During my various visits to Los Angeles over the past months, I experienced a mentally displaced feeling when visiting locations for the first time physically that I had previously visited in the computer game Grand Theft Auto 5.
Unlike visiting locations that had been used in movies, in which the view of the control is by the camera, visiting game locations affords free exploration and building a mental model of the area.
Thus, I was able to walk around Santa Monica Pier for the first time in reality with a level of spatial knowledge that I had built from its virtual counterpart.
While the game had not modelled every detail exactly, it was close enough to experience a prolonged state of deja-vu as the virtual knowledge was overlaid – not quite fitting – to the new reality.
So I stood in my best GTA character pose – minus the automatic rifle – and took a photo of myself that I then recreated in game after I returned home to England.