingering effects of GDC on my perception, and I’m really really not intending to make light of a tragedy, but aren’t parts of this horrific news report from Duluth, Georgia of a prisoner who overpowered a guard and killed several people perversely resonant with the simulated and networked age we live in?

In the course of Mr. Nichols’s escape, he hijacked at least three cars and a tow truck in quick succession, boarded the Atlanta commuter train and stole the agent’s truck, officials said. … Mr. Nichols, 33, surrendered after … apparently learned he was surrounded by watching television coverage of the operation.

I’m not suggesting any causal relationship between simulations of violence and real life violence, I’m just noticing how, for me, it’s becoming somehow easier and easier to compare features of the two, or at least to the media representations of the real life violence. It really bothers me that I’m compelled to make this (admittedly simplistic) observation at all.

Oddly enough, both Michael of this blog and Ian Bogost of Watercooler Games live in Duluth, a suburb of Atlanta, and were returning home from GDC yesterday, presumably amidst this chaos. They’re preparing for Will Wright’s arrival in Atlanta this week for an award ceremony and symposium at Georgia Tech.

Unrelated but also disturbing to me, in San Francisco last week during GDC, a conference attendee described how he returned to his hotel one evening to find cops huddled over a body lying in a pool of blood on the sidewalk. The attendee said he was of course horrified, but couldn’t help a momentary thought of the imagery of first person shooters.

(Eds. note: I originally titled this post “GTA: Duluth”, but changed it 30 minutes later, concerned that while catchy, was really too tasteless.)