After reviewing the column below, the editors have decided to add a few footnotes for clarity and so as not to be the subject of angry comments. If you feel the need to be angry anyway, please review the definition of satire before writing it. Then post your angry rant in all caps, with as many emojis as possible. Remember, if it doesn’t have emojis, you’re not really feeling anything.
Video games are having a bit of a tricky PR problem at the moment, as a bunch of politicians on all sides of the aisle have suddenly remembered that video games a great thing to talk about while making a frowny face at a news camera. Reporters also like to frown about video games, because that makes their stories more interesting. Otherwise, they’re back to doing features about the four things under your kitchen sink that can kill you.
I’m not here to discuss any of these problems from a political point of view.1 All I want is to keep things from getting out of hand and big-brother-y. Fortunately, I’ve come up with a genius2 plan to get everyone off video gaming’s back for a bit.
It’s based on a tried-and-true3 strategy from the analog era.4 All we have to do is add a lot of cosmetic education and virtue features to video games. Like how when everyone was worried about cartoons rotting kids’ brains, they just slapped on a moral lesson and all of a sudden, cartoons based on toys were totally unobjectionable.5
Or how you can get parents to approve of anything — games, new genres of music, soft core porn6 — if you can just figure out how to make it “educational” (i.e. “boring”7). Bonus points if you can work God or the Bill of Rights into the mix.8
Obviously, we just need to add a few of these crowd-pleasing elements to video games. To get the ball rolling, I’ve come up with three I think will really help.9
1. Replace med packs by having players regenerate life through healthy, low-carb, balanced meals. But not too low-carb or too healthy. We want to teach kids about being healthy, but we also want to teach them not to develop damaging attitudes about food. Because we all hate childhood obesity, but love fat kids. Or something. I don’t know. The whole thing is pretty confusing to me. Come to think of it, maybe we should make the meal vegan too.
2. Be sure to end all player vs. player contests with a positive message that discourages bullying and acknowledges the humanity of all who participated. I’m thinking of something like, “Congratulations sickkitty420! You won! But remember, you’re all winners today. Even you, xxCreeperFanxx. Don’t be discouraged by your terrible score, xxCreeperFanxx. You tried and that’s what’s important. Now, who’s ready for another deathmatch?” Maybe