Tap to tag a friend

WatchDogsPS4You don’t have to look very far in Ubisoft’s Watch_Dogs to see how much time they’ve put into creating a realistic and immersive world, and with every person inhabiting the virtual Chicago having a back story, you could spend hours upon hours poring over every minute detail – some of it tragic and some of it funny.

But part of the fun of Watch_Dogs is what i’ll call the ‘meta-game’ – the personal and unique tales that will be talked about amongst friends and on the internet – that makes it such a stroke of game design genius.  The ability to share all of this quickly and easily with the new generation of hardware just perpetuates an already inherently ‘social’ game premise.  Watch_Dogs will stay in the public consciousness by virtue of the spontaneity and uniqueness of everyone’s personal in-game experiences.

As we’ve seen with Mario Kart 8, and the now infamous Luigi death stare meme, games now have a much wider reach than previously, with a propensity to go viral than unmatched by any other time in gaming history.  As a result these games are being defined not by playing them necessarily, but how they are being disseminated virally online.

While Mario Kart 8 hasn’t necessarily brought out the inner online media socialite in me, Watch_Dogs has, and I’ve found myself sharing all manner of videos and screen captures online.  Some were of incredible one-off moments and others of interesting profiles of the plethora of people populating the incredibly dense world Ubisoft has created.  But it wasn’t until I posted a screenshot of a profile of one Spencer Lawley-Jones on Facebook that I realised the potential for Watch_Dogs to be the first game to show the potential for videogames to invade the mainstream online consciousness, and the almost boundless potential for fan fiction to exist outside of the game itself.

You see I came across Spencer Lawley-Jones walking around a normal everyday suburban Chicago street.  An unassuming 30-something man wearing a baseball cap, a nice woolen jumper, and a pair of jeans – Spencer was the kind of guy you’d take no notice of.  Working as a bank teller by day, he’s the kind of guy you’d imagine would invite a few friends around on a Friday night to watch the football.  He probably drinks, but not a lot, and his main vice is the once a month he gets together with the guys from the office for a poker night, where he’ll smoke the only cigar he’ll smoke until the next poker night, and will lose $20 because his poker face isn’t so good.  He’s your average hard-working American joe.

He also happens to have been fined for indecent exposure.

I was taken aback by the revelation about Spencer Lawley Jones, so much so that I felt the need to share it with friends and family.  And that’s when Facebook asked me to “Tap to Tag a Friend”.   I considered it for a moment, “who could I tag as being the guy fined for indecent exposure?”, but decided against it for fear of hitting a raw nerve or accidentally upsetting someone.  But I took a screenshot of the moment for posterity, because years from now it is moments like these – moments in real life – that will define my memories and personal relationship with a game that I think will be remembered as a leap forward in immersion in video games.

WatchDogsScreen

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Tap to tag a friend

  1. lewispackwood

    Glad you’ve been enjoying Watch Dogs! With this game, Wolfenstein and MK8, we’ve been spoilt in recent weeks…

    Having said that, the more I read about Watch Dogs, the less keen I am about buying it. I was hoping for something more revolutionary, but it sounds like the same old gritty urban gunplay of the type I’m not keen on. The Kotaku review was excellently written, did you see it? Do you agree? Or are they being too harsh?

    http://kotaku.com/watch-dogs-the-kotaku-review-1585242059

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    • I just read it and wow it’s incredibly harsh. I think the cynics in the gaming press, and perhaps the internet more broadly, expect some sort of gameplay revolution that will never come. Watch Dogs nudges things forward in the gameplay department, but takes enormous strides in world building. It’s an open world game that makes the open part interesting at a time when I’ve become fatigued with sandboxes. I think you should give it a go.

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      • lewispackwood

        Cheers, I probably will give it a go at some point, although I’ll wait for it to come down in price first. I’m more excited about Wolfenstein: The New Order though, that looks more up my street 😉

        Out of interest, which do you prefer, GTA V or Watch Dogs?

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      • I couldn’t even finish GTA V (you may remember my post on it). I didn’t enjoy that game AT ALL. So Watch Dogs!

        And yes you have a lot to look forward to in Wolfenstein. Absolutely brilliant game, and the best shooter I’ve played in years.

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