Monday, November 22, 2004

A Passion for vidja games

Earlier, when I said “is nothing sacred?” referring to vidja games, I was only joking. Vidja games aren’t sacred. Or are they:

Nipping at the heels of Halo 2, Mel Gibson's The Passion, scheduled for release on PS2 this summer, expects to bring equally long lines to the malls.

"If Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ has given us any indication of the robust nature of the evangelical entertainment platform," Gage estimates, "then his video game will certainly be a predictor of its market share in days to come."

Yeah, this article is satirical (although bloggermeister Andrew Sullivan was snookered), but still it just sounds just a little too believable, because now that the election results are in, it’s decisive… Red America does exist! The Passion demonstrated its possibility as a market, and Olly Stone is preemptively blaming the expected lackluster showing of his upcoming-stinker Alexander on the prejudices of us small-minded Red Staters.

A Passion vidja game sounds just crazy enough to be tried (and a Left Behind vidja game IS going to be tried). Giant untapped reservoir of evangelicals, right? What else they gonna do in Jesusland, go to church? I mean, they can only be there, like, a couple hours a week, tops, right? So if we could just simulate the church experience in a vidja game… profit!

Mmmno.

While games based on the Left Behind book series or the Passion might profit from sheer name power, they would most assuredly not have the sales power of a Halo 2, Half-Life 2, Doom 3, or Fable. And, even more likely than this, the games would be unmitigated pieces of garbage and about as fun as a rash, minus the enjoyable scratching.

Let me let you in on a little gaming formula: Kill’n stuff in glorious 3-D = fun. Being crucified in glorious 3-D = not fun. Just because a game would seem to apply to a mainstream demographic does not mean that it would sell like Halo. It might still sell decent, but, unavoidably, the game would be quickly-made, buggy and poorly designed.

This is a game development principle: the more a game is made to appeal to the mainstream, the worse it will be. For examples one to infinity, check out all the hunting games ever made. Steaming piles of retch-inducing graphics with game play that couldn’t keep a retarded monkey entertained. Even a retarded monkey that really, REALLY liked hunting. And paintball… don’t even touch that, or you’re hands will curl up, turn black, and fall off. And I’m being deadly serious here; Wal-Mart employees have to handle those things with hazmat suits. Games targeted at nongaming demographics are designed solely with dollar signs in mind, with resulting poor gameplay.

On top of this, there is another game development principle conspiring against any Passion game: movie to game conversions—searching for the right word—SUCK. There are a few notable exceptions, one being the acclaimed Chronicles of Riddick and some of the Lord of the Rings adaptations, but these are notable exactly because they are such exceptions.

A Passion of the Christ game would be a rank exploitation of Red America. But, dude, even Red America likes fun games. And kill’n stuff.

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