Intraplay Interent Gaming Spot

When the first-person shooter game Counterstrike became popular, so did Intraplay, our local Internet gaming center. The room was packed with top of the line computers and hardware coupled with the fastest and very reliable Internet connection speeds. Although I was never a huge CS or computer game fan in general, my brother and most of his friends were hardcore gamers with apparently no lives, just sitting in front of their computers all day clicking away at little men on the screen.

It wasnít too expensive to play at Intraplay for a couple of hours and my brother and his friends loved to frequent the cafť. One day, with nothing better to do, I decided to tag along. I bought a cup of Cup Noodles from Intraplayís snack bar and sat down to watch my brother play. Apparently Intraplay wasnít too worried about eating and drinking next to their expensive computers. And apparently, they didnít know Cup Noodles isnít the same without boiling water because they didnít have any to give me, yet they still sold me the noodles. In any case, kids were at the computers playing not just CS, but other online games such as Warcraft III, Starcraft, Brood Wars, and such. However, CS was definitely the most popular. They even had quality surround sound systems.

The thing with computer and video games that I never really understood was whatís so fun about pressing keys on your keyboard and moving your mouse or joystick around? That is, after all, all youíre doing when you play these kinds of games. Unless there was an excellent storyline to the game, I just couldnít understand what was so fun about these games. It wasnít like Ghost Recon at Golfland where you actually held a replica gun in your handand pulled the trigger. It wasnít like airsoft, which is more real than any game now could ever simulate.

Yet, millions of gamers were drawn to the thrill of FPS games like CS. Reviews raved about the realism of the game down to the very detail of virtual veins on virtual arms. Was this simulation a close enough simulation of the real thing (counter-terrorist vs. terrorist show downs)? I saw my brother and his friends become completely immersed and mesmerized by the action going on their 21Ē monitor screens. To them, Iím sure they must have been nearly completely absorbed into the virtual world. This led me to wonder how this could happen. Then I realized it was quite simple.

It worked in this way: the simulation on screen must be sending signals to their brains that made them feel it was real. Consciously, yes, they know the game is fake, but as theyíre playing you can tell they are absorbed. The simulation doesnít have to be an actual rendering of the real gun fight. The simulation can be more of a representation. The best analogy I can come up with is a good book. You get sucked into the story, you forget itís not real, you feel you are actually in the story, experiencing it for yourself. You can see the world the author has created in your mind, you can almost touch the characters.

The question Iíd like to bring up is, what then, is a simulation? Is it an exact copy of something, an attempt to copy something, or just something that provides a loose representation of something (perhaps through a completely different medium)? Is there a difference between simulation and representation? What about the original real, which Baudrillard claims becomes negated by the simulation. In fact, the simulation negates itself. Does it even matter if nothing is real anymore? What good is the original if a copy can be just as good or often times even better? What good is having the concept of being real anyways?

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