Saturday, January 03, 2009

Be Careful What You Wish For

Nedra Weinreich points out an article in the parodic newspaper The Onion entitled "New Video Game Designed To Have No Influence On Kids' Behavior," which expresses the absurd lengths to which parents' wish fulfillment for nonviolent, noncompetitive games could reach to produce a completely nonengaging arhetorical game, which could be considered the opposite of the compelling and thought-provoking games covered in Ian Bogost's primer on the subject, Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames.

NEW YORK— Electronic-entertainment giant Take-Two Interactive, parent company of Grand Theft Auto series creator Rockstar Games, released Stacker Tuesday, a first-person vertical-crate-arranger guaranteed not to influence young people's behavior in any way.

"With Stacker, the player interacts with an environment full of boxes—lightweight, uniformly brown boxes with rounded corners—and uses diligence and repetitive hard work to complete his mission," said Doug Benzies, Stacker's chief developer. "We're confident that the new 'reluctantly interactive' content engine we designed will prevent any excitement or emotional involvement, inappropriate or otherwise, on the part of the player."

To avoid any appearance of suggestive or adult situations, the graphics consist entirely of rectangular polygons rendered in shades of brown against a simulated gray cinderblock wall. The game is free-roaming inside the warehouse environment, meaning that no goals are set for stacking a certain number of boxes, nor is there a time limit for the stacking. The health-level bar remains at a constant peak, and the first-person perspective avoids the problem of players identifying too closely with the main character, whose name is never specified and to whom nothing actually happens.

While the game, like most other newer entries, has a three-dimensional platform, it features little else that could make an impression on the player.

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