Monday, 8 March 2010

Portal 2 ‘Excitement’ & Other Weird Tales

Enough already, we get it; Portal was a fantastic game, one that undoubtedly deserves a sequel. But shut up about it because Christ on a pogostick this week was like being trapped in a pet store that specialises in Parrots once owned by Carrot Top. Please allow me to elaborate since at this point you probably have as much sense of what is going on as the inebriated sorority girl at the decadent Fraternity party.

The week began with our benevolent overlords Valve releasing an update for their three year old game Portal, a somewhat unusual act as old games usually end up in a residential home to be forgotten. The update appeared to be a rather desultory addition with the only new supplement being an achievement and several sound files. This was the firing pistol in a masterfully created Alternate Reality Game by Valve – who essentially had their legions of fans jumping through hoops. Now I’m not going to go into the details of the ARG as it involved Morse code and Slow Scan Television (an audible way to transmit an image) which were contained in the .wav documents producing an MD5 Hash, because frankly it sounds like extracts obtained from the interests section of the World’s dullest man’s MySpace page. The end result was a collection of concept images from the then rumoured now confirmed Portal 2 and I’m willing to wager that there hasn’t been this much obsessive interest in a gallery of low quality images since the first erotic Daguerreotypes emerged.

Now the gaming community is treating Valve as if they are the Red Cross handing out aid to the destitute. And I was confused as to exactly why. Valve have engineered a fantastic marketing strategy granted, unfortunately this doesn’t make them the infinite projection of love but rather shows their ability to manipulate their audience and do so in a way that ensures maximum publicity as opposed to simply announcing the game. Worse still the hardcore gamers have emerged plaguing gaming forums with ridiculously detailed manuscripts chronicling their theories, in which of course they can’t see the slightest fault and regard whomever disagrees as unintelligent. Despite these ideas resembling the outcome of Robert Shea stumbling onto the set of Tron and copiously disgorging. Yes I appreciate the inevitability of the intense scrutiny surrounding the announcement of a new title (or pedestrian sequel in this case) but a mere week later it feels as if I’ve already bought, played, reviewed and left the fucking thing to gather dust.

In other news a Korean Otaku (that’s Japanese for a young male who doesn’t have a girlfriend, sorry it’s actually somebody with obsessive interests - although the two are perfectly interchangeable) has married a Dakimakura, which is a ‘huggable’ body pillow with the face of an anime character printed on it. Seriously. You hear that noise? That is the sound of the Kraken lamenting; yes even a creature of myth is expressing its disdain. I had already abandoned faith in Humanity while I was still undergoing Embryogenesis but the remnants of my depleted soul died after reading the article. It has to be asked who exactly deserves God’s wrath more; the supernerd? The inventors of the Dakimakura? Or the Korean government for allowing such a ceremony to take place instead of stepping down on his head with steel capped boots made from pure oppression?

To think this is in a country that does not legally recognise same-sex marriages. The article also provided photographs of the groom treating his blushing bride to outings to theme parks and restaurants, just incase you weren’t already contemplating playing Russian roulette with a fully loaded revolver. Globalised media once again has simply served as an indictment of the Human condition, with it constantly challenging our perceptions of the world by allowing access to this type of article. What’s next – Mr Generic buying a house in the suburbs for his mannequin wife and two baby doll children? Congratulations Mr Otaku you have let Humanity down and I would state you have also let yourself down but the honeymoon will serve that same purpose.

And finally, another week and another weak attempt to peddle the idea that video games promote violence. Coming once again by way of our Australian cousins, who lest we forget are descended from our deported convicts, a more logical explanation for Australia’s increasing violent crime perhaps? Leading experts (in idiocy I imagine) have controversially claimed “the link between violent video games and youth crime is greater than the connection between smoking and lung cancer”, though obviously fail to provide any solid evidence to back this up. They point to spates of brutal senseless slayings and rather than admit that the fault belongs to society’s failings; i.e. Lack of parental discipline, poverty, lack of social cohesion and a soft touch justice system, they link it to the violent mainstream video games simply because it is an easier scapegoat.

Most of these so called experts probably haven’t played the games they are condemning, operating on what I like to call ‘The LAPD approach’ - judging before the subject has had a chance to do anything based on appearances. Which is a crying shame because if they actually had taken the time to play Modern Warfare 2 they would find it provides a cathartic experience and does not “rewire a child's brain making them more amenable to violence”. If a cretin takes it upon himself to murder his fellow man then it was only a matter of time until this disturbed individual actually followed through thus making the catalyst irrelevant as his rampage could have equally been caused by a video game, waiting in line at the Post Office or even watching an episode of EastEnders. Actually the latter option is understandable. As for the claim that gaming causes more harm than smoking, well this is simply the etchings of retard, because while it is difficult to pinpoint crimes that are the offspring of violent media we know that lung cancer is the product of excessive smoking. I’ll conclude with this soundbite - killing civilians on MW2’s infamous ‘No Russian’ level does not fuel my desires to sacrifice a virgin to the Dark Lord.