S3E2: Playtest

Recap

The episode begins with Cooper packing up his bags to travel the world. As he gets in the car, he is seen ignoring a phone call from his mom, which he frequently does because he is unable to really connect wit her after his father’s death from Alzheimer’s.

After matching with Sonja on a tinder-like app in England, they meet and he admits to traveling the world to get away from home. He opens up about his dad’s death and how he lacks a connection with his mom like he had with his father. After his credit card was hacked, he nearly calls his mom but backs off the idea. He uses an app called Oddjobs to find a job to get the money to get back to the States. Through Oddjobs he lands a gig at a video game company called SaitoGemu. After entering the facility, Katie asks Cooper for his cell phone to turn off. After she leaves the room to get the rest of the contract, he quickly turns his phone back on to take a picture of the equipment to send to Sonja.

Cooper plays a game of whack-a-mole with a 3D projection and is amazed by the technology. After the demo, Katie asks Cooper to be the next volunteer for the new game they are working on. It is state of the art intelligence software that learns and adapts on the fly. It monitors brain activity and learns how best to frighten and then adjusts the experience accordingly.

The first visual Cooper sees is a spider. It freaks him out but he claims he won’t let this stuff scare him. Things start escalating and he sees different things from events that have been showed or discussed earlier in the episode.

Sonja knocks on the door and claims she led him there by hacking his bank account, drew his attention to the job, and then said, “you should’ve called your mom but instead you called me.” She approaches him with a knife and then stabs him in the back. They fight and then he eventually rips her skin off and stabs her in the face.

Cooper wants out and uses the safe word. They tell him the game will end when he gets to the access point. He walks to the room at the end and gets emotional about his mom. Katie asks him to describe his mother and then continues asking him questions because the technology is overriding his memory. He doesn’t even recognize himself anymore. Katie is in his head saying, “Soon you’ll be just like your dad, that’s what really scares you.” Then the voice in his head said that he should’ve called your mom and that you abandoned her. He has reached his breaking point.

It was all in his his mind…

The episode ends with Cooper in the chair going crazy yelling “mom” as he receives a call from her that interferes with the technology, forcing every synapse in his brain to light up at once, killing him in less than one second.

Themes

Don’t run from your problems. In the episode, Cooper coped with his father’s death by just running away. He was afraid to try and connect with his mom and instead rather just ignored her and ignored what life was like back home. Through the episode we see him realize that he should have just picked up the phone and talk to his mom.

Smartphones: how much is too much? Cooper was constantly on his phone. The flight attendant had to ask him to turn off his device while gaming on the plane, he documented everything from his trip on social media, used a hookup app to get a girl, used the app Oddjobs to get a job, and ultimately died because he couldn’t listen to directions and keep his phone turned off. Smartphones are an absolutely amazing piece of technology, but they should not have our attention 24/7.

What is real anymore. Technology in today’s society pushes the limits. Everything can be done online (dating apps, job apps, gaming). We are getting away from the traditional way of doing things and especially with VR, it is important to keep what is real away from what is fake. Life is not a game and you can’t just quit and go back if you don’t like the way something turned out.

JOUR 325 says . . .

 

Questions

  1. What was the scariest scene of Playtest?
  2. How far away do you think we are from this episode in reality?
  3. Why don’t we think Cooper called his mom?
  4. Does VR scare you? Would you have done anything close to this?
  5. If you could change the ending of the episode, how would you end it?
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