It’s the middle of the night in the San Andreas mountains and a deer is wandering through the undergrowth. The crickets are really loud, sometimes an owl hoots, and traffic can be heard in the distance beyond the regular clip-clop of hooves. The animal heads downhill towards a cluster of houses, gallops through a courtyard and runs out onto a highway where it’s narrowly missed by a speeding car. For a while it wanders slowly down the middle of the road as vehicles slow to a stop to let it pass until eventually, inevitably, it’s hit by a truck. But count to three and it’s upright again, unharmed, and trotting down the verge once more.
You’re watching a deer cam with a difference. Animal cams are generally popular because they let us watch creatures in the wild and from a safe distance, a reality TV for birds, bears, and numerous other species. But the San Andreas Deer Cam is being live streamed direct not from a forest or a woodland clearing, but from a video game. Artist Brent Watanabe has programmed the animal directly into Grand Theft Auto V, and you can watch it live on Twitch TV. Needless to say, in that kind of environment it frequently gets shot or hit by a car, but since it’s indestructible it just pops up again and keeps on running. It’s not completely immortal, however, because the project is due to end on April 20th 2016.
Watanabe explains that the San Andreas Deer Cam is a live video stream from a computer running a hacked modded version of Grand Theft Auto V. The mod creates a deer and follows it as it wanders throughout the 100 square miles of San Andreas, a fictional state in GTA V based on California. The deer has been programmed to control itself and make its own decisions, with no one actually playing the video game. The deer is ‘playing itself’, with all activity unscripted… and unexpected. If you donate money to the Deer Cam, it goes directly to The Humane Society. Find out more at his website and make sure you see it before the closing date.