4 Ethical Video Game Reviews for a Post-Gamergate World
I am a gamer and have always been ever so slightly suspicious of vaginas. Why so cavernous, vaginas? What are you hiding in there? Spare keys to a boat? A rubber bouncy ball? Illuminati secrets? All this and more, I hasten to believe. Because of this and my gaming penchant, I felt the need to jump feet first into Gamergate the only way I know how: By giving gamers exactly what they crave so as to finish this silly back-and-forth once and for all by putting me, my fellow man, and our ethics back squarely in the driver's seat. Or the gamer's seat. Did you know you can buy special gamer seats? I bet they all smell so fucking bad.
Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare
This game is a next-gen iteration of the classic ideal of Plants vs. Zombies. In the original version of this game, a Caucasian, cisgendered rube fellow named Dave tasks you with managing a plant garden of sentient vegetation to fend off swarms of undead males of indeterminate race and sexuality. In Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare, you are able to play as either side in this dreadful conflict, and the racial diversity is very expansive and well-represented. It seems like Sunflowers may be female due to their high-pitched vocalizations. However, as a Caucasian, heterosexual, cisgendered male, I may be projecting my own prejudices onto this plant. It may be a male with lower-than-average testosterone, as I am not even aware of testosterone levels in plants at all. Full disclosure: I do not have a degree in botany.
The game is a multiplayer experience, meaning you can play online and face up to 23 other opponents in an arena, many of whom could be homosexual or "female" or transgendered or Canadian. They are all equally good players. All that is required is an Internet connection and a subscription to XBox Live, as far as I am aware as a Caucasian, cisgendered, heterosexual male under 40 but over 20.
You or someone playing on your behalf, because either is a valid life choice, will be able to choose from four kinds of plants or zombies. No kind is greater or worse than another. All have a place in the rich tapestry of the game and offer a variety of useful skills and abilities that should be celebrated and enjoyed.
Accuracy Check: This segment of the column was checked for accuracy by a Chinese-American with a peg leg named Louise who is also a lesbian and a Republican. Louise comments that much of the previous review seems accurate, however no paperwork was submitted to support Felix Clay's assertions of being a cisgendered, heterosexual male.
Transparency: Felix Clay wishes it to be known that he purchased the game Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare a week before writing this article completely unaware that it required an Xbox Live Gold membership and there was no local multiplayer functionality. Upon learning these two facts, he was heard to remark "Fuck you, Microsoft." It is unknown at this time if Felix Clay has, in fact, fucked or been fucked by Microsoft since that utterance.
Fairness and Accountability Overview: If it becomes evident at any point in time that Felix Clay has, in fact, been fucking Microsoft, a plant, or a zombie, we will remove this review in full from Cracked.com, its affiliates, and your heart.
Clash of Clans
A popular app for both Android and iPhone, Clash of Clans is a combat strategy game designed to waste your money because it's almost literally impossible to advance by playing for free. I know this because I've been trying to play for about five months now without spending any money, and you basically just end up stagnating for a month at a time, then advancing very slightly, then repeating the process.
If you have seen the delightful animated commercials, you know nothing about the game. Mostly you just spend lots of resources, which you do not have a lot of, unless you pay real money for them to build and upgrade things. You do this over and over for months, and each upgrade takes longer than the last unless you pay to make it happen faster.
This game is easy to enjoy for anyone with thumbs and a penchant for monotony or money-wasting, whether he be an adult male of Western European ancestry or a noble Native American member of the Navajo tribe. Choose your defenses, build your army of archers, giants, warriors, and wizards, and see how well you fare laying siege to other users who, if they paid any money at all, will be better than you.
Accuracy Check: This segment of the column was checked for accuracy by author and samaritan Gladstone. Gladstone does not own a smartphone but does have a rotary phone. He felt the clan clashing in the game was probably too much like racial violence and refused to participate further. As such, this review has gone unverified by a third-party official and may contain falsehoods spun from the author's own deranged mind, such as this claim about wizards in the game. I mean, wizards? That sounds patently false.
Transparency: Felix Clay wishes it to be known he plays this game exclusively on the toilet. If you feel objectified or oppressed by knowing Felix plays games on the toilet, write your congressperson.
Fairness and Accountability Overview: Felix Clay has no money and is therefore unable to fully enjoy this game and its in-game, purchase-based game play. His abject poverty is not to be construed as an endorsement of playing this game without the use of microtransactions and should not be considered a reflection of the fun and game play experience you, as a gamer who is either a Caucasian, cisgendered, heterosexual male or whatever other races and sexual identities are permitted to play games these days, will have playing this game.
This game is considered an Atari classic, but probably only in the sense that it's one of the first video games ever, which isn't a judgment of its quality and is in no way meant to besmirch or belittle any games that may have been made since that time. All are equally good and valid.
