Malik  (10/15/04)

Things are a bit slow this week in terms of important news.  There are games coming out, and there are games going gold...yipee.  It's nothing really news worthy, and thus I have nothing to really bitch about...well, I have one thing, or else this column couldn't be this week.  It's something pretty near and dear to my heart (people acting like asses to make an easy buck).  So, instead of ranting for a while, I'll just get things started.

There's Something Worse Than Reality TV?

As I mentioned on my daily post for Monday, the Rumor Control segment at talked about some rumors that are looking "Not bogus" about a new game that has you surviving the September 11th terrorist attacks. This new game, Survivor, is supposed to be the birth of a new genre, according to Replay (the developer), called reality gaming. This, in turn, sounds as morally hollow and just plain disgusting and intellectually retarding as reality TV. 

I should probably explain something, before I piss off too many with what I've said. I have no problem with some of the things that are classified as reality TV. I mean in the end, reality TV is as vague of a genre as rock is for music. However, I don't have a problem with what used to be called game shows before they became reality TV...I don't understand how a direct and individual competition, like those Great Race type of shows or something like Fear Factor could be labeled as reality TV and not "game show" (which is what they would've been called before Survivor was invented...Survivor, the TV show, not the game...I won't mention the TV show anymore for sake of simplifying these terms). They are individual or team competitions that don't differ from something like Double Dare or Jeopardy in theme, and only have a more physical nature to them. On the other hand, I have a problem with watching something along the lines of that one TV show I won't name again this column, in which the competition is minimal and the personal interactions are the key element for the supposed entertainment. Seriously, if I wanted to watch that type of stuff, I'd just hang out with my friends and then I could cut out half of the stupidity, the bickering, and the annoying factors (like the extreme yuppies, the brain dead arguments, etc) and still have personal interactions...and I could actually be involved and cause an effect to take place. So, that's my problem with reality TV. 

Anyway, with something like Survivor (the game...I'll only use this name, from this point on, to describe the game from Replay), the problem is not just the stupidity or the brainlessness of it all. The real issue is that we are being asked to buy a product that has so little morals as to take many instances of great death and despair (some of the darkest moments in human history), and to play them for fun. Am I the only person who sees the problem here? On top of the fact that we are being asked to buy this game (a game maker will only make a game in order to make money off of it, unless it's something like freeware, in which the product is made simply to have, Replay is asking us to buy this), and in turn make a profit for Replay...a profit that comes from a subject that can only exist from human misery, suffering, and death...but also there are the morals behind all of this. 

These morals I mention would be the simple fact that we are expected, as geeks, to play this game and have fun with it. We are supposed to have fun playing the role of someone surviving some of the most horrific events in recent world history. If you didn't get that, let me spell it out; we are supposed to have fun playing someone who is trying to survive the massacre of deaths that were involved in the sinking of the Titanic, the bombing of Hiroshima, or the assaults on the World Trade Center. I won't even begin by questioning the intelligence in this (but I will get to that in a minute), but rather the morality decision involved. How do you decide that playing out some of the most horrific moments of modern history, in a (I think they are supposed to be) realistic manner. I mean this will include watching virtual people who are based on real people suffer, be maimed, wounded, watch as their loved ones die, or be killed themselves. Plus, while many of these moments have passed beyond casual recollection, the events of September 11th 2001 are still quite alive as people continue to suffer from lingering effects (people who were permanently disabled or disfigured, or people who are suffering from lingering health problems associated with the dust and gasses released as the towers came down). This is not the right time or place to bring forth a game that asks you to ENJOY these events and to have a fun time playing someone who manages to out-survive the other victims. In fact, by saying this is not the right time or place, what I should say is that this is the worst time and place. There is not now, nor will there ever be (I hope...unless society decays more than we can ever expect) a time for this type of "entertainment". This is a tasteless, and pointless pile of amoral shit. 

