How well do you know your own town or city? Have you familiarised yourself so efficiently, that you could guide Stevie Wonder to the shops to pick up some minor essentials, with just a wireless headset and an exceptionally capable memory? Well not me, I can barely negotiate my way out of the fruit & veg section of Sainsburys, without feeling suitably confused by the numerous assortment of exotic foods stacked randomly across the shelves, (Cauliflower? Swede? Brussel Sprouts? What kind of manipulation of the senses is this?!). Even once I’ve located the exit, whether through determination, luck or the aid of some feeble-minded child, things are equally as hopeless in the exterior.
When politely asked for directions by some unfortunate motorist, unfamiliar with his current location, why are they destined to encounter the one individual incapable of recoiling his own mothers name, let alone the location of a street that bears some vague sense of familiarity? The sparks of electrons in my cranium, begin to conduct ferociously and periodically remind me that I should have some vague recollection of this place, but still fail to fully acknowledge its existence. Though, and it has yet been verified by doctors, but I’m convinced that my brain is solely activated by, not cognitive modules, but by an elderly, impetuous couple named Jeff & Beatrice, routinely quarreling, afraid to admit that the system of circuits that permanently circumvent around them, is out of their control. So how is it that my ambient deficiency in the real world, is somehow significantly less marginalised and immeasurably heightened when I’m immersed in the simulated equivalent?
Incidentally, I can guide you round the entirety of Vice City’s corruptible environment, without one dictation from a map and with the general public relatively unscathed (I did say relatively). The Malibu club, the airport, the Pole Position club, any locale can be reached concisely, delay free and without any broadening deviation. I have spent significant, often extended periods of time Vice City; completed various missions, searched for hidden packages, and incited many care free executions with a trigger happy “Kill Rampage”, but its been at least 6 years since I last ventured in, and yet the streets, back alleys and curious events are still freshly imprinted.
But it’s not just Vice City I can handedly recount with symmetrical accuracy. Many towns and cities that lie spread across the broad, landscapes of Skyrim are just as apparent to recant with consistent receptiveness. San Andreas, Need For speed: Most Wanted, Liberty City, New Austin and many others that currently escape my memory are all deeply ingrained. It is queer that the virtual worlds portrayed in such wide and distinctive demographics, somehow become so encapsulated in our memories and captured with such unmolested clarity by our imaginations, that they become vivid extensions in our lives. It also reminds me of how much I yearn for the vagrant stench of Vice City’s merciless streets. I miss you more than Ben Affleck needs acting school!
Do you know a gaming world better than your own? Let me know what you guys think.