Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The most appalling eruption of foul language since Hitler said "damn" in the original Bionic Commando!

This is supposed to be a blog about gaming in general and not the Mafia II Offensive Content Gazette, but a journalist goes where the news is: the Guinness Book of World Records has provisionally certified Mafia II as the game with the most instances of a well-known swear word. This is a family blog, so for decency's sake I'll just say it's the one that starts with F and rhymes with "fuck."

Mafia II dethrones previous record holder House of the Dead: Overkill, a fluffy, Disneyesque romp for the Nintendo Wii that used the word a mere 189 times. Prior to House of the Dead's release, the record had been held for a stunning 16 years by Sierra Entertainment's critically acclaimed but commercially disastrous movie-tie in point-and-click adventure game Glengarry Glen Ross: The Quest to Sell Some Fucking Real Estate. Sadly, the game was doomed commercially by a gaming marketplace not yet ready for the game's mature content, the greater popularity of rival series such as King's Quest and Gabriel Knight, and the limited audience for games about middle-aged guys sitting in a room and yelling at each other about their unsuccessful careers in the real estate industry.

A spokesman for Guinness said:

"The number associated with the record is liable to change in the next few weeks, as 2K have promised to supply us with a copy of the game's full script under NDA so we can count the number of f-bombs ourselves and update the record with a complete figure."
This really has me wondering what working at the Guinness Book of World Records office is like.

Can anyone be assigned curse-counting duty, or is there somebody at Guinness who focuses on this sort of record? And if the latter, what's he like? Is he a seemingly normal man with a nice home in the suburbs and a family who thinks he works in the sporting records department? Is he some sort of shadowy, morally ambiguous black ops figure, tolerated as a necessary evil and yet feared and shunned by the very Guinness staffers he protects for making the sort of grim moral compromises that the naive, soft-handed civilians who spend their days compiling aerospace speed records or measuring the world's largest structure made entirely of popsicle sticks could never face? Is there some insane, subhuman, unspeakably foul-mouthed Gollum-like figure confined to a dark, filth-encrusted pit where he subsists on carrion, whatever live rodents he catches, and the gnawed bones of other Guinness employees who stood too close to the pit? Inquiring minds want to know.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

Analyst's report: Open-world crime genre projected to have offended members of every ethnic group on the planet no later than 2015

The Italian-American advocacy group UNICO publicly condemned the recent release of Mafia II and it's developer and publisher, 2K games and Take-Two Interactive, for what UNICO has called the game's racist portrayal of Italians and organized crime. UNICO president Andre DeMino issued a statement in which he said:

Why would [Take-Two] foist a game on their targeted audience of young people wherein they will indoctrinate a new generation into directly associating Italians and Italian Americans with violent, murderous organized crime, to the exclusion of all of the other 'mafias' run by other ethnic and racial groups...Take-Two is directly, blatantly and unfairly discriminating and demeaning one group to the exclusion of all others. We are demanding they halt release of the game and cleanse it of all references to Italians and Italian Americans.
Unfortunately, Mafia II is set in the years following World War II, decades before the Mafia began the groundbreaking series of affirmative action programs that have made the ranks of today's Mafia such a diverse, United Colors of Benetton-esque smorgasbord of Men of Respect of every race, color, and creed. Take-Two is apparently going for an authentic historical atmosphere, so making a game where the main characters are 1940's/50's American mafioso named Abdullah "The Dolphin" ibn Yusuf, Ragnar "Berserker" Gustafsson, and Nine-Finger Johnny Krishnamurti creates some suspension of disbelief issues.

I could sympathize with DeMino more if the pervasive pattern he alludes to actually existed in modern games, but I see no convincing proof that it does. There are too many Eastern Europeans and Japanese and African-Americans and Generic White Guys of No Particular Ethnic Background in crime-related games for the claim that Italians are being systematically singled out to be plausible.

It could be a lot worse. Pretty much any time a character who shares my principal ethnic background shows up in a video game, they're a freaking NAZI. Or a soldier fighting for Nazi Germany. Or a Neo-Nazi. Or an exiled former Nazi. Or a thinly veiled stand-in for a Nazi. Or some sort of monstrous Nazi cyborg hell-beast spawned by unnatural Nazi superscience and/or blasphemous Nazi occult lore.

As the old proverb goes, "I was sad because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no feet." Or, in this case, "I was sad that I was a tough-talking 50s gangster, until I met Undead Mecha-Hitler." Words to live by.

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