Also, from an intelligence standpoint, I am even more confused. The events in Survivor that I'm aware of consists of the Titanic, the bombing of Hiroshima (which, on the last subject, I might add, had more deaths than we should all like to ever think about in one small moment), and September 11th. Well, some of these I could understand, if I was an amoral shit-head, how they could be made into a game, but how the hell do you survive a nuclear bomb attack. This is not something like a terrorist attack as we think of them; there is no damage with small pockets of survival...this is a freakin' nuclear bomb! There is devastation, and that is about it. It's not like you can outrun a nuclear attack (ala Arnold in Predator), and it's not like a bunch of pockets of survival will occur. When a nuke hits a town, the town is gone. How the hell are we expected to play a video game in which we survive a nuclear bombing, in which the game is striving to have any resembling features to reality? 


The solution to this type of tasteless crap is simple. This is the same solution that there should be for movies like the Faces of Death series and for games that focus on the suffering of real people in real events like Survivor. The solution is for the people who develop and publish these titles to pull their heads out of their asses for a brief moment, realize what the f&^$ they are doing, and then to stop. 

With some games, like Disaster Report, it is obvious that there could be an interest in a survival game that is not the typical RE style of survival horror. However, DR was developed by people who were smart enough to not base the game on reality, beyond the fact that earthquakes do happen. It is not focused on actual deaths and actual suffering as the main theme of the game. So, if Replay wants to make such an amoral and stupid game, couldn't they at least throw some morality into the mix. In other words, base it on fictional attacks, disasters, and so forth. Any good game studio should have enough imagination to make a fake natural disaster (it's about the easiest storyline to make up from scratch since it has set rules to it...) and enough morality to leave the real suffering where it belongs; not in our entertainment. 

As for the solution to the other side of things; Reality TV needs to stop. Individual competitions are fine, since they are actually called "game shows" (am I the only person with any memory of TV before that one reality show that shares it's name with an immoral game in development?). However, shows that are primarily about bickering and really forced and bad social interactions need to stop. Can't anyone see that there is no entertainment value from this stuff? Blah. 


Well, things are pretty short this week. I mean there are some other things that are pissing me off, but not nearly deep enough of subjects to go fully into. For example, there's how messed up some companies are in terms of customer support, how a good deal of sites that used to have downloadable free drivers will now charge you a membership fee to enter the site (before you can even see if they have the driver you need) fact, that's a pretty bad one. With how the Internet is becoming a pay service more than an open community (try to make a web site and then get it listed on any search takes a lot of work to get it on a search engine for free...and you'll be stuck with some pretty annoying newsletters once you do), it's making it hard to keep upbeat and enjoy the old sense of community. It used to be that if someone would like your site, they'd link to it on their site, and then they would ask you for a return favor (of linking to their site). Now, a link will only be placed for your site if you are ready to bow down to this other entity (people rarely exist on the's all a bunch of faceless entities) and call it master...and then link to their site with a special format in which their ad banner is located at a certain required size and within a certain space on each page you have...then they will post the link to your site at the bottom of a list of about 500,000 other sites. Blah. 

When this lack of community reaches the levels of turning the previously free driver downloads into a direct that charges a yearly fee of $25, all so you can find one little's not a good day for the Internet. I personally have to wonder the legality of this type of maneuver. I mean these drivers were not made (usually) by these driver-sites, they were originally free software (I mean the companies who made your device will give you a driver that took little effort, since you already dropped $500 on their's the hardware manufacturer's way of pretending to give a damn), and now they are being charged for. Is this really legal in the strictest of senses? probably is since there's a legal loophole for anything if it's on the Internet. 


So, there's nothing deep enough to get into for a full Bitching. So, I'll have to leave things at this...for now. I'm expecting that next week should have some real news (I mean with how little there was this week, there would have to be something next week...right?), so I'll then be able to bitch to my heart's content. At least, for the time being, while I may not be able to be all that bitchy, I can be content to play one good game after another (I'm not even going to think that there could be a large chunk of great games that are going under my radar due to how I don't have time or money for them all). I'm usually so pissed off and bitchy when it comes to Fridays, so I might as well try to enjoy one good Friday in which there is nothing to piss me off...blah. It just feels like a hollow victory.  Anyway,  feel free to write me or put it on the forums, if you think you've got something to add.