“Sometimes it pays to just be along for the ride.”
September 18, 2019 7:22 AM   Subscribe

The joy of being a passenger in video games [Polygon] “The question I’m interested in today is what you’re missing out on due to always wanting to drive in games. And modern gaming has multiple ways it can make us a passenger. So what happens when the virtual wheel is taken out of your hands? A lot of good things, it turns out. [...] These rides are an important chance to have a few introspective moments during single-player games, or to let the tension build in multiplayer titles. Being a passenger allows the player to make a deeper connection to the world, or the other players in it. Giving up control to an NPC or another player while in a vehicle isn’t a flaw, as long as game designers know how to give you something else in return. It’s that trade-off that I find so fascinating, and being a passenger so often in real life has given me a deep appreciation for the games that do this well. So pay attention the next time a game takes away control while you’re in a vehicle, and ask yourself what the game is trying to achieve by doing so.”

• Watch a City’s Politics Shift Through the Rear View Mirror of Your Cab in ‘Night Call’ [Vice Gaming][Game Trailer]
“Bit by bit, I realized I didn’t really know the character I was playing in Night Call. Its use of a second-person narration, the fact that occasionally I could influence what my cabbie-turned-detective said and did during his nightly rounds and investigations, tricked me into thinking that I was meant to see the story through his eyes. Then one of his passengers—a regular, the narration had told me—struck up a conversation with him and said a few things that made me realize the narrator was lying to me, and “my character” was nearly as much a stranger as the people he spent his nights ferrying around Paris. He is the most interesting mystery in a game whose detective-work is almost a misdirection. That’s the blessing and curse of Night Call, a visual novel from Black Muffin and Monkey Moon Studios that just came out this week on consoles and PC, and which is also available right now on Xbox Games Pass. Many of its characters are mysteries worth exploring and investigating on long, nocturnal cab-rides through an animated film noir version of Paris, and none is more intriguing than its evasive main character. ”
• Snakeybus Challenges You To Drive A Bus That Keeps Getting Longer [Kotaku][Game Trailer]
“In Snakeybus, as in life, you are your own greatest enemy. The game, in which you drive a winding, multi-sectioned bus that grows longer every time you drop off passengers, skillfully communicates a busload of resonant platitudes. Don’t look back, lest you collide with your own globe-encircling tail. The only way forward is through—at least, if you’ve got enough boost fuel to rocket over yourself and essentially play jump rope with your own body. And of course, a classic: The past always catches up with you, no matter how far you drive. Snakeybus is, at its core, a simple game. Though snake-like in form, your bus is more like a shark: it has to keep moving, or else it dies. In an explosion. Initially, avoiding this grim but inevitable fate is easy. You’ve just got to move your normal-sized bus between crowds of passengers and then ferry them to their destinations. An arrow guides you, like in the Sega classic Crazy Taxi. ”
• Neo Cab is an emotional survival game about the last ride-share drivers [The Verge][Game Trailer]
“In the quiet, dreamy world of the recently announced game Neo Cab, gig workers are a dying breed. Technology has evolved past the need for flesh-and-blood drivers behind the wheel. Those who remain offer a different kind of service: human contact. “[Riders] want to talk to another human being and connect with them and share their story,” says creative lead Patrick Ewing. “There’s that taxi cab confessions angle that fascinated me — like anybody could get in this car.” During her rides, Lina wears an item that tracks her emotional status. “Think of it as a Fitbit for feelings,” Ewing says. “It measures the physiological experience of your emotions and mirrors it back to you as a color.” Rude or mean customers may make her angry or depressed, which prevents her from responding in an upbeat way; maintaining a cheery attitude may keep her conversations pleasant, but tire her out. According to Ewing, this isn’t just a ride-share simulator but an “emotional survival game” that should be familiar to many service industry workers.”
• Inspired by Video Game, Teenage Girl Leaves Home and Travels 10 Cities in 18 Days [Vice Gaming]
“A 15-year-old girl from the Udhar Singh Nagar district in Uttarakhand got so taken with Taxi Driver 2, a South Korean simulation game that lets you be a taxi driver and drop off people at various locations, that she decided she absolutely had to emulate the game in real life. So, she ran away from home after stealing more than Rs 12,000 and began an explorer’s adventure across all cities in India. “In the game, the taxi driver picks up passengers from various places and drops them at different locations by overcoming various obstacles. She wanted to play the character in real life by visiting different cities in the country without staying at one place,” investigating officer, sub-inspector Vipul Joshi who questioned the girl after she was found, told Hindustan Times. Missing from home since July 1, this girl managed to make her way to ten cities, including Udaipur, Ahmedabad, Pune, Rishikesh and Delhi in a span of 18 days.”
posted by Fizz (9 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I think one of my favorite examples of "riding" in video-games is from the Half Life series. Riding in trams/pods and going deeper into the Black Mesa Research Facility is both beautiful and terrifying. I've never forgotten those moments, the sounds. Also, learning some of my moves by jumping around and hopping on seats. It's a unique experience.
posted by Fizz at 7:32 AM on September 18, 2019 [8 favorites]

Night Call seems interesting and its been on my wishlist for a long time. Snakeybus is new to me and that looks really fun. The Metal Gear series has a few moments throughout where you're a passenger and they let you just control where you're looking or focusing on.
posted by GoblinHoney at 7:56 AM on September 18, 2019

Elder Scrolls: Skyrim also opens with one of the most memorable rides in all of video game history.
posted by Fizz at 7:57 AM on September 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

In GTA I like to jump on a train and relax. If you take pot shots at things, it confuses the hell out of the police chase algorithms. You can be notorious and chill at the same time.
posted by stonepharisee at 7:58 AM on September 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

I like how this is a sort of giving up of control that is distinct from a cutscene. Cutscenes undermine the very nature of interactive media. Choosing to get on board a train (as opposed to being railroaded onto one) is a different prospect.
posted by rikschell at 8:12 AM on September 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

I remember both the Half-Life traveling and how majestic I felt on the back of a WoW Griffin vividly.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 11:12 AM on September 18, 2019

posted by ardgedee at 11:31 AM on September 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

This is honestly one of the most enduring qualities for various battles royale for me: being in one of the passenger seats while my brother or one of my friends drives our addled crew of survivokillers around a landscape that wasn't really primarily designed for tourism, just enjoying (or during certain bumpier bits not particularly enjoying) watching out the window or over the rollbars or off the back of our car or jeep or boat. There is something a little bit magical about the shared ride, like friends piling into an actual car without the actual car or being in the same state.
posted by cortex at 4:43 PM on September 18, 2019

Sometimes when you think you're enjoying the train ride in a game, you're just wearing a fancy hat.
posted by autopilot at 1:31 AM on September 21, 2019

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