Avatar Failure, or “I Cannae Do It Captain!”

Today Nico Bellic, protagonist of GTA IV and thus my current avatar, failed me. You see, we were chasing a subway car which was running along elevated railed. You know, the usual, it had bad guys we had to shoot in the face on it, and we were in a hurry to do so. So our mission, then, was to “follow that train car!”

Which we proceeded to do quite well. I watched the little red dot on the mini-map in the corner of the screen and guided Nico around the streets below the train. Then, despite the fact I could see the dot and we were really close, Nico shrieked something like “Damnit! I’m losing them!” and the mission was officially failed.

The implication here is that it was Nico, not me, who had to be able to “see” the train as it moved along. This, then, is one of those crappy moments at which the game quietly snips the connection between you and your avatar. But it’s somewhat unique and interesting because usually it’s the other way around – usually it’s you, the player, failing the avatar. As I’ve wailed about with respect to Mirror’s Edge before, it’s all too common to feel embarrassed as you lead your supposed skillful and talented avatar to fall off yet another rooftop. Player fails avatar. But Nico failed me. Despite the fact that I could see the train and had everything under control, he panicked like a little baby and couldn’t live up to the idea that we two were one.

Essentially, Nico didn’t trust me.

8 June 2010
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