Doctor Who Explores A Horrible Truth Of Video Games

"Those pretend people you shoot at in computer games... now you know. They think they're real. They feel it." Way to ruin the fun for everybody, Doctor Who.

"Extremis" is the latest episode of Peter Capaldi's final season of the BBC's long-running science fiction series. In it, the Doctor and his companions are tasked with unravelling the mystery behind "Veritas", an ancient text that cause people to commit suicide after reading it.

The Doctor, Nardole and Bill (whose first date with a nervous young woman is interrupted by the Pope, of all people) embark on a world-spanning adventure that takes them to the Vatican, the Pentagon and CERN, or so they think.

In actuality, the world they're in is an elaborate holographic simulation created by an alien race as a means to test drive an invasion of Earth. The people reading the "Veritas" discover the truth behind their existence. As the Doctor explains to a distraught Bill, it causes a rather extreme reaction.

"It's like Super Mario figuring out what's going on and deleting himself from the game because he's sick of dying."

A chilling sentiment in a very strange episode of what's turning out to be Peter Capaldi's best season as the Doctor yet. It feels like the writers and cast are really making sure we feel the full force of his departure from the role at the end of the series. It's working, dammit.

You can read a full, spoiler-rich synopsis of the episode over at our sister site, Gizmodo.


    Maybe this would have meaning if games like GTA5 had adaptive thinking mechanics for the AI, but all of their little interactions are scripted and pre recorded. There is no actual intelligence and no concept of "pain". This article is the manifestation of someone too high for their own good; stop at three bongs mate, the fourth one kills you.

      Didn't you ever see ReBoot?!

      Actually, it only reinforces your point as the series was about a person who installed games, got his arse kicked by the NPC's and never played them again.
      It was a glaring flaw for an otherwise awesome show.

      I've spent the last ten years catching a train an hour to work, working eight hours, catching a train an hour home, eating, sleeping, repeating.

      In that commute time I will mindlessly stare at my phone screen, not really taking anything in, but a habitual flick, flick, flick of my thumb on a touchscreen serves as a time-passing habit, sans utility. I have my headphones in, listening to the same three albums on my phone that I've always had.

      At work, I will stare at a computer screen for 8 hours while generating the same reports with the same numbers day in, day out.

      So don't tell me AI needs to evolve. We haven't figured out how to give humans independent thought yet. :P

      Have you seen Gamer? There are live people being converted to game AI with scripted and pre-recorded actions so how do you know it's not the same for an AI character?

    That reminds me that Dr Who is a thing. Off to iView I guess.

      You definitely should. Best series we've had in a while.

        I saw the first... two eps I think? Three maybe? But then forgot all about it. TV is hard.

          Lucky. I only learnt it was back last Saturday. Completely missed the first episode... stupid iView and its limited viewing times... Spent the first five episodes thinking I must've missed the whole setup for the Doctor's current ... situation ... and wondering who the hell this weird bald guy was.

    So annoyed Capaldi is leaving, he's been brilliant.

    I guess I just have to be happy he has his sonic screwdriver back, the sonic hipster glasses were killing me.

      the sonic hipster glasses were killing me
      That and Clara "can-do-know-wrong-is-so-great-and-might-as-well-be-a-damned-timelord" Oswald. Thank god she's out of the picture so that Capaldi can actually shine.

        Yeah. Clara was good for the last doctor but a bad match for Capaldi. Still haven't finished the last season because the writing was too bad

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