“Real, unreal what’s the difference? As long as you don’t get caught”
– Trickster (Brainscan 1994)
Brainscan was a brilliant nineties film starring Edward Furlong (Terminator 2 1991) about what the wii would be like in a perfect world and the reason the film really interested me was because it laid bare this vital truth about video games; they’re all about murder.
A slight slippery slope of an argument coming up but please stay with me. We live in a time where people can socialise online they can visit casinos and virtual strip clubs, they can shop and take tours of places without ever having to meet with anyone condescending, so why can’t they kill? Online hunting is currently locked in legal battles with animal rights groups trying to have it banned all over the globe. For anyone who is not familiar with online hunting it’s basically the commercialisation of remote control robotics that fire guns instead of make coffee. Similar to the ones used by the military to clear caves or go anywhere an american soldier might encounter ghosts, but you pay to shoot at animals rather than foreigners.Supposedly it’s targeting disabled people who can’t go hunting or just lazy people who can’t be bothered to put on a high visibility jacket and wellies. The possibilities are limitless, literally
turning killing into a game, setting up this strange nexus between real and fantasy. There are enough accidents that happen in real hunting imagine how many ‘accidents’ will happen when the person is just clicking a mouse and feels no real responsibility for the lives they’re taking because they feel so removed from the actual act as they’re not actually there. It’s very much like Brainscan, it’s basically a film about a video game where you commit a murder but it actually happens in real life. So that being said why not online murder for people that want all the thrill of being a serial killer without all the mess.
It goes without saying that it wouldn’t exactly be legal but since when has that stopped anything on the internet? Half the allure of the internet is that it’s basically the wild west of information, too big and too wild to be tamed by any law enforcement agencies but I think it’s fair to say it’s also a pretty scary place when you think about it. I still support that idea of real freedom even though it inevitably leads to deviance.
What I’m trying to say is; what if, like Brainscan, someone could make a real murder feel like a video game? People could in theory be tricked into murdering someone with an on-line game, and have no idea that real people were being killed as a result of their actions, it’s possible but wholly unlikely. On the other hand why couldn’t a killer wait outside a house with webcam on his head and an earpiece in his ear to receive instructions from a paying customer how to commit a murder? The pretense would basically be that the killer was going to kill regardless and the customer would simply be paying to choose the method and tools used. Basically it would be up to the customer to suspend his disbelief to whether it was real or fantasy and would probably get the benefit of the doubt in a court of law. There could be a massive market for selling someone a murder fantasy that could be entirely staged but still leaving room for doubt. You may ask yourself ‘what’s the point?’ but you could say that about almost anything on the internet. What’s the point of putting a cats face through a piece of bread? The fact is it doesn’t have to make sense, it’s just supply and demand and there will always be demand for the taboo.
Video games are already used to train pilots and terrorists use them to map locations they plan to terrorize. It seems really strange when you think back to the Robin Williams film Toys (1992) of which the premise was that the military were making toys that could kill controlled by kids who thought they were playing video games and looking at today’s predator drones (the unmanned remote control bombers used by the US Military) and realizing the only difference is they’re not controlled by kids, just under developed macho man children. Where do you draw the line when murder is legalized and a click of a mouse away?
The reason I love video games is that they’re honest, they operate on the principle that there’s a killer in everyone, they just allow the killer to come out and play.