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Video: Running with the Grand Theft Auto deer

Deer in a violent video game landscape.
Artist Brent Watanabe creates an artificially intelligent deer that roams the virtual landscape of the video game, Grand Theft Auto V. 1:28
Listen9:19

What happens when you let an AI deer run loose in a video game?

That's the premise of the San Andreas Streaming Deer Cam, by artist Brent Watanabe. The deer isn't a real deer at all. It's an animated virtual deer, programmed to wander through the video game Grand Theft Auto V.  

You can watch as the deer wanders autonomously through the game's landscape, interacting and responding to the environment and other AI characters within, controlling its own actions, experiencing what "it" wants.

The video game takes place in fictionalized San Andreas, a violent gangland, and certainly no place for a deer.   

"To see this hapless deer wander in this gigantic environment, none of which is designed for it, I think is kind of sobering." - Brent Watanabe

It's mesmerizing to watch, but why?

"The piece touches on very universal themes," explains Brent, "simply like longing and suffering and on our human relationships with wildlife and farmed animals. And what technology and human progress is doing to other creatures on Earth." 

Brent says he has some changes planned for the deer in the coming months. Until then, you can watch the live stream of the deer as it wanders the streets, explores mountains, beaches, and sometimes even the bottom of the ocean! But fair warning, it can be quite addictive! 

Sometimes the hapless deer even manages to find himself in the Grand Theft Auto ocean.

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