One Black Mirror episode that caught my interest a couple of nights ago was 'Playtest' but before we dig into that, Black Mirror is a British television series that made its debut in 2011. I'm not from Britain so I caught the series via Netflix which just aired, more likely streamed, recently. If I were to describe it, it's Twilight Zone clashed with modern and future technology added with a dash of modern living stupidity.
The episodes in Black Mirror are different in nature but would align to the mind-blowing standards of the Twilight zone, and technology should play a major role in each of them, though sometimes you get to be drawn in that you forget it's a tech driven episode. And did I mention Stephen King digs the series?
What does this have to do with gaming?
(Spoiler Alert) As I typed in on the first paragraph, 'Playtest' features video games, survival horror in particular. The episode starts with some drama over family tie issues, some dude decided to find himself by travelling around the world, leaving his newly widowed mother at home. Fast forward (stay with me on this), Cooper met some girl Sonja at some bar in Britain, spent the night together and had some bonding. Sonja also revealed she writes articles for video games (happy now?). When Cooper was ready to go home, he realized his bank account got hacked, and with his pride about not asking help from mom (mum in the UK) he ended up going back to Sonja's pad. They then got this job posting online from a big gaming company, owned by a Japanese that reminds me of Kojima, who specializes in survival horror. Cooper jumped in to take the jump as a game tester, and the Twilight Zone effect started from there.
How is this the future of survival horror?
(More Spoilers Ahead) When Cooper clocked in for his first day, and probably his last (insert evil laugh), he had some nano-chip injected into his nervous system. The chip has the power of a super computer, probably a hundred times, and supposedly projects photorealistic images in the user's point of view. To simplify it, once you have the chip, you sort of hallucinate (super advanced Virtual Reality so to speak) that something is there but it really isn't. At this point, Cooper was already aware that the system will play with his mind trying to scare him based on his fears, ergo survival horror.
The fun part? Well, it's main application is to use it for survival horror but to a level that will drive you nuts. Instead of projecting pre-programmed monsters or ghosts or clowns, the system learns from your fears and start to root from there. So if you are afraid of spiders, which is Cooper's case, then spiders would pop out. As extra special feature, the spider would evolve into something like mashing up your bully's head inside of a giant spider. Cooper's horror starts to get worse when the graphic 'projections' start to interact with and physically hurt him, at start the company says that it's only visual.
The 'game' was in prototype stages which from there you can predict that something terrible would happen. Even though I have said much spoilers, if you watch 'Playtest' yourself, there are tons of twists still in it that you'd say that what I wrote was just the tip of the iceberg. Though, I got one statement that could have saved his life (yes, he died, sorry) and that is to 'love your mom/mum.' Check out the featurette below, and might as well watch the episode on Netflix. I also based some of my reviews on the episode here.