The story of Pong is one of two opposing forces, much like the Montagues and Capulets, or perhaps the Spartans and Persians, or the Quebec Nordiques and Hartford Whalers. These forces clash in an age-old battle of bip-bop, wherein the bip and/or bop is provided by a pixel which, through the use of your imagination, can be viewed as a ball. Perhaps a ping-pong ball. Or some other kind of ball. But probably a ping-pong ball, since it lends itself best to the name of the game. You could imagine a football, but then why is it called Pong? But don't let that stop you! Your imagination is your prerogative, and you are allowed to imagine all the balls you want as much as you want. You can spend all day, fellow Caucasian, heterosexual, cisgendered male gamers, imagining balls of every shape and color coming at you -- coming at you high and coming at you low, balls that never stop coming at you for as long as you're having fun being on the receiving end of all those balls.
This game is fun. Unless you don't find it fun. If the stress of conflict is too unbearable, that is wholly valid and defensible and is well-respected by all. Pong is not fun. Unless it is.
Accuracy Check: This review was checked for accuracy by Cracked's nighttime janitor Mickey. Mickey lives in a housing project with 13 other people from his country in one bedroom. Mickey has never played Pong but wants us to know he loves America, loves freedom, and please help, they won't let him leave.
Transparency: Felix Clay would like to inform readers he has not played Pong since the 1980s when he actually owned a hand-me-down Atari 2600 and a black-and-white TV that had knobs to change the channel. Fuckin' knobs! Does anyone under 20 even know what a knob is?
Fairness and Accountability Overview: Felix Clay's memory is quite possibly grossly inaccurate and unreliable, thanks to years of low-budget alcohol abuse and mild-to-moderate head trauma when it comes to the fun and/or lack of fun one may have when playing Pong. Due to this, editorial would like to adjust the review to reflect that, when Felix says Pong is fun, it may in fact not be fun, and when Felix says it's not fun, it may in fact be fun.
KerPlunk is not a video game, but I don't think anyone was ever complaining specifically about ethics in video game journalism so much as ethics in gaming journalism, and therefore I feel this particular pseudo-board game is worth reviewing.
First marketed in 1967, making it half as old as a third of most of Cher, KerPlunk is a game in which players poke long, plastic skewers through a tube bespeckled with holes until a kind of lattice is formed. These skewers can also effectively be used to stab your siblings if necessary. Once all skewers are in place, the top of the tube is filled with marbles. The object of the game is to remove skewers one at a time, while allowing as few of the marbles to drop as possible. The person who allows the fewest marbles to drop is the winner, although everyone is equally meritorious in life and has their own set of unique skills and abilities that couldn't possibly be quantified by a single marble-based board game from the 60s.
KerPlunk is an obvious metaphor for the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It is an abominable game devoid of morality, humanity, and soul.
Accuracy Check: This review was checked for accuracy by Felix himself after assuring editorial that he would be in no way swayed by or in conflict with the review simply because he had written it himself. Felix feels the fundamentals of this review are spot-on and the reviewer himself is likely a handsome, ruddy sort of fellow who ladies should probably show their boobs to. But also men as well, because that is fair and ethical. But men, make sure if you do show your boobs, that you're a lady.
Transparency: Felix would like to inform readers that, as a child, he stole all the marbles from KerPlunk and played marbles with them, and over the years, the KerPlunk marbles were off-and-on replaced by random marbles picked up from garage sales. It is entirely possible his version of KerPlunk was therefore irrevocably altered due to the presence of nonsanctioned marbles, many of which could have been hidden inside corpses or used as currency for prison sex. We just don't know. What do garage sale people do with their marbles before they sell them? You don't know either.
Fairness and Accountability Overview: Felix's rudimentary understanding of World War II is a clear cause for concern. However, it is clear that this game is abominable and was not made with human decency in mind, what with all the corpse and prison sex marbles involved. Kids put that shit in their mouths. That's disgusting.
Gaming should be enjoyed by everyone or no one, depending on which is most fair, even-handed, and ethical. It is clear that all games and no games have a variety of experiences to offer us and oppress us. Only through fully transparent, factually accurate, nonbiased journalism with a series of reviews and accountability checks in place can any of us hope to ever enjoy or hate these games, as is determined by everyone or no one, as is proper. Caucasian, heterosexual, cisgendered males are no better or worse than anyone, except perhaps women, but only as far as gaming goes or any other aspect of life, as determined by gamers if and when they choose to become arbitrarily upset by the presence of a uterus. Or the lack of one, if that is deemed proper.
For more from Felix, check out The 7 Most Sexually Deviant Creatures in Folklore. And then check out When Video Game Characters Finally Snap.