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IP_DEBUG and the Human Condition
by: Victor Lobelia | January 4, 2002

To the best of my knowledge, "easter egg" is computer game-speak for any snippet of media, whether it be graphical or audio, that the programmers deliberately sneak into a game for their own amusement. I like the idea, and certainly approve on the grounds that it is only natural for the "Gods" who create these electromagnetic universes to place hidden artifacts of their own personalities within them.

An easter egg at work...

However, for the sake of the following observational meanderings, I would like to append and extend this definition to include: unconsciously adding allegorical elements into the debugging function of the game for the enlightenment of the human race, made possible by long hours of intense concentration, excessive caffeine (perhaps marijuana?) use, and sleep deprivation that induced periods of trance in which symbols from the collective unconscious that map the terrain of the fundamentals of reality and social interaction are made spiritually clear to the programmers and thus, manifest.

Although my argument could extend to such debug functions as "ip_timemultiplier" (demonstrates time as a malleable and artificial human illusion), "TAB character shifting" (raises many questions about the nature of identity), "i key cutscene view" (a demonstration of precognosis), or the "F9 teleport command" (quantum metaphysics in action), I wish to focus on the three Graphics Rendering Modes (Ed. note: see cheats/bugs page). Each of which represent a singular state of awareness.

I. Normal View - The Fool

This is the view with which 99 percent of Hitman enthusiasts are soley familiar. They stray the course of the game, searching for targets, searching for clues, searching for weapons, yet never searching for meaning. The player knows that he wants to kill Lee Hong. He knows he wants that safe combination. He knows he wants to make it to that motor boat, but he doesn't know why. This superficial level of awareness is not the result of density, however, a prolonged existence in this three-dimensional world (which is actually only two-dimensional) of endless spectacles, suspicious gazes, and death screams can actually create an environment of spiritual atrophy.

Ahh... sweet, sweet normality

This illusory playing field becomes reality for the duration of the session, and as veteran players must admit, even for a short while after the session ends. The laws of the game spill over to the player's "real" life, and for a few moments, people seem like polygon-based automatons just waiting for the fiber wire to be slipped around their necks. This is the material world. The code is all layed out. The paramaters of the missions are presented by some unseen authority at the beginning of the game, and the player does everything he can to succeed. The player is not trying to figure out WHY the man on the sidewalk is staring so brazenly. He does not know WHY a beautiful girl like Lei Ling chose a life of prostitution. He cannot be bothered with explaining WHY some walls disappear when you get close too them. His concern is completing the mission. His goals are fleeting. They amount to a void.

However, this state of ignorance does not always have to be so vacuous. It is known that if the right attitude is held, there can be bliss and poetry in the game life of one who exists in the here and now. There is the Hitman who takes time to admire the beauty of the waterfall in Lee Hong's garden, or to watch the show in the Hungarian strip club. A sensuous man who drifts through and savors his hallucinatory environment. The visual artist, the innocent child. In the mystical Tarot deck, the Fool. In the Kabbala, the number Zero.

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