Hello, my name is Charles and I am a digital Uber driver. It is not a job by choice but more of necessity. I drive the digital citizens of California, more specifically the San Francisco area, around on crazy missions. One time I had to take my stolen car off-road to chase a drone. Another time I spent majority of the day helping a newly relocated East Coast resident explore the city in a bid for cool prizes. I do this because I must, more so because I cannot survive the tidal wave of information that floods my screen. My phone is constantly vibrating, begging me to scan a new song I’ve never heard or to explore a new area for research points. Focus is a commodity and my phone wants it all. Of course If my phone can’t monopolize my time, the city will take the rest- invasions by other people whom I have no idea whether they are here to help or hurt. It is fucking madness. It’s Watch Dogs 2.
A World Full of Distractions
Watch Dog 2 is life imitating art. It demands the spastic attention of a high school digital addict. The open world that is presented is not one in which you can take a casual stroll. Focus is a premium, one that you cannot afford. You must bend your attention in a hundred directions. Missions are not meant to be completed, but started and halfway finished. You cannot cruise through town because every stop is a chance for a selfie. A chance to hack another phone or pick up another package. There is no room for thought because the game is constantly feeding you information.
Like Doom, Watch Dogs 2 is a fun game but a game that is not meant for me. As an older millennial I find myself at the crossroads of full on digital citizenship and the peace and tranquility of the Luddite movement. Yes I enjoy social media, but I’ve also come to enjoy the peace that comes from turning notifications off and occasionally placing my phone in the other room so I can focus on the task at hand. Games usually serve as my escape from the hustle of real life. The constant emails and group chats. It’s a place for me to unwind. Except with Watch Dogs 2.
From the minute I started the game, the distractions were on full tilt. Marcus’ phone never stopped ringing. Seriously, it was like living a day with all of my app notifications turned on. I could never focus because there was never a chance to focus. It was the first time I felt old. But I’m sure for someone on the other side of the millennial pool this is probably the first game that mimics their daily activities. But it made me wonder if flood of input could actually be too much of a good thing. When I think of games like Grand Theft Auto and even Saints Row, there is order to the chaos. There is actual time to focus on the task at hand. Time to reflect on the experiences happening on-screen. It’s why I took to driving Uber in Watch Dogs 2. It was the only time I could just relax and take in the sights. Sure the phone would buzz but like driving in real life, I just let it ring and focused on the task at hand. It allowed me to enjoy the game. But when I jumped out of the car, the fun was over.
It’s hard to focus on a mission when you’re 30 seconds into task given to you by DeadSec, only to be told there is an even better and more fun mission ready for you to go do…like right then. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish Watch Dogs 2. Especially with Horizon Zero Dawn waiting to be downloaded. It’s a well put together game but a cautionary tale of what can happen when you let life imitate art. Sometimes you gotta turn those notifications off and enjoy the moment.