Day 10: Most Shocking Video Game Scene
I would like to mix it up a bit with this post. Plenty of things make me stop and question them. When Grand Theft Auto III came out, was I shocked that you could beat a prostitute to death? Not really. I didn’t really find it necessary, but I didn’t find it disturbing in and of itself. It is easy for me to separate fiction from reality. What I found more shocking was the parents who would be dumbfounded when shown the gameplay, act shocked, and still buy the game for their child. I could obviously get a number of paragraphs out of the topic, but let’s keep this fun!
In the spirit of the upcoming holiday season I wanted to look back at a couple of family gatherings from my childhood. Evenings in which my merry drunk uncles gathered round the nephew’s video game system and found themselves shocked (and tickled pink) over some games they were playing. We are talking the 80’s people, so get the picture in your head. Think colorful holiday sweaters and killer mustaches. No, not hipsters! Drunk 80’s uncles.
First up we have Castle Wolfenstein for the Commodore 64. If you are only familiar with modern day Wolfenstein and its first-person shooter gameplay, the early 80’s version of the game was quite a bit different. It was a top-down perspective stealth game, much like the original Metal Gear games. What it shared was swastikas on everything and all of the Nazi killing we have come to love.
One Thanksgiving I was hiding in my bedroom, playing away at the game. I had recently moved out from the large room I shared with my brother into a much smaller sewing room. This was a large family Thanksgiving so both my Mom and Dad’s brothers/sisters and their husbands/wives were at the house. Eventually one of my uncles found his way into my room and started watching me play. Soon another walked by and got curious. The next thing I know five or six more men are all crammed into my small room watching me play the game. I’m disguised as a Nazi guard and I tell them to pay attention. Another guard approaches me and says, “Halt! Show me your pass”. I show the guard the pass and tell the room to wait for it. The guard turns around and starts to walk away. I shoot him dead. The room erupts with laughter!
Next we will visit my cousin’s house, Christmas Eve 1988. He had recently received a copy of Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode for the NES. The game was based on a Japanese manga featuring the assassin Duke Togo. This was one of my favorite Nintendo games. I would later get more into the anime, but at the time we were only eight. While the US version of the game did receive some censorship it was still a fantastic game filled with violence and even a bit of sex. The two things I want to talk about today.
My cousin and I were sitting in front of the television and I was watching him play the game. He informed me that at the current point he was going to have to take out a sniper. I believe this was what got the attention of our uncles this time around. We quickly had an audience, cocktails in their hands, watching in anticipation. Duke Togo takes aim at the sniper’s head, pulls the trigger, and blows him away. Our uncles laugh and cheer.
He continues to play the game and our uncles are making various jokes about what is going on. They are especially drawn to Cherry Grace, the female character assisting you in your mission. This is when my cousin said, “You get to have sex with her”. Now he has their attention, 100%. There is no turning off the game until they see what he is talking about. The story progresses and everyone is having fun. By today’s standards the sex scene is very innocent, but none of these guys had even played a video game. To them video games were for children. The most they had seen was us playing Super Mario Bros. Golgo 13 was a gritty spy story with a much more adult feel. This was the first time we were playing a game like this as well. So my cousin gets to the hotel with Cherry. They flirt back and forth a bit. The camera view pulls back to a shot of the hotel where you see the sexy silhouette of Duke and Cherry. My uncles begin to cheer again with a few high-fives.
These two holiday memories were a much more fun type of shocking. To me it was a chance to share something with the adults and have some laughs. No one overreacted and our parents were confident that their kids were still on the right path. Although I’m sure a few of my extremely religious aunts were not as thrilled with the festivities. That said video games have advanced in their content and visuals. While I don’t think any type of art form will screw a kid up, I do think parents should establish some approximate times for their kids to have access to things. Be an active part of your child’s life, pay attention, and most importantly love them. They’ll turn out mostly fine!