Sunday, March 4, 2012

Gaming Reality

Sometimes science fiction movies may seem too far off from reality; but when you take a closer look you may discover that that is not always true.  The movie Gamer is one of those movies.  Video games have become an important part in many people’s lives.  Now-a-days they can create their own avatars and live in a fictional world through their video games.  According to a survey American gamers spent over 13 hours a week playing in 2010, and the average gaming time keeps rising. Americans are spending over 7% of their time living their own fictional reality.  The avatars people create and they themselves have a close relationship.  Avatars are like actors playing a script written by the player.
The movie Gamer aims to show a futuristic world where mind-controlling technological advancements allow people to control other people. In this movie death row inmates are given 30 sessions during which they are controlled and played by other humans; a game that very much looks like Counter Strike or Call of duty; except in this case they are not computer-made avatars, they are flesh-and-blood humans being played as avatars.  If they can survive these 30 sessions they would be set free.  Simple video games such as the ones mentioned above are taken to the extreme and turned into a reality in the movie.
The identity of these inmates, called “slayers”, is taken over by whoever is controlling them.  Technically the slayers have sold themselves and their identity in order to get their freedom back.  This is where the movie reflects a world that is very similar to ours. The slayers are somewhat like soldiers from the army.  The reason why the inmates decided to take part of this game was because they wanted freedom and a better lifestyle than the one they had in prison.  When the army recruits people they offer a lot of things, but most importantly they focus on your economic future.  So, when people sign up for the army one of the main reasons why they do it is to be economically stable.  “In March 2007, the overall unemployment rate was 4.4 percent.  In just 18 months it spiked to 9.8 percent, creating a boom for military recruiting… In the military... older recruits see ‘a stable job, stable income.  The younger generation [is] seeking a way to pay for college.’" (Weak Economy Draws Middle-Class Recruits.)   Army recruits and slayers decide to take part of this “game” for the same basic reason: to better their lives; even if it means running the risk of getting killed in the process.

Once the inmates in the movie sell themselves to be part of the game, they are in total control of the player.  The slayers are like puppets to the players.  They follow the orders and do as the player pleases.  Army soldiers are somewhat like slayers in that sense.  Once they are recruited they MUST do as their commander says.  In boot camp they have no other choice but to follow the rules and do as they are told.  They are being controlled.  In the battlefield they open fire only when they are given the order, they go where their commanders send them, and they kill who they are told to kill, just like the slayers.  They both are in danger of being killed, yet they can’t do anything about it but to follow orders.  They are the puppets playing the game.

In the movie Gamer there is also a thing called “society” which is made up of people who just like the slayers are being controlled and played by other people in exchange for money.  This society reflects the sexual fantasies, and wildest thoughts from a great amount of people in our own society.  In Gamer’s society women were seen as sexual objects, which is not too far from true.  Some women in our real society are in fact sexual objects. Just like the people in the society there are real people who sell themselves for money.  An example of this can be prostitutes.  They too sell their bodies and are at mercy and control of the buyer.  The relationship between the prostitute and the buyer is technically the same as the relationship between the player and the society person they play in Gamer. 

Other people in real life, just like in the movie’s society, are in a way being controlled by other people too, though not of course with controllers like the movie suggests.  We live in a society where since infants we were taught how to act, speak, and behave. We grow up thinking something is right or wrong according to what the standards say. And who makes up those standards? People of social high ranking class do, rich people, the ones in power.  Everyone in their own unique societies and cultures are in a way programmed to be the persons they grow up to be.  Social class in this world is very important.  In the movie Gamer the people that controlled and played the slayers and the people in society were rich people.  We all know if you have money in this world, you have power.  The rich class people are the ones that own the big companies, run the politics, and rule the world.  They make up the rules and standards.  Poor and middle class people just work for them to make a living; we follow their rules and their standards which is like being controlled by them.  Our identities are developed upon the rich’s view and ethic of right or wrong, and normal and deviant.  But we don’t usually realize this.  We just live as we were taught to.

This movie may be science fiction and it is supposed to be years from now, but despite the technological advancements, we can still relate what happens in the movie to today’s reality.  Playing videogames is a good distraction from the stress, but one has to be careful and make sure you can distinguish it from real life.  The real world may be hard and tough but is better than living a fictional one.  Gamer is a perfect example that shows how a video game can became a reality.

Works cited

Eddie Makuch. “Time spent gaming on the rise – NPD.” Gamespot.  N.P. May 27, 2010. Web. March 3, 2012 <>

Tom Philpott. “Weak Economy Draws Middle-Class Recruits.” N.P. October 22, 2009. Web. March 3, 2012. <,15240,204238,00.html>

Waggoner. “Videogames, Avatars, and Identity.”  N.P. N.D. <>


  1. Erick,
    Its shocking to see how many hours some people dedicate to the virtual world and this was something in 2010, imagine the numbers now? I like the comparison you did between the slayers and the soldiers. You have a good point when saying the slayers are like soldiers because they want a better future not just for them but also for everyone else around them. I also like how you used infants as an example of controlling. It is interesting how we see nothing wrong with “controlling” the infants in our own ways but controlling something else is wrong. You are right when you say that video games are a great distraction to stress, however, a lot of something is never good, especially when you start questioning reality from the virtual world.

  2. Erick,

    I really like your take on Gamer and how it relates to real life. The army is a good example of a different type of "Slayer." Great use of resources, by the way.

    I want you to elaborate a bit more about your take on "Society's" wealth gap, rich vs. poor paradigm. Can you give us examples of a real-life "Society" the way you used the army as an example for Slayers? I think it will only enhance your argument.

    By the way, you don't need to put the web address on your "Works Cited." Just type "Web." The rest looks fine.