Wednesday, 16 April 2008

A question of taste

Do you ever step back from something that you have said and realise 'wow, I am truly a terrible person'? I do things like this quite a bit. For example, when Steve Irwin died, me and my friends were in the pub hours after the tragedy occurred and were already making jokes about stingrays and the mad Australian bloke. It makes me think though, there are quite a few elements of bad taste around in the gaming world as well.

I shall go straight for the jugular this time. Without a doubt, the most tasteless experience I have ever played through was Postal 2. Any game where you can set people and animals a like on fire and then urinate on their corpse to douse the flames has to be the sickest thing imaginable. Sick and incredibly funny. Everything in it is so very wrong, but it just feels so fun to be an unpleasant b****** for no reason whatsoever. It's a similar concept to having sex in church, you know it is wrong on every level, but it feels so good. The third offering of the game offers an amazing looking new weapon for causing random violent acts of devastation, an angry tame badger thing.

Now that the very obvious is out of the way, I can focus on the ever so slightly more subtle acts of tastelessness in games. Throughout the last decade or so of gaming, there has been a sort of 'flavour of the month' approach to exactly who the player is supposed to slaughter in games. The first fad kicked off with the Medal of Honour series, where it seemed that every other first person shooter put you in World War II fighting Nazis of some description. It was a fun idea to start with, but when one company releases a Nazi killing rampage game, and runs with the ball of success, other producers tend to try and tackle the ball off them. They do not always do this by coming up with something new, exciting and original, but rather they rip the idea off and make a mediocre job of it.

The current bad guy fighting fad seems to be against the middle east. Recent offerings such as Army of Two and Call of Duty 4 had the player murdering quite a few people from Iraq and generic middle eastern country of no name (so Iraq again). The thing that irritates me a bit though is that it is assumed that these countries are full of nutters who decide the best thing to do is strap explosives to their chest and charge head on at you as if your bullets were made of sweets. I know that every month we hear news stories about suicide bombers in these countries injuring dozens, but this does not make it okay to put them behind every corner possible in a virtual world. they are not that fun to fight and appear to be a bit of a joke enemy that can be used to injure other enemies around them. The interesting thing about these 'running bombs' is that they only ever seem to appear in the levels of games that are based in the middle east, which if you ask me is quite serious borderline racism.

I shall end this blog about bad taste with a game series that has been brought up relatively recently in my blogs, but deserves another mention, purely for the gory thought and detail that goes into each title. Mortal Kombat and all of its incarnations. The series has always prided itself on gory finishers, but the fact that each one is so violently gory and detailed, leads me to question the developer's collective sanity. What sort of person wakes up in the morning and thinks:

"You know what would be good? If that guy rips off the other dudes head, and pulls out the spinal column with it to hold up as a trophy. Yeah, that would be neat."

As terrible as the scenes are though, they are awfully funny to watch. When you think about it, the dreadful stereotyping that all middle eastern countries have an unlimited supply of fanatic suicide bombers is so bad, it's laughable. Even mauling someone to death with a pet badger and urinating on their juicy bits of corpse is so disgusting, you can't help but laugh. The grim things that video games portray have to be taken lightly. After all, things like Call of Duty 4 and Medal of Honour: Allied Assault are not meant to be anything like documentaries. It is all there for the sake of fun, which is important to remember about any game, even if it makes you feel rather repulsed.

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