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Driving in San Francisco with JG Ballard - badgerblog
October 25th, 2011
10:53 am


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Driving in San Francisco with JG Ballard

The video game I'm currently playing my way through [1] is Driver: San Francisco (which, incidentally, rdansky worked on the writing of). The setup of this driving game is an undercover cop whose crash-induced coma allows him to "shift" into any other chosen driver in the city: hover out-of-body, pick a car, shift into the driver, and drive. (Other passengers may react to their friend or relative's sudden demeanor change.) Not really much for driving games in the past, but the body-jump game mechanic adds an interesting instant gratification of "wonder how that car over there handles?" "how quick can I get down Lombard Street?" or "how far a jump can I get if I take that dump truck over that ramp, and can I get it airborne long enough to complete a 360 long axis barrel roll at the same time?" The main storyline is interesting, or you can just drive the Earth town, having adventures, like Caine in Kung Fu. But I digress.

I'm a much worse driver in console games than I am in real life: I hit other cars a lot more often in games, almost entirely through lack of consequences and partially because I didn't do driver's ed with a small joystick for steering. The shift game mechanic combined with repeatedly colliding with other cars (especially when drifting) reminded me of J.G. Ballard's novel Crash. So then:

Ballardian DriverSF: Possession as impact-transmitted disease

Game state: Free driving. You can play Ballard-style in a mission or scenario, but it will probably interfere with completing the immediate task.

Car: Any.

Rules: Whenever your vehicle makes contact with another vehicle, shift into that vehicle. Play relay race up a road with your POV as the baton. Hold the accelerator down and go as long as you can between collisions. Only tag and shift into red cars. Service vehicles. Whatever. Almost any pass-the-time-on-the-road games you played as a kid on long car trips, just with collisions and possession added.

[1] Gaming cuts into valuable reading time. Argh. FWP.

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