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.
https://player.twitch.tv/?channel=bwatanabeWatch live video from bwatanabe on www.twitch.tv
Yesterday, in Barcelona at the launch of Samsung’s new Galaxy S7, Mark Zuckerberg told the audience that virtual reality is “going to change the way we live and work and communicate.” As a result, the BBC has jumped into hyperspace today. This morning the stern John Humphrys had a vertiginous experience with a headset at a Kasabian concert, and Technology Editor Matthew Wall wrote a wide-ranging overview “Can technology help us improve upon reality?” .
A couple of weeks ago I began my own lo-tech experiment with VR when I treated myself to a Google Cardboard kit. I’ll be writing about it soon, but meanwhile if you already have Cardboard or GearVR check out this video about WildEyes, a VR project for kids based in American National Parks.
Andrew Marr with Jane McGonigal, Jo Marchant, AC Grayling and Simon McBurney.
Source: BBC Radio 4 – Start the Week, 08/02/2016
There was a time in the 1990s when I played Tetris®” target=”_blank”>Tetris every night before going to sleep. The falling blocks calmed my mind and soothed me into slumber. As anyone who has played it knows, after a session of Tetris it takes a while to stop seeing it continuing behind your eyelids, but even that experience is quite pleasurable. The game is discussed in quite a number of research projects, such as its role in the treatment of victims of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Jane McGonigal mentioned this phenomenon today on BBC Radio 4’s Andrew Marr show. It’s a wide-ranging conversation about the influence of the mind over the body, well worth a listen.
On Start the Week Andrew Marr talks to Jane McGonigal, a designer of alternate reality games, about her latest innovation which consists of SuperBetter: How a gameful life can make you stronger, happier, braver and more resilient” target=”_blank”>SuperBetter: A Revolutionary Approach to Getting Stronger, Happier, Braver and More Resilient and its accompanying free online game. Designed to aid her recovery from a brain injury and subsequent depression, the game reportedly gives people a sense of control over their own health. Harnessing the mind in the fight against chronic illnesses is the subject of Jo Marchant’s book, Cure: A Journey Into the Science of Mind over Body” target=”_blank”>Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body, which looks at the latest research into the science of mind over body. Rational thought and magic went hand in hand in the Renaissance period and the philosopher AC Grayling looks back at the life of John Dee – mathematician, alchemist and the Queen’s conjurer. The actor Simon McBurney tests the limits of perception and human consciousness as he recreates what it feels like to be lost in the remote part of the Brazilian rainforest.