Déjà Joué

James Tauber just mentioned on Twitter:

“is it bad that I just saw a photo of Stockholm and immediately recognized a stretch of road from PGR2, rather than when I was actually there?”

This is something I’ve been thinking about recently. As game graphics improve, the realism levels become close enough to fool our brains into creating something like “real-world” memories for the worlds we’re experiencing in gameplay.

For example, when I visited California for the first time, I was stunned by the feelings of familiarity I felt in response to stuff I’d experienced while playing the super-realistic Grand Theft Auto: Vice City; little things like the way traffic lights were mounted above the road, the design of the curbs, etc., the level of detail for which Rockstar received a “Designer of the Year” nomination — because of this, the streetscape of a typical Californian street was instantly familiar to me.

The same thing happened this weekend, watching footage on TV of Arizona’s Monument Valley. Naturally, I’ve driven a dirt bike around Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas‘ version of this. ;)

Update: another one is the Pripyat level of Call of Duty 4, which would be extremely familiar to anyone viewing these photos from a real-life visit.

I think this phenomenon needs its own name. “déjà vu” is similar, but different — that phenomenon occurs when the memory feels erroneously that an experience has previously happened, whereas in this case, the experience has happened — albeit virtually.

I’ve come up with a phrase to describe this: “déjà joué”. (In French, that’s “already played”, analogous to the “already seen” of “déjà vu”.)

What do you reckon? If you like it, feel free to use it ;)

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  1. Posted November 11, 2008 at 14:55 | Permalink

    Excellent! Now to start throwing it around as much as possible and you should see it cropping up in general speech in a year or two :-)

  2. Simon Cozens
    Posted November 11, 2008 at 15:16 | Permalink

    “The Getaway” taught me all I need to know about London’s geography.

  3. Posted November 11, 2008 at 15:50 | Permalink

    I wrote about something similar a while ago. That’s a wonderful term for it!

  4. Posted November 11, 2008 at 16:50 | Permalink

    I was amazed when I visited Las Vegas after playing GTA:SA through. They did a great job on a lot of the casinos and the street feel.

  5. Rockmaster
    Posted November 11, 2008 at 18:36 | Permalink

    I felt déjà joué when I went to the Santa Monica pier after playing GTA: SA. I totally expected there to be a grenade behind that hotdog stand.

    Vice City was modeled after Miami, btw.

  6. Paul Carey
    Posted November 11, 2008 at 20:10 | Permalink

    Been there! Love the phrase.

    A flip side is being outside, in the real world, and deciding that something looks fake – color’s off, lighting’s not quite right…

  7. Posted November 11, 2008 at 22:13 | Permalink

    Justin there was a similar situation for footie fans with the original Sports Interactive Championship Manager series as people would see footballers who they had managed in the lower leagues come to public prominence. Someone would mention the likes of Miquel De Souza in conversation and the CMers would recognise one another.

  8. Posted November 12, 2008 at 10:48 | Permalink

    ‘Vice City was modeled after Miami, btw.’

    Yep. Still, there was a lot of similarity to California urban design; but I’d say if I visited Miami I’d be thoroughly blown away ;)

  9. coc
    Posted November 13, 2008 at 15:42 | Permalink

    Not literally, I hope.

  10. coc
    Posted November 13, 2008 at 15:45 | Permalink

    Maybe déjà joux is a more catchy version?

  11. Posted November 13, 2008 at 15:52 | Permalink

    @coc —

    yeah, it would be, but unfortunately it’s not valid Francais :(