This month in “Versus Mode” we have:
ZACH RICH VS. NATHANIEL HOOVER
Zach Rich is a current GameCola staff member who writes videogame reviews and sometimes appears on “The GameCola Podcast.” He’s also recently started a brand-new column called “Things Zach Rich Demands to See Before his Death in 2020.” This is Zach’s third appearance in Versus Mode, having written previously in the BRAWL FOR THE BRAWL and in NewbieMania.
Nathaniel Hoover is also a current GameCola staff member who writes videogame reviews and sometimes appears on “The GameCola Podcast.” He also writes the monthly column “Flash Flood,” in which he reviews Flash animations and games. He edits articles for GameCola, and he’s in charge of our YouTube page, on which he’s recently posted video walkthroughs ofMega Man 1, 2, and 3. This is Nathaniel’s first appearance in “Versus Mode.”
Zach: When I was a young lad, up until I was about 16, the rule in my house was that I could only play videogames when I had permission from my parents to do so. This usually led to temper tantrums when I was really little and truly addicted to Mario Party like heroin (replace needles with dice blocks and the nasty feeling you get being a heroin addict with the blisters the palm of your hand gets after rotating the N64 joystick for a minute straight. I’ve never won the Tug of War minigame, either). However, it also compelled me to pursue other activities, like reading books, or going outside, or developing a social life, or destroying said social life by being a fascist dictator to all my friends.
The moral of the story is that parents are the ones who should be monitoring their children’s playtime with videogames, until the kids are old enough to realize that there’s more to life then wasting their lives playing WoW with a bunch of overweight, acne-ridden 47 year olds who wasted their own lives playing Zork because their parents were too busy cheating on each other with TV repairmen. Or, you know, parents sometimes get addicted to videogames themselves. I remember being locked out of my room for days at a time because my parents couldn’t shake the drug that was Pokémon Puzzle League.
Someone should lay claim to the sentence “Parents should be responsible for their children.” They’d make a bloody fortune.
Nathaniel: I recall a time when parents took responsibility for their children and didn’t rely on external regulations to do the parenting for them. Even if you’ve totally failed to keep an eye on your kid’s gaming habits or instill any sense of self-control in your child, somebody has to pay for the game and for Internet access, and you can bet it’s not little Willy Warlock.
Besides, when it comes to addicting videogames, it’s not like adults are necessarily any more resistant to the temptation of working extra hours for Nickwinkle the Metro-Gnome instead of working a real job so that they can keep food on the table for them and their wives, who will kill them for real if they fail that quest.
Even if minors aren’t allowed to buy or, by extension (at least in theory), playWorld of Warcraft, what’s stopping them from getting hopelessly hooked on supposedly not-as-addictive games such as Burnout Paradise, or on Flash games such as Dino Run that are virtually impossible to regulate? I think it will take us more than legislation to curtail the problems introduced by a game that is just too engrossing for its own good.
Now, this particular article implies that the idea to restrict sales came about because someone believes there is a link between addictive videogames and violent behavior, which I just don’t buy. But that’s another argument entirely.
Zach: Learning that working at GameStop means free games almost makes me regret my role in the world as a lifeguard. I mean, I’d be playing all the new releases, and there’d be fewer dumb, fat people in the world who think they can swim with their little flabby arms.
Nevertheless, it’s still false advertising. Charging full price for something a greasy GameStop employee had been using for God knows how long seemskinda annoying, especially when the disc might not be in the best condition when you get it. This is only a rumor, but…I hear that GameStop employees like using games they’ve borrowed from the store as…pleasure simulators. When I was 12, I bought a copy of Jet Force Gemini from a GameStop. It was really sticky.
Nathaniel: If employees played the games, stuck them back in the packages, shrink-wrapped them to look like they were never opened, and then marketed them as “new,” I’d have a problem with this. However, while there’s statistically a greater chance that something will happen to the game disc when it’s being brought home by an employee, all it takes is one klutzy cashier to damage your game when putting it into the package at the counter. If the game has to be out of the package in the first place, there’s no sense in denying employees a chance to try it out if they’re diligent about keeping it in perfect condition. (Don’t ask me how to enforce that.)
People buy “new” shoes all the time that dozens of customers before them have tried on. This is not necessarily a bad thing. I mean, think about it: you might be wearing the same shoes that Jonathan Blow, creator of Braid, once wore. Especially if you’re Jonathan Blow. Doesn’t that reek of awesome (and Blow)?
