Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What's The Obsession With Car Crashes?

This is an interesting article I stumbled across from Jalopnik, a car enthusiast blog that is affiliated with Kotaku.  Read it here.  Of course, I'll rehash it as well as offer my two cents.  This pertains to real-life crashes although it could carry over to video games like *ahem* Burnout and Split/Second.

Basically, car crashes are popular videos it seems.  People can't look away because it's so horrible.  The main reason why is because there is some morbid curiosity in us all.  We want to see what it's like to have a brush with death without actually putting ourselves at risk.  Sort of like "Wow, that was painful, but I'm glad it wasn't me."

A good example of this is horror movies or pranks you pull on friends.  So why do people watch this crap?  Because many liked to be scared, frankly.  Somehow, being scared ties in with laughter--ever notice how after you're shocked you start laughing?  Well, there's something in your brain that connects fear and laughter, I guess.  Roller coasters and other dangerous rides are another good example.  Normally, if you're flung 90 mph down a hill in a coffin-shaped car, odds are you will crash into something and become severely injured or killed.  But thakfully, that car is hinged to the track below so you get to experience the "whoosh" while being safe.

Of course, to tell you the truth, I hate crash footage, horror movies (new slasher flicks anyway), and roller coasters (afraid of heights).  I guess I get my kicks from driving fast cars, something which I haven't had the luxury to do...yet.

Another reason why is because people like the risk-reward involved.  Risk is fun--no use playing a video game if you can't lose, now do you?  EDIT: Like how friendly poker players say "Let's make it interesting," and throw bets on the table.   Frankly, some people get tired of following society's norms--wear your seatbelt, don't drive fast, stay in your lane.  So whenever someone goes fast, you want to know what happens.  Just cause.  Risk makes everything more interesting.

Wow, that Iraqi burnout was unexpected.

Ever watched a police chase show and you almost rooted for the criminal to get away?  Well sometimes...but we want to see justice served.  Just to see if society's values are carried out--good guys win, bad guys go to jail and die.  Usually, the people in the crash videos are guilty of breaking the rules so they "deserve" it.

Also, it's been said that a few people have been in police chases purely for the excitement--because they were bored.  Now that's a huge extreme, but sometimes I want to drive fast although I'm too much of a coward to take big risks.  Last thing I want to do is end up behind bars or six feet under.

Final reason, and the article doesn't mention this, is that people just like seeing stuff get blown up.  Expensive cars, houses, stuff coming to an end.  See Wrecked Exotics, a page for all sorts of banged-up luxury cars (I can't look!!!).  The logic is if they don't have to pick up the tab for the damage, then what does it matter?

So I guess for all the reasons above, you can't have a racing game without big wrecks.  That's not necessarily a bad thing but when it becomes the primary focus of the game (Burnout, Split/Second), it's almost like they care more about spectacular devastation than the actual driving itself. more thing.  Do you think games like Burnout will ever be blamed for aggressive driving?  Kind of like how Counter-Strike was blamed for school shootings?  It may have been done before--I wouldn't be surprised.  EDIT: But so what, Burnout is awesome for kids, ya herd???   But wait--I did notice one line from this review that I should point out:

Didn’t like: This game is perfect, except, when you get really good you might go so fast you can’t see anything. Blazing speeds when you use the boost trigger.

Is it just me, or when playing these games, it's hard to see what's coming up on you when you're going fast?  And it's not because you're going fast, but the camera angles and the visuals can be disorienting.  Like you have a rocket on your ass.  Wait a minute, I just lit a rocket; ROCKETS EXPLODE!!  At least you can see where you're going in a Sega racer...sheesus.

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