Plymouth Suck

« April 2006 »

Memo to Jeff Johnson: YOU ARE DUMB.

Jeff Johnson is a Republican in the Minnesota House of Representatives. State congressman is the Gap T-Shirt Folder of politics. It's entry level. This is why state reps grace this page so often. They've got a few thousand constituents, tops. As small fish in a small pond, they can get their crazy-ass retard ideas for laws out there in a way Alan Keyes only dreams of.

And Johnson, the representative for Minneapolis suburb and urban-sprawl ghetto Plymouth, has a crazy-ass retard idea for protecting our tender young children from being corrupted by the violent video games.

This is the point at which long-time readers of the column are digging out their checklists and making their predictions. And yes, Jeff Johnson did hit all the high points in his lengthy weekend editorial piece.

Hyperbole? Check. "We're not talking about the equivalent of an R-rated slasher movie. Many of these games are absolutely horrific. They allow kids to learn firsthand how to kill, torture, mutilate and rape in graphic detail."

Wait, rape? I follow games really closely. I've played them for decades. And I only know of one game ever that has you, as the protagonist, controlling a rape. And that's the infamous Atari 2600 game "Custer's Revenge", where you dodge arrows in the hopes of poking a two-pixel penis into something that, taken with a huge dollop of authorial intent, is supposed to be a tied-up Native American woman. Awful, awful game, but I can't imagine it's what Johnson meant when he said "graphic detail".

And kids do not learn first-hand how to kill, torture, and mutilate. Despite what the Jeff Johnsons of the world would have you believe, most game developers are barely able to manage an vague abstracted experience. They don't learn how to kill. They learn that the guy flops over if you aim and press R1. Games have a "torture" button, which as far as I know, only has one real-life equivalent, and it's in Alberto Gonzalez' office.

Cluelessness about the market? Check. Guys like this always have a list. And Jeff Johnson's list hits the four stereotypes so perfectly he may have used the Microsoft Word "Conservative Jackass" template. There's the Popular Bugaboo, the Hyped Failure, the PC Game, and the Obscurity.

His popular bugaboo is, of course, Grand Theft Auto, for which he recycles the by-now-quaint "fuck a hooker, kill her, and take her money" game mechanic. Which the game does let you do. But doing this will not progress you in the game. It's a really inefficient way to get health back. Bringing it up as a criticism of GTA is like saying Citizen Kane is dangerous because someone got hurt sledding.

The hyped failure is "Manhunt", a game everybody talked about, five percent of everybody bought, and one percent of everybody liked. It's full of brutal murder with a "snuff" film theme, but if that's all it took to make a hit and destroy youthful innocence, civilization would have collapsed before the first Playstation came out.

The PC game is "Postal 2". If your second-grade child is able to purchase, install, and run "Postal 2", you don't yell at him. You send him off to college, because you've got a FUCKING PRODIGY on your hands. And if he's smart enough to install it, he's smart enough to stop playing it after five minutes.

And then there's "Clock Tower 3". Again, I follow this shit pretty closely, and I didn't remember them getting up to a third Clock Tower game. Jeff Johnson describes it as a survival horror game about brutal murders. Whatever. Children are not buying Clock Tower 3. Children are not playing Clock Tower 3. Clock Tower 3 is certainly not "readily available at any large retailer or video rental store in Minnesota.", as Johnson claims. Best Buy doesn't sell it. Target doesn't sell it. Toys R Us doesn't sell it. EBGames only sells it used. Hell, Amazon doesn't even carry it unless you count affiliated sellers. I can only think of one reason Johnson would pick Clock Tower 3 over, say, Resident Evil 4, which is just as violent, just as mature, just as bloody, and was sold by and played by damn near everyone.

He was cribbing from a list he got off some right-wing website. There's simply no way he could have come across that kind of detail on an ultra-obscure Japanese horror game that came out THREE YEARS AGO on his own. He's a clueless liar who's jumping on a popular bandwagon in a vain attempt at self-promotion. Which, to be fair, is the sum total of his required duties as a state representative, but still, he's a fucking idiot.

Because he's suggesting we stop kids from buying Clock Tower 3 and other M-rated games by hitting them with a $25 fine when they do. How do you enforce that? Does the shop owner who's not supposed to be selling them the game in the first place bust them after the sale is made? Do we station cops outside stores checking bags? Do parents write their kids tickets? And getting past all that, what kind of deterrent is a $25 fine for buying a $50 game? That's the kind of slap on the wrist Republicans like Johnson usually give to Exxon.