I frequently have those crossover moments when games become more real than real life itself. When you catch yourself planning a double jump. When you dream in Tetris blocks. When shooting an explosive barrel seems like a good idea.
One of my most memorable gaming experiences came when I loaded up Silent Hill. After the prologue cut-scenes crept away, the horror adventure title left me to wander through a desolate place cloaked in fog as some solitary pixel snowflakes descended.
After a couple of hours, I put down the controller for a moment, got up, and looked out of my living room windows. It was January — the light outside was pale and failing, a fog settled around my house, and now I noticed that a light flurry had materialized. The climatic conditions outside seemed to directly mirror those in the game, albeit in a more high-tech, high-fidelity way.
It was such a strange recursive feeling, as if I were in some suburb of Silent Hill playing Silent Hill. Then after some more time, I triggered an event that caused the wan global illumination to snuff out –day suddenly turned to night. Again, I broke free of the mental hold the game had on me to notice that it had become night outside.
That was the strongest feeling of immersion I have ever experienced while playing a game.
And it was completely arbitrary and emergent. It's not as if the developers where hiding outside, regulating wind, fog, and smoke machines to give me the best possible experience — this happened outside of designer intent.
Maybe it didn't sync up exactly like that (my memory may have been colored a bit), but it sure felt like it. I love that feeling…that thought where for a moment you think — beyond all reason and logic — that a game world has taken over the real world…made it over in its image: a mechanical and aesthetic transmogrification of life and mental processes.
I also recall playing an obscene amount of Halo 3 multiplayer with my three roommates and (after finishing another round) seeing my roommate, Gabe, look out of our window at just another nearby New York City apartment building. He wondered aloud to himself with total conviction, " I bet I could snipe that guy from here." Later during that semester in the throes of academic delirium, I scanned the exterior of my building and seriously thought that I could bypass the elevator with a few well-placed portals.
This happens all the time. Stories of people reorganizing their desks as if it were a game of Tetris are fairly common. So, what meta game crossovers have happened to you? Playing Read Dead Redemption inside your Texas ranch? Poor golf tips gleaned and practiced from Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11? Experiencing a nightmare in which you were a jewel that was swapped?