Sunday, February 3, 2008

Vice City Tour Guide

Strange experience: Last December I was walking around Miami for the first time in my life. It was late, I was drunk, the air was wonderfully warm and I had this uncanny feeling that I had been on that street before. I could almost sense my internal map telling me the direction of the beach, the direction of little haiti and little havana etc.. I could feel it because somehow I knew it. And then I realized what it was: I HAD been here before, in that Sony Play Station 2 game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. It had taken place in Miami and after spending many many many hopeless hours car jacking, picking up hookers and listening to their incredible talk radio, I had learned how to drive around Miami. This was a genuine shocking video game meets life experience.
I then began thinking that video games could actually be fun ways to learn about towns. You could have the exact map of a city, you could have local bands playing in the clubs, you could see what beers were on tap where, you could car jack anybody and learn early on where the drugs can be scored. I mean this virtual tour guide thing could be a real hit. You're sitting at home in Houston and you say to yourself, "I wonder what it's like to walk around Tokyo." Well don't waste all that time being disoriented in the real thing! Buy the video game, get used to the town and then presto, by the time you land in the airport, you'll know where the subway is, what hotels you like, where you like to hang out, what type of cultural experiences are illuminating, which are simply onerous. I'm telling you the video game tour industry is the future!
-March 15, 2006

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