Monday, September 30, 2013

Hot Dog Homicide

The guys in my freshman dorm section—myself included—used to play large-scale multiplayer sessions of Grand Theft Auto 2 over the campus network. This was in the fall of 2001, probably in the short window between 9/11 and the release of GTA III for the PlayStation 2. I don't even remember who it was that furnished the original copy of the game, but we all pirated it onto our laptops.

Those death matches were a lot of fun. The game would start and you would find your little avatar placed in some random location of the sprawling city. Your safest bet—regardless of your positioning—was usually to get your feet off the pavement and into a vehicle as quickly as possible. The easiest and funniest kills involved simply finding and running over anyone who hadn't yet managed to steal a car.

Our afternoon play sessions didn't last very far into the semester, which is kind of a shame. There was a quality to those matches that was both Darwinian and democratic. None of us had come to the game with any prior experience, so nobody ever dominated. We were equal-opportunity psychopaths.

A few of us struck out on our own and tried playing the single-player game, and that's when we got a taste for what the GTA experience was really about. I distinctly remember huddling around some friends and watching a dorm mate play one particular mission that involved rounding up random, unsuspecting citizens on a hijacked transit bus and driving them to a nearby meat-processing facility. From there, a Russian mafia boss tells the player character to go to the top of the cage and supervise (which really just means watch) as the passengers—now stripped naked—are brought in and forced at gunpoint onto a conveyor belt headed toward the grinder.

I think our collective jaw dropped at the scene that unfolded—crude sound effects of people sobbing and pleading, a cluster of reluctant victims running backward off the belt and being mowed down by machine gun fire. I couldn't have been the only person to notice the resemblance of this massacre to a particular historic event, now being turned (whether intentionally or otherwise) into some kind of cartoonish parodythe punchline being a hotdog delivery van filled with fresh cannibal chow.

“That's fucked up,” said the guy playing the game, and he was right.

Still, we couldn't help but laugh—just a little bit—if only at the sheer audacity. Or maybe just to counter the shock.

No comments:

Post a Comment