Crispy Gamer

Clothes make the gunman

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There's a lot of talk about free-running lately. Perhaps it's because the usage of the buzzword in Brink previews has made references to Mirror's Edge materialize seemingly all over. I love the mechanic, as it plays out in Mirror's Edge, because it takes the first-person conceit so literally. You see through this virtual person's eyes; therefore your view of the game world should emulate a physical set of eyes. You can look everywhere, you can look down at yourself, you'll see the world heave up and down when you run, and see it spiral nearly out of control as you roll underneath some piping or fall off a building. (Need for Speed SHIFT seems to be doing something similar, making the virtual race as paradoxically physical as it can be.)

 

It's a thrilling feeling. And it speaks to what, for me, is the most profound thing about modern-era games: the way they use technology to give you an experience that's equally emotional and physical, some weird fusion of the two that makes you finally believe the dichotomy between mind and body is false. The way they use controller and image to make you one with the world, the things that happen in it, and the things in it that matter, as if human meaning could be generated by a machine and injected through fiber-optic needles into your eyes and fingertips. In the movie eXistenZ, which is about a virtual reality game in the future, the game controller connects directly into your spinal cord. That's a pretty apt metaphor for how uncanny these games can feel. Only music comes close to connecting the physical and the emotional like this.

But, anyway, that's just a theoretical preamble for a funny thing I noticed on our site today. In Evan Narcisse's excellent Father's Day list, there's an image of the protagonist from BioShock using the Incinerate plasmid.

 
It contains one of the many small and easily overlooked details about this game that makes it so incredibly three-dimensional. It tells you that you're wearing a scratchy, olive-green, very 1960s wool cardigan. You'll see your sleeve whenever you use one of these plasmids, which will be often. This really takes you back to the time. It's a smart and, in this case, lurid way of pointing to your own subjectivity. It's just as much about displacing your body into that of another as the free-running technique is, but it's a lot cheaper.
 
 
This got me thinking of other first-person outfits that have been distinctive. Unfortunately I couldn't think of many. Maybe you can help. My favorite was this shot of No One Lives Forever's Cate Archer holding a banana. The juxtaposition of ultrachic spy glove and very tasty-looking banana pretty much sums up this series for me.