For me, one of the biggest appeals of playing video games is the feeling of being immersed in them. True, robust sounds and crisp visuals can contribute to my engrossment in a game on their own, but more importantly, it is when these two aspects interact that I almost feel a physical connection to what I am doing on-screen. Last night, my dorm neighbors and I were playing Crazy Taxi on the old Sega Dreamcast I had brought with me from home, and the rush of excitement we all felt as we were playing really got me to think about this.
Released in 2000, Crazy Taxi just may be Sega’s most fast-paced game not starring a blue hedgehog! The main mode of the game has players select one of four different drivers before being placed in a city reminiscent of those in California. Players are free to drive around the city, stopping to pick up passengers of their choosing to take them to their requested destinations. The object of the game is to collect as much cab fare as possible within the specified time limit, and greater pay is given when driving customers around quickly and efficiently. Once time runs out, players are given a rank ranging from A to E (highest to lowest). Combined with the infamous “recklessness” of real-world, urban taxi drivers, this makes for a rather frenetic experience.
It is such a simple concept, but similarly to today’s mobile apps, Crazy Taxi takes such straightforward gameplay and makes it incredibly addictive. As such, despite there only being one level to drive around in, I keep coming back for more. At first glance, my urge to play this game seemingly stems from the desire to beat my high score. However, upon closer scrutiny, I feel that my appreciation for the game comes from the sensory experience it brings.
Not only is the sheer sense of speed complimented by upbeat music (tunes which were likely popular seventeen years ago), but the auditory impact of the sound effects in general works with the game’s frantic nature incredibly well; the racket of horns honking, cars crashing, as well as pedestrians screaming as they narrowly avoid my terrible driving, all constitute an experience which I can only describe as “rollercoaster-esque”, and I love it! In my opinion, the most satisfying of these sounds comes from driving past other vehicles at high speeds without collision, in which a “cha-ching” plays, indicating that the passenger is paying me extra tips for my (somewhat) good driving.
Last night, I took notice that every satisfying “cha-ching” I received made me feel giddy inside, and that I kept wanting more. As my dollar score continued to rise quicker and quicker, I felt my heartbeat speed up, and therefore, I became increasingly pumped up. It soon became clear that I was not the only one who was now excitable once I managed to obtain an “A” rank, one of my neighbors cheered so loudly that all of Brumbaugh Hall could hear! I will always remember that as a fun night, especially as a reminder as to why I love video games.