At the time of its 2012 release, Max Payne 3 was amongst the most realistic video games on the market for its genre. Killing people never seemed to tangible and Payne, a former NYPD detective was in a new stage of his life. He’s older, more world weary, and cynical. Nine years after seeing his wife and child brutally murdered, Payne moves to São Paulo Brazil and becomes a vigilante.
It’s this story that informs Jon Rafman’s “A Man Digging”, in story in which Max Payne, becomes aware of his existence inside the video game. Payne tells viewers how much he craves the real, referencing the game’s advanced technology, but says he can’t stomach it. Scenes of massacres and bullets flying back the narrative. “So like other people, I traded it in for stories,” he says, before noting that he’s stuck in the game. “Memory is not a tool for exploring the past. It is the medium for experiencing it. I am a man digging. I have to go back again and again.”