Eric’s Descent

“She hasn’t seen this look on his face before. Scared but resolute also. “There’s not escape key here. No way back to Game Shark hex cheats and them high li’l overflow stunts, no more happy times, now the only way left for me to go is deeper.”- Bleeding Edge Pg. 345

In this passage Maxine is conversing with Eric about a cyber-attack on Ice and hashslingerz through the use of a program Eric created called the Vomit Kurser. Eric describes the program and its method of attaching Ice’s databases, which worries Maxine as what he’s doing may very well be illegal. He then gives the quoted passage, affirming his resolve to do whatever it takes to discover Ice’s secrets, no matter the cost.

In his dialogue, he mentions the GameShark as he talks about how he can no longer leave this path he created. GameShark is a brand of video game accessory that is used to cheat in a game. Sold for many different consoles from the 1990s to early 2000s, it was used by many gamers to edit the code of the game itself to produce changes. Early GameShark models came with pre-set codes for various games that could be implemented with no severe problems in the game, but newer versions allowed users to directly interact with the code of the game, changing sections of the memory and then testing the game to see if any gameplay changes were made. GameSharks are no longer in production, although most old models can be found online and can be downloaded for free (Wiki).

I think Pynchon’s reference to the GameShark is significant because it blends well into the time and Eric’s choice of attack. The GameShark peaked around this time, before widespread internet sharing enabled easy transfer of the GameShark software and when the consoles were relatively simpler, allowing easier access to the memory and data in the system. Since it has been out of production for so long, finding sources has been difficult. I have used different GameSharks many times before, so I used my personal experience along with what small things I could find online for researching this topic (even Wikipedia’s sources are dead). Eric in his program is using pop up ads to place Trojan viruses on hashslingerz computers, giving him access to the memory and allowing him to change whatever he likes. This is precisely what the GameShark allows a gamer to do (Mad Catz).

Eric (and Pynchon) may have chosen the GameShark to comment on Eric’s inability to escape the path he chose. Hackers are typically talented computer experts using their talents for good or evil by breaking into computer systems. Many times hackers can be anonymous in their pursuits by being careful with the code that the write and using tricks and quirks on the internet to keep their location and IP address hidden. Eric is implying in this situation that he can’t back out because he went too far. One of the recurring elements in the book seems to be people who went too far and are paying the consequences. Lester was siphoning money from Ice, Windust was in over his head in the 9/11 plot, Reg is threatened while filming hashslingerz, Tallis has Ice controlling various aspects of her life, March can’t stay in one place for too long after posting the stinger video. Maxine manages to escape this situation for now by walking away when she finds Windust deceased. Eric is slipping down the path that these others have followed, but hopefully he is skilled enough at hacking to prevent himself falling into the same shoes as everyone else.

Works Cited

“GameShark.” Wikipedia. Jan 7 2015. Web. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GameShark

“Instruction Manual for GameShark SP.” Mad Catz Inc. Web.  http://www.manualslib.com/manual/515605/Mad-Catz-Gameshark-Sp.html#manual

Pynchon, Thomas. Bleeding Edge. New York: Penguin Group. 2013. Print.

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3 Responses to Eric’s Descent

  1. Dandy Mott says:

    I thought it was interesting how you equated a gameshark to placing viruses on a computer. I think at one point when I was a child, I had a game shark for my gameboy, but I don’t think I ever really grasped how it worked, just that I could use it to cheat on a game. Now that I have learned that gamesharks “directly interact with the code of the game, changing sections of the memory,” I can now see how you are comparing it to a virus.While I do agree that Windust and Lester ultimately paid the price for going “too far,” I am not so sure about Reg and Eric. At the end of the novel, they are on the road with their bleeding edge technologically, I’m not convinced they are paying consequences for earlier actions. Also, Talis seems to be in a decent position after Maxine helps her out.

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  2. rivaiheichou says:

    The GameShark brings waves of nostalgia to me. Those were fantastic days in my childhood. That being said, I completely agree with your comparison between it and a virus. Considering the GameShark is not meant to be a hostile device, but it is meant to slip around back doors in games to exploit offsets and registers that would normally be unreachable (except by playing the game the old-fashioned way), this can be likened to the first ever computer worm. Created in 1988, at Cornell (if memory serves), the Morris worm’s purpose was to find out roughly how many people in the U.S. were connected to the internet at that point. That’s all. However, the code involves a random multiplication of itself within the computer, as it could be prevented by a technically-savvy person. Morris did not want this, so he implemented that multiply function to compensate for all the people who could delete the worm before it sent its data back to his computer. It was this simple innocent curiosity that caused hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage.

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  3. bagelbite13 says:

    Dandy Mott, while I agree that Reg and Eric might be in the clear for now, I don’t think they, or Talis for her part, were always in the clear. I think, similar to what smaugonthewater said, they did pass the point of no return. All three of those people were in grave danger at one point or another but they escape simply because of the recent distractions Ice has been troubled with. If Ice hadn’t gotten too big for his own good, I certainly think he would have a team hunting all three of them down.

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