3Educational Game Curses at Impatient Kids
Secret Writer's Society is an educational game that uses jaunty songs and videos to teach kids things like capitalization, punctuation and sentence structure -- it's like a digital schoolteacher, right down to the part where it occasionally loses its shit and yells curse words at the kids.
We're actually members of the Secret Writer's Society ... and yeah, it's mainly about teaching naughty words to kids.
You see, the game includes a text-to-voice tool that encourages kids to write down sentences and then reads them back to the players. If you type more than four lines, though, and click the text box twice instead of once, it spices up the message by prefacing it with random curse words like "cock," "asshole" or "masturbation."
The company that published it, Panasonic Interactive Media, blamed the game's Tourette's syndrome on a programming bug -- they said it was an error in the word filter, a list of curse words they compiled and banned from the game to prevent kids from actually having fun with it, which they then ... recorded and included in the disc anyway?
"Our marketing team is insisting we make our game accessible to the 8- to 12-year-old pimp demographic."
Here's a more likely explanation: RTMark.com, an activist collective who trolled big companies before Anonymous was a thing, released a statement saying they paid $1,000 to a programmer at Panasonic who was willing include this Easter egg to teach neglectful parents a lesson. The anonymous programmer claims he "wanted to wake parents up to reality -- here's what happens if you hand your responsibility to some machine," adding that "letting a third-rate piece of software take over for you is wrong."
"Teaching kids to say 'fellatio' is OK, though, because it's hilarious."
While he makes a pretty good point, what about all the children whose fragile psyches he permanently damaged when this game came out in 1998? You can probably find them populating YouTube's comments section today.
2Overworked Programmer Turns Helicopter Game into Gay Celebration
Before the wildly popular SimCity game series transitioned into the even more wildly popular The Sims, their creators at Maxis tried out about a dozen other "Sim + some other word" combinations to see if they caught on. They did not.
SimFarm failed because it lacked the option to annoy your family and friends with invitations.
The best known of that bunch is SimCopter, but not for the reasons Maxis intended. The game, released in 1996, allowed you to fly through pixelated cities of your own design with a helicopter, doing things like rescuing people trapped on rooftops, putting out fires, stopping riots ... or watching muscular half-naked men with fluorescent nipples making out with each other.
We're not sure who that dude in the gray hoodie is, but we'd bet money he's taken a human life.
This last part wasn't fully intentional, it turns out. After completing a mission, the game was supposed to show you a group of scantily clad bimbos (as the programmers called them) dancing around for no reason. One programmer, Jacques Servin, decided to bring some gender equality into the Sims world by secretly replacing the bimbos with men in Speedos, recoding the game so that "should you encounter one of these youths, you must kiss him" (which would play out with cute lip-smacking noises). He also threw in some dancing cops for good measure, and thickened the legs of some girls to turn them into drag queens.
Which explains the mysterious bulge in the girl on the right.
Servin programmed the characters to come out only on certain dates, but an error in the code made them show up more often and in greater numbers, causing spontaneous gay pride parades to form around the helicopter. The Easter egg was discovered a few days after the game's release, but by that time, 50,000 copies had already been shipped. Servin was soon fired "due to the insertion of unauthorized content."
Looks pretty consensual to us.
Though Servin himself is gay, he says he did it mainly because the working conditions at Maxis were "inhumane" -- he often worked 60-hour weeks, went a year without any vacation time and was refused a week off. At this point he stumbled upon RTMark, the same activist group behind the hack of the educational game above. RTMark later paid Servin $5,000 for his stunt, and he went on to enjoy a far more satisfying career as a founding member of The Yes Men.
Meanwhile, Maxis eventually admitted he might have been on to something there.