Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Fun and Games.

From time to time on this blog I've mentioned fun little games that you can play from the comfort of your web browser. One such game I mentioned a little over a year ago, and involves a yeti engaging in batting practice with a penguin for a ball. If it sounds gruesome when put that way I'm not surprised, but it's really pretty enjoyable- as several of my readers discovered. More recently, I've remarked on my newfound appreciation for the Flying Spagetti Monster- a deity whose worship actually includes a pretty neat little flash game. Yo, ho-ho, y'all.

Now, from all this you might get the impression that I like a little harmless fun, and that impression is in fact correct. However, I also happen to be aware of some other games that seem a little less harmless. One such game, named Frontal Assault, has the dubious honor of being a game that centers on sexual molestation. Okay, more accurately, it focusses on breast fondling and has game mechanics similar to the infamous Dance Dance Revolution. Think I'm kidding? Well, then check out the screenshot.


Notice in particular the hand/finger beneath the left (your left, her right) breast that moments earlier sent this boob jiggling on its merry way. Yes, folks, the goal of this game is to bat a bizarrely proportioned woman's breasts around in a pattern determined by the game itself. Think of it as a really weird version of Simon. Doubtless the feminists in the crowd are already noticing the implications this game has for the objectification of women and, given this game's inventor, I'm not sure I'm prepared to disagree.

Probably even more worrisome is a game that came to my attention only yesterday. I encountered it via the conservative Attack Cartoons site which I in turn found via the conservative webcomic Winger. What can I say? I like to read constrasting opinions. In any case, the game in question is called "Kaboom!" and is a suicide bombing game. No, really, I'm serious, that's actually how it identifies itself.


So, how tasteless is this game? Well, first off, it's a game about suicide bombers. That all by itself should really be sufficient to answer the question. Still, I'm nothing if not painfully thorough, so let's delve a little deeper. The gameplay is as follows:


First, you run around a crowded city street and then, once you've located a likely set of victims...


you proceed to blow yourself up. It would, sadly, take too long to fully depict this experience, but rest assured that plenty of carnage ensues. And, as you might have guessed, your score is then reported to you as the number of different kinds of people who were killed or injured as a result of your actions. Truly this game is a masterpiece of both simple gameplay, and utter disregard for common decency.


It goes virtually without saying that this game stems from the same source as the phenomenon Slag remarked on yesterday. It is equally certain that it probably won't help improve perceptions of Arabs in the United States or, you know, anywhere. Similarly, to the extent that the Arab world is exposed to these sorts of things, I doubt it will improve their opinion of the west. So, hey, great job!

Now, having said that this game isn't a good thing, and having implied that I don't much like it,* do I think that we should protest it, or the Frontal Assault game? Should we decry these games as sexist, or racist, or prejudiced in general? Absolutely. I think Frontal Assault is almost like an objectification machine and certainly is nothing to be proud of. Similarly, I think Kaboom! is a pretty damned awful piece of work.

The thing is, while I think we should feel free to criticize these games, we shouldn't go any further than that.

The games I started with, involving the Yeti & the Penguin, as well as the Flying Spagetti Monster, were harmless fun for me, but might be seen very differently by an animal rights activist or a staunch theist. To those people, my harmless fun might well be quite disturbing. Likewise, I dislike the latter two games, but not everyone may agree. If I advance my right to censor this material because I find it offensive, than I must also be willing to be censored myself.

While I don't like being offended, I realize that it is good for me. Having to face rival ideas, even those I find utterly repugnant, makes me a stronger person and for that reason, and that reason alone, I would prefer these sorts of games remain available. If you disagree with someone, say so and then tell us why. Don't try to impair their right to speak in the first place.

* Actually, I hate this latter game, not least because one of my best friends is a Palestinian-American. The caricature of all Arabs as terrorists is not helpful, and misses the richness of an old and highly literate culture.

2 Comments:

Blogger TDEC said...

The trouble I have with items like the games you refer to is twofold:

- It is hard to overcome the emotional reaction to it. The idea behind both is so repugnant that I find it hard to formulate a rational response.

- Even if I can kick my brain into action, it is hard to care to defend this kind of freedom.

I think you make a good point, and I respect that a lot. Few people live up to it, or even question their emotional response in these issues. Certainly I don't.

Friday, March 03, 2006 1:17:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Don't try to impair their right to speak in the first place.

Why don't we react so defiantly when Janet flashes her breast or when Trent Lott publicly celebrates Strom Thurmond's run for President on a segregationist platform?

What do you think does or does not inspire that I love democracy! feeling in us?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006 12:57:00 PM  

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