When you saw Cars 2, or played the Cars 2 videogame, did you ever wonder what it would be like to be a real spy? Well, now we have been given a small glimpse into the world of espionage through an interview with former CIA agent Lindsay Moran. Ms. Moran was a consultant to the developers of the Cars 2 videogame, where she was able to share her experiences as a spy to help keep the game similar to real spy training. She now tells us a bit about what her life at the CIA was like, and how prepared players would be for the world of espionage.
Who is your favorite Cars 2 character? Why?
Finn McMissile. He never loses his cool, like the ultimate professional spy.
You have said in previous interviews that you were inspired to become a spy at an early age thanks to the Harriet the Spy books. Was being a spy at all like you expected it to be?
Not exactly. I am the first to admit I had a very Hollywood-inspired and romanticized vision of what it would be like to be a spy. Still, in some ways, it was even more interesting and challenging than I ever had imagined.
What was the most exciting part of being a spy? The least?
To me, the most exciting part was living overseas, learning new languages and blending into foreign cultures.
Which is more exciting, real spy work or the game?
The game is exciting in that it really gets your adrenaline pumping, the same way being “in the field” – or operating overseas – can. In some ways, the game is more exciting. For instance, a lot of people don’t realize that in real life, as an operative who’s being followed and wants to lose whoever’s on your tail, you’re supposed to drive under the speed limit, obey the traffic laws and basically “bore” the bad guys to tears. There’s little opportunity to practice all the defensive driving techniques you’ve honed in training, unlike the game.
How similar is the Cars 2 game compared to real spy training?
The game really brought me back to my training, and specifically a course we took at the Farm – the CIA’s spy training facility – called “Crash and Burn.” It was a course in defensive driving, in which we raced around tracks, smashed through barriers, and even drove while blindfolded. Actual “missions” involve a lot of driving since before you ever do anything operational, or meet with an agent, you need to drive around for at least an hour or two to make sure you’re not under surveillance – being followed. Many foreign intelligence services have sophisticated surveillance teams; as a “spy,” you get really good at recognizing makes and models of cars. In training, when we were routinely followed, I even ascribed “personalities” to some of the cars, not unlike the movie and game!
How were you involved in the design of this game?
I met with the developers during the process to give them an idea about what real CIA training was like so that they could make the Cars 2 training at CHROME similar, and the game as realistic as possible.
How did your input influence the design and game play of the Cars 2 videogame?
Remarkably, the developers already had a very realistic vision of what spy training was like. My input, as a former spy, was to give ideas about what was genuine and what reminded me of the real world of secret agents and operatives.
Is this a game you would recommend?
Absolutely. My kids love this game. They can play together or with playmates since there’s an option for four player, or us, and there’s such a variety of modes and options, it really keeps them engaged and entertained. The only problem is that they are both better at it than I am.
What was your favorite part of the game?
I like how the Cars 2 characters comment and converse with one another throughout. My kids love this as well, and I’ll find them reenacting dialog between Mater and Lightning McQueen for example.
What was the most realistic part of the game? The least?
To me, the realistic part is the notion that, since the game takes place at CHROME, the Cars 2 spy training facility, friends – like Mater and Lightning McQueen – can engage in battle against one another, and that’s realistic. At the Farm, we spent a lot of time role-playing against our colleagues and instructors. This is part of spy training, so that when you confront enemies and bad guys in real life, you’ll be prepared. The only unrealistic part was all the cool gadgets the Cars 2 cars are equipped with. As a real spy, you usually have a basic car – not something fast and/or tricked out with weapons and gadgets. I wish we’d had cars like that!
How does the spy gear in the game compare to real spy gear? Unfortunately, as a spy, you don’t frequently use all the cool gear and gadgets you see in movies, or in Cars 2: the Video Game. The lack of shoe phones and poisoned-tip umbrellas was probably my biggest disappointment in being a spy. What’s cool about the game is that my kids assume my life as a spy was as exciting as the game, and that I am proficient with all kinds of awesome gadgets and weapons. Little do they know . . .
Were there any parts of this game based off your real life experiences?
The idea that the Cars characters all go to a training facility – in their case CHROME – to undergo preparation for the field is very much based on real life, and what real CIA officers undertake at the Farm. The driving component of real CIA training is very similar to the video game.
Pretty cool, huh? We at Gator Gamers would like to thank Ms. Moran for her time and effort! Happy driving everyone!
by Erin Ryan