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Inspired by Video Game, Teenage Girl Leaves Home and Travels 10 Cities in 18 Days

The 15-year-old from Uttarakhand got so addicted to Taxi Driver 2 that she wanted to be on the move constantly and ran away from home to live her life like in the mobile game.

by Shamani Joshi
22 July 2019, 1:20pm

Photo via Pixabay (left) and screenshot of the game Taxi Driver 2 interface (right) 

Simulation games can sometimes be a cathartic way for broke millennials to tick off travel destinations from their bucket list. Especially with high-graphic video games like The Sims or GTA that replicate all kinds of experiences, you can drive a car even if you’re not legal, have sex with someone who isn’t your significant other, and even fly a plane without a license. But every once in a while, there’s a crossover episode and someone gets so carried away with a video game that they feel the need to live their life according to the game rules.

A 15-year-old girl from the Udhar Singh Nagar district in Uttarakhand got so taken with Taxi Driver 2, a South Korean simulation game that lets you be a taxi driver and drop off people at various locations, that she decided she absolutely had to emulate the game in real life. So, she ran away from home after stealing more than Rs 12,000 and began an explorer’s adventure across all cities in India.

“In the game, the taxi driver picks up passengers from various places and drops them at different locations by overcoming various obstacles. She wanted to play the character in real life by visiting different cities in the country without staying at one place,” investigating officer, sub-inspector Vipul Joshi who questioned the girl after she was found, told Hindustan Times.

Missing from home since July 1, this girl managed to make her way to ten cities, including Udaipur, Ahmedabad, Pune, Rishikesh and Delhi in a span of 18 days. Her parents had filed a missing person complaint at the local station and the police had been trying to track her down, but always ended up being too late when it came to reaching the spot she was last at. They even travelled to Jaipur after she used her brother’s email ID to book a bus, but only reached eight hours after she had already left. Her adventure was ultimately cut short by the police who found her near Kamala Market in Delhi on July 18.

Since she was a minor and needed an identity card to get a hotel room, the girl decided that she would travel and rest in sleeper buses at night so she could explore new cities every day. She didn’t take a bath throughout and survived on a staple diet of chips, biscuits and water.

The teenager has now been safely reunited with her parents, who gave a statement saying they didn’t even realise she was playing this game. “When she was using her mother’s mobile phone, we didn’t know what she was doing. We are fortunate that she is back with us without any harm,” said her father.

But this teenage girl’s video game-fuelled wanderlust is a classic example of just how far people are willing to go for a game. On the surface, Taxi Driver seems like a harmless simulation game, but at what point does controlling a cab start controlling your life?

The WHO lists gaming as a disease, and given all the recent PUBG-related deaths, it’s important to draw a clearly demarcated line between the games people play and the reality that revolves around them.

Follow Shamani Joshi on Instagram.