Skip to main content

Glitch War

A curious thing happened to me the other day while playing a race on Grand Theft Auto: Online. I experienced a true vision of hell.

I took up the game a few weeks ago and once the online component of the game opened up, I plunked down my $60 for the chance to race improbable vehicles around a fictional Los Angeles. For the most part the game is fun, although I have experienced many of the same problems reported by others: the lagging, the strange system crashes, and the legions of griefers. Basically the underlying problem of GTA: Online is one of demographics. The same people for the most part online are the people I encountered during my year-long stint in Call of Duty. Aggressive, humorless, and eager to kill anything that moves. The point of a FPS is to kill as many people as possible in the shortest period of time. The point of GTA: Online is somewhat more diffuse. You can certainly play it as a shooter, joining a deathmatch or one of the more violent missions, but there's also plenty of races and opportunities to rake in GTA cash. In short, this is a MMORG for people who normally have little use for elves and dwarves.

So, the other day I quick-joined this race and immediately noticed that someone had set the vehicles to off-road motorcycles on a drag-race. Weird choice but not enough of a deal-breaker to rage-quit. The countdown started and then, right before 'GO!' three of the eight racers suddenly flickered and disappeared. I pressed the acceleration trigger but my dirtbike would move. All of the remaining drivers were in a similar predicament and short order we did what comes naturally in such moments and started an epic brawl. I was kicked to death and waited for the respawn expecting to land back in the main online session.

That's not what happened.

Instead, I found myself on the exact street where the race began but the only other players were the other people left behind after the glitch. Were in some sort of sub-realm, superficially resembling the main online game but deprived of certain key features. I could enter any of the stores, none of the other missions were accessible, and all of the computer characters simply walked and drove without the slightest indication that my character existed (which isn't how the main game operates). I immediately stole a car and tried to get away from the red dots around me on the map, as within moments of arriving on the board, the 'X' killed 'Y' reports started appearing on my screen. I happened to be carrying a lot of money and didn't want to get robbed. But as I drove I realized the true nature of the world my character was in, that I wasn't in the main game, that I was in some kind of purgatory and that the only actual people were the enraged red dots hard at work killing each other.

I have to say this thought really fascinated me. Still fascinates me. There's that famous quote, 'Hell is other people,' which seemed very appropriate to this situation. I was trapped in a world where all real human beings were intent on murdering each other as quickly and relentlessly as they could. The way you could tell that a person walking on the sidewalk was not real was it had no interest in you. Real people tried to murder you.

I drove back to the killing fields, for the most part near the airport, and got cut down fairly quickly. I respawned back in Glitch Hell. At that point, somewhat unnerved, I switched sessions which put me back in a relatively normal game. I'm still not sure if Glitch Hell was a software failure or the result of someone's modding, but I guess it doesn't matter. What does interesting me is how long the other players stayed in Hell, or if they ever left.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Review of I Wish I Was Like You by S.P. Miskowski

Even 23 years later, I remember 1994 and Kurt Cobain's death. I experienced that moment as a kind of inside out personal crisis. I felt ashamed by his death. As though his exit in someway indicted my own teenage miseries. "I wish I was like you," goes the verse in 'All Apologies,' "Easily amused." I felt as though a check I hadn't remembered writing had just been cashed. 


SP Miskowski's book, named after the first half of that line, is in the words of another reviewer, a novel that shouldn't work. The narrator is unlikeable, unreliable, and dead. The plot is almost entirely told as a flashback and long sections of the novel concern the inner processes of the writer. The daily grind to summon up enough self-esteem to carry a sentence to its logical conclusion is a real struggle, people, but it ain't exactly riveting.

But the thing is, this novel works. It is one of the best things I've read all year and a real achievement in weird ficti…

"A Breath from the Sky" Story Announcement!

I am thrilled to share the news my story, "Promontory," will appear in an upcoming anthology of unusual possession stories published by the incredible Martian Migraine Press. The anthology, "A Breath from the Sky,"puts together a classic H.P. Lovecraft tale and twenty other atypical stories of possession. Judging from the cover and the list of impressive authors, I'm anticipating pure awesomeness. "Promontory" is a possession story and one of my more overtly horror tales, so I'm overjoyed that it found a host, er, home here. I am sharing the Table of Contents below, as well as a link to the announcement on the Martian Migraine website to provide a sense of what this collection will be about. The cover is amazing, the other authors selected for the collection are amazing, and I have to say, having a story appear alongside a classic tale like HP's "Colour Out of Space," feels pretty darn amazing. I hope to provide more information abou…

In Defense of Brevity

As a writer of short speculative fiction, I am also a reader. I was a reader first and my love of the genre leads me to want to write short fiction. I think one of the most important things a writer can do is read contemporary's work. If nothing else, you're likely to be entertained - there's a great amount of stupendous short fiction available out there for exactly nothing. But it also tends to helps to develop craft. 
Long-time readers of this blog know I write up recommendations of a few short stories each month I really enjoyed. "Sic Semper, Sic Semper, Sic Semper by Carl Wiens" was my favorite story of the year. The first line of this story pretty much sums it up: "The time traveler set up a studio apartment in Abraham Lincoln’s skull in the frozen moment before Booth’s bullet burst through and rewired history," but I also enjoyed "The Girl Who Escaped from Hell" By Rahul Kanakia and "Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies," by Brooke Bol…