“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.
“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.