There’s an easy solution: If you don’t like GameStop’s policy, shop somewhere else.
Zach: Um. It’s your job. You’re paid to be there. You make videogames for a living. Hell, the guy in this article works at Epic. Your company has made some of themost well-received videogames in this generation. And you’recomplaining? Maybe you should work at Bungie. If the Halo 3 Legendary Edition’s bonus disc tells me anything, it’s that working at Bungie means non-stop smiles. Or, you could be a GameStop employee. I hear they get free sex toys there.
Nathaniel: Last I checked, videogame developers are human beings, and as such they should be treated the same as other working human beings (that is, “working” in the “employed” sense, not the “functional” sense, though that’s important, too). Which is better: having three mediocre games from overworked developers, or having one outstanding game whose developers are all still alive and remember what their families look like?
Frankly, I don’t mind having to wait for a videogame to come out, because (at least with the few modern games I’ve cared about) it’s usually worth the wait. We’ll find out whether or not I’m right by the end of this year when Duke Nukem Forever is finally released.
Zach: I’m more interested in whether or not the Trans-Siberian Orchestra will release their fifth album, Nightcastle, after saying it would come out “this year” for the past four years. They’re none too afraid to tease us with beautiful symphonies that drive me to tears every year when I see them in concert, and yet they TEASE me endlessly about that pesky disc showing its face! They have the first track, “Night Enchanted,” on iTunes right now; now get the rest of it out!
Nathaniel: By the end of this year? Not a chance. And wasn’t that supposed to be a Sega CD game?
I understand that a few key people at 3D Realms read last month’s “Flash Flood” column about addicting games, so any chance we had of getting Duke Nukem Forever this year has been dashed by paper aeroplanes. The game will be done when it’s done, which means that we won’t ever receive an official release date: one day we’ll walk into the store to find the final version of Duke Nukem Forever suddenly on the shelves with no formal announcement of its arrival whatsoever, and every single GameStop employee will lie to you and say that the cases shipped without the discs inside, just to see the look on your face. “Ha ha,” they will say. “Ha ha.”
Zach: It’s a videogame. There are no rules saying that you can’t play what you want when you’re older.Animal Crossing is a fun game designed for people of all ages to play. If you want to play it, go right ahead.
Now, when you’re playing a game online, there are different choices you have to make. I like to think of myself as being out in public when playing an online game. The only difference is you can walk around naked, and no one will notice your 15-inch wee-wee sticking out. When parents let their children wander loose in a public place, the kids tend to get themselves lost, or start talking to strangers, or get in a stranger’s car.
So, look at that! It’s the damn PARENTS’ fault again. This is why I propose a new tax. I call it the “Videogaming Tax.” Every time a child gets into a bad situation because of a videogame, the parents are taxed two (2) testicles and one (1) vagingo. I think that would be good incentive for them to watch their children like a fat kid watches the donuts on display at a bakery.
Nathaniel: Oh no! If they also ban the sale of Animal Crossing to minors, who will be left to play it?
There are plenty of legitimate reasons for an adult to playAnimal Crossing: it’s easy for even a novice to pick up and play, and the game is a great way to relax, waste some time collecting and redecorating, feel the accomplishment of paying off an imaginary debt, and make virtual friends when you can’t make real ones (speaking from experience here). I can understand where the cute factor and kid-friendliness of Animal Crossing would lead someone to believe the game is “childish” and shouldn’t be played by adults, but more than anything else, the heart of this argument seems related to the conceptual weirdness of grown adults fraternizing with little kids using Wii Speak.
On the one hand, I have enough experience as a babysitter, camp counselor, and older brother to know that it can be extremely fun to ditch all pretense of being an adult and quickly join a child on the couch because the floor has instantly become hot lava (a surprisingly common household problem), so I don’t see anything wrong about adults playing supposedly “childish” games with people significantly younger than them. On the other hand, the laid-back atmosphere of Animal Crossing is more conducive to having actual conversations—you know, ones more sophisticated than, “oh noes!” or “haha i fragged joo”—than in most other games. This suggests to me that there’s a greater risk of encountering creeps in Animal Crossing than in any given FPS, where you barely have a chance to talk because you’re too busy pwning that n00b over yonder.
There’s nothing wrong with an adult playing Animal Crossing, and there’s nothing wrong with an adult interacting with kids while playing Animal Crossing, but the less game-related the conversations become—especially where really young kids are involved—the more OK it is to wonder whether these strangers are playing for the “wrong reasons.”