On Bulletstorm’s Echoes

This is quick, like an echo.

Bulletstorm has a game mode in which you replay the most violent sections of the game over and over again in order to get the highest score possible in a kind of time attack challenge. The scoring system, if you’re not familiar with the game, is absolutely diegetic; special forces troops are equipped with nanomachines that monitor their activities in combat and reward the highest performing squad members. If you’re not good at fighting, you have fewer points and you can’t resupply. Without supply, you have no ammo, the world chews you up.

I go back to these scoring moments over and over again. I’ve played through them all, and when I’m bored with other games or I don’t want to do any work I load into these memories and play them out the same way over and over again.

I tell myself that it is about competition, and to be honest it isn’t that much of a lie: it is rare for me to get caught up in a competition. It has only happened with a few games, and when it gets me, it gets me hard. Geometry Wars 2 had me logging in every single day to beat the scores of everyone I knew. Team Fortress 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 could get me caught up in a match where I just had to win.

But the echoes get me in a different way. There’s no one to compete with–no one on my Live list even has the game. It is just me, getting stars, accruing points.

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