Last but one…. Power Play and the Prison Project

I encountered this video last year when I was youtubing for leisure. I felt that it is an interesting extension to the issue of power play and interactivity. For those who haven’t bothered watching it here is a short description. This video is from a British reality TV show by this chap called Derren Brown. He is an accomplished physiological illusionist and hypnosis. n this clip, Brown claims to have created a video game he calls “Waking Dead” which “is able to put roughly 1/3 of the people who play it into a catatonic trance”. In this episode he places the video game in a pub, to lure a supposedly unsuspecting patron into playing the game. He then “kidnaps” the catatonic “victim” and places him in a real-life recreation of the video game, having him fire an air gun at actors, pretending to be zombies and outfitted with explosive squibs. I don’t know whether it is real or made up for good television but nonetheless it raises potential questions about the role of puppet masters and players in a controlled game environment.

Although not exactly a power play in the strictest of sense, Brown’s experiment asks the basic question of whether a realistic environment endorses interactivity or that the two are not strongly related. Here is a case of the ‘puppet master’ exercising complete control over the player. The player is given a gun but is not specifically told to do anything.The goal is the user’s creation. Although the choice of running away is open to the player, he chooses to fight (the obvious choice); but since the zombies never dies and he is locked, the hyper realism of a a horror game in the real world almost makes him collapse. It is only then that the ‘puppet-master’ emerges and chooses to interfere. Here the immersion effect heightened to realism and yet the situation is controlled and confined to the boundary of the carefully designed room. Also the player is under some sort of trance like state and hence cannot be thought to be capable of intelligent judgement. The environment may be real, but the control structure makes it more like a interactive fiction than a successful game play. It is much akin to video games than to the genre of power play. It also shows that realism of the environment is not always the sole factor determining the interactive nature of the game.

In contrary, power play provides user with certain rules and instructions to follows and objectives to fulfill using the real world as a stage. The nature of the environment, in this case is physically unrestricted, although the game may impose certain restrictions by way of instructions. The physical independence provides the user with an illusion of complete interaction without realizing the fact that all form of interaction doesn’t form a concrete part of the game and hence does not necessarily forces the ‘puppet-master’ to respond and hence under the definition of the game world does not constitute an interaction. Baring all these, what attracts me to power play is the real time interaction and real time response of the ‘puppet-master’ and the relevance it has for our project 2 – the prison break.

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One Response to Last but one…. Power Play and the Prison Project

  1. alex says:

    Very interesting video – I do wonder if its real, though, as I would think there are many ethical and legal issues involved in doing something like this…

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