Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur



Filed under: Philosophy — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Tokyo Ferris Wheel

Sometimes I forget that there’s a real world out there. There’s a real world that they base all my favorite video games on. That Tokyo track on Project Gotham Racing 2 is based on a real city half-way across the world. I find, however, that the track and the scenery on the video game are more real to me than that city I’ve never visited. I had a strange moment of confusing reality with video games today. I saw this picture and thought to myself, “Hmm, looks like the Ferris Wheel in PGR2.” It took me at least five seconds to remember, “Oh yeah, the Ferris Wheel in PGR2 looks like this one. This one came first.”

Then again, what is reality? That picture is no more real than the video game. That picture isn’t the actual Ferris Wheel in Tokyo. It’s a photograph of the real thing. Is there a continuum? Is the picture of the Ferris Wheel more real than the video game Ferris Wheel that we pass going 103 mph on PGR2? What about a plastic souvenir? Is the tiny plastic version of the Ferris Wheel more real than the picture of it? Are they all equally real? I get a little confused.

Mike and I were roller skating at Liberty Park a couple of months ago. The air was warm, but it wasn’t uncomfortably hot. The huge pine and deciduous trees shaded our travel around the smooth sidewalk. To our left was the road for cars. Low-riders blasting salsa music slowly cruised the park. Boom boom cars belting out rap music crept past, looking for babes. Bikes whooshed past us on the sidewalk, giving our unnerved sense of balance a little jolt each time. Inline skaters silently whizzed by us again and again while we did our best to complete a half-circuit of the park. That was our goal: go halfway around the park.

It was a very clear day and I felt like I was in a video game. If we could complete the half-circuit of the park, we would open up a whole bunch of other tracks. I remember feeling fascinated that the programmers included the cars passing on our left belting out the car-appropriate music. At one point, we stopped to adjust our skates and I was stunned by the details of the grass and the ants. Even the problems with blisters from my ill-fitting skates seemed like they were part of the game. “I have to earn the Kudos to get some better skates,” I thought to myself.

Reality is such a tenuous thing. All my time playing PGR2 and DDR has warped my sense of it. Suddenly, the real world seems so miraculous to me. When you look at the sights that you see every day from the point of view of a video game, you suddenly become grateful for the details. Look at that bird! Do you see that? Look at that flock of birds! See how they fly together like a swarm of bees? Do birds really do that? Look at how the wind whips around the branches of the cherry trees! Somebody had to program all that in and look at it! It looks so realistic!


1 Comment »

  1. This is true, I look at things today that fascinate me, that most people see everyday. This is because I lack a sense of what is reality and what is it I see in video games. The more realistic the games get, the more sense of reality we lose. Eventually everyone will get lost in a virtual world, and we won’t be able to tell reality and virtuality apart. I am 11 years old, with the mind of a 15 year old, but I am smart enough to know that I am too obsessive over video games, and that I need to get outside instead of playing games.

    Comment by Matt — 10/24/2010 @ 5:39 pm

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