An anonymous reader writes "Nick Rush-Cooper has an insightful article at Rock, Paper, Shotgun about his visits to Chernobyl. He's made many such trips for research purposes, and he's mapping radiation levels in the Exclusion Zone, which can 'vary by tenfold or more over the space of less than a meter.' But he's also a gamer, and he's played S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl and other titles that take place there. He writes about the unusual perspective this afforded him: 'If you travel and recognize something you have seen in a film, that's visual recognition. You're seeing something you have seen before. With games it's a recognition of experience, not just a visual memory of a three dimensional space, but the sense of being somewhere you have been before. Even in Call of Duty 4, which uses Pripyat just as much as an aesthetic choice with little meaning as many movies have, its shooting gallery still requires the player to think of Pripyat as a space that requires positioning; identifying firing lines and choke points. It wasn't until I was actually in the Zone myself that I realized to what extent the games manage to capture the sense of the Pripyat landscape itself as a malevolent, even antagonistic, presence. Of course, guided tours in a hot, sunny summer bear little resemblance to Stalker's world. But, as an invisible presence known only through little blinking, chattering devices, I never really got used to radiation during my two-dozen trips to the Zone.'"
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