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…

What I Read in 2017

The third in my series of year-end lists is literature. As in past years, I've divided this post into two categories: Novels and short stories. Each of these stories made 2017 just a bit brighter for me and I hope this list includes at least a writer or two new to you.


Novels:
I Wish I was You by SP Miskowski: This was the subject of a review earlier this year. The way I feel about this novel, the tragedy of a talented person crippled by anger and regret, transformed into a monstrous avatar of wrath, has not really left me. Beyond the perfection of its prose and its preternatural subject matter, I feel like this is one of the best evocations of the mid-nineties I've seen published. There's something about this book that lingers with me long past the concerns of its plot and characters. I guess what I'm trying to say is this work moved me. 2017 would have been a lot dimmer if I hadn't read this work.New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson: Robinson writes next-level sp…

Review of "Pretty Marys All in a Row" by Gwendolyn Kiste

Part of the reason American Gods works is that it offers a kind of reward to folk lore mavens and religious study majors. Do you have a working familiarity with obscure Northern European mythologies? Are you able to describe what Neil Gaiman got right and what he fudged a bit in terms of the Egyptian religion? Then the guessing games of that novel - just which Middle Eastern Goddess is this? - magnify its other charms. 
"Pretty Marys All in a Row" by Gwendolyn Kiste (released by Broken Eye Books), is a novella for people, like me, who are waiting impatiently for the next season of Bryan Fuller's show. It's not set in that universe, certainly, but approaches the question of folklore from a similar perspective. Namely, that myths have a definite, physical explanation and your knowledge of such things will expand your enjoyment of the work. In the case of Pretty Marys, the stories are urban legends and nursery rhymes about young women. The main character, Rhee, is named…