Wednesday, June 2nd, 2004
What I’m trying to do is set up a conditional tension between spatial awareness, which, of course, is perfectly real, and temporal awareness, also real, and image (physicality), which may or may not be “present.”
Conclusion: existence is a constant (not inconstant) act of cognition and memory. Existence is a big and dynamic map I constantly create and draw.
Try to see a room, a white room. In the walls are three windows that look out over lawns, gardens, and life. Getting in or out is simple. Against the wall that has no window is a TV monitor and a PS2 game console, a place to sit and play, and a game running, a simulation, racing: Grand Turismo 3 to be precise. Why this game: it’s a simulation and I like to screw around with these sorts of things.
All these items on the screen are real in the sense that the words I’m using point to real things rather than imagined beings like Hobbits or super detectives. Anyway, that a sim is playing on the console works pretty well for me. A player begins to play Grand Turismo as you would any game, by traying the CD and working through the intro material and figuring out when the fun begins and how to make the fun happen (of course, I mean fun in general). In this case, I begin the game with a few thousand dollars with which to purchase a low-end vehicle. Vehicle options include manufacturers by country. Japan offers Toyotas and Nissans; Germany, Mercedes Benz; US, Ford and Chevy, and so forth. Prices range from 10 grand to well over a million dollars for highend rally and touring cars. Other options include upgrades to any vehicle, such as turbo boosting, stabilty controls, tires (several options here), and a whole host of other under-the-hood and powertrain items, some of which are pretty pricey. In this sim, you can’t just buy and power up whatever you want–you have to earn what you drive. Once a player purchases a beginner car, the money’s pretty much gone and a player has to win purses (by winning fairly simple races) to upgrade that Miata so it has good acceleration, traction (tires range from 5 to well over 15 thousand dollars), stability, braking, and, best of all, competitive capability.
To cut into this for a moment, the room I described before getting to the game is what we might call a first order space or primary space. The room is immediate and can be altered fairly simply; it may even be mine. Even the garden outside the windows is primary or first order (these terms will change, have changed, but they’re good enough for now). The player is in the room, as any person, family member, or thief, might be. That is, the room is part of my regular experience and I rarely think about it. It can be defined, built, and decorated and it also has economic value, significance, and is objective on many levels. The game console is a part of the room, but the game running on it , on the other hand, is second order “reality,” meaning that the images of cars and menus on the flat screen TV have been programmed and designed to “simulate” in its specific context (in this case, the context or desired simulation is a kind of control of kinetic energy and friction) first order space as a Renaissance painter would want to do. The game plays off the CD, on the screen, and inside the room, where I’m playing. It is real, as is the experience it stimulates, but the experience it stimulates is not the same experience of driving a car. Perhaps as the word “cat” is to the animal, GT3 is to racing in terms of visual grammar, but this I don’t know, and it’s perhaps not the best comparison.
I’m the kind of player who likes to just jump right in, and as sims would have it, this isn’t always a good idea . . .