Black Mirror Reflection: WarFace

By Lee Gardner

This episode begins with an unemployed and reclusive 23-year-old named Kevin, who has a passion for first-person shooter video games. Kevin lives with his 93-year-old war torn grandfather, who suffers from PTSD and dementia from his bloody endeavors within the war.

With an increase tax by the government on medication, Kevin begins fearing he will lose his only surviving family member and best friend. He begins researching for a cure and/or remedies to treat these experiences his grandfather deals with daily.

Seeing his only surviving family member live through what seems like a war every day, Kevin decides to search the internet for help. He stumbles upon a website called “WarFace,” a state of the art, virtual reality company that develops video games about wars and combat while studying the effects of what simulated war experiences can do to the brain.

Kevin is warned that the simulations are not federally legal yet, but the company promises to take care of all of Kevin and his grandfather’s medical fees if he does these experiences “off the books.” Kevin agrees and begins the trials that involve multiple war simulations like huge battles that eventually lead to death within the game.

Kevin doesn’t feel any side effects, but cannot seem to match the adrenaline he was getting from the simulations. The ability to die, respawn, and die again with no consequences was a rush he soon became addicted too.

Weeks go by, and Kevin’s relationship with his grandfather deteriorates because Kevin becomes excited to talk about war around his grandfather, and that instantly triggers his PTSD. Kevin eventually decides to put his grandfather in a mental facility so he would have more time to play the VR trials.

After months of testing, Kevin’s mental health begins to slip. Constant ringing and explosions begin to take over his every thought during the day. His sanity begins to slip. “WarFace” recognizes the potential issue they could have if Kevin goes public with his side effects.

In an effort to cover their tracks, they implant a microscopic chip that makes Kevin go through the war simulations every day, all day. This eventually leads to Kevin having a psychotic break in which he cannot distinguish real life from the “WarFace” simulations.

Kevin, while walking home, snaps and ends up strangling a woman, thinking she was an armed enemy in the simulation. After being arrested, he pleads his case about being innocent as well as the existence of “WarFace.”

The court tells him the company never existed, and they were convinced he made this story up to save himself. He is then sentenced to life, but pleads insanity.

The camera then cuts to Kevin’s grandfather playing chess alone in the mental facility until someone is wheeled to the other end of the chess set by an employee. That new member is Kevin.

The camera then begins to pan out as Kevin and his grandfather play chess so mentally fractured that they both cannot recognize each other.

The moral of the story is that with the invention of new realistic technology like VR, there can be a possibility that similar side effects can caused by these traumatic situations, whether it’s physically real or not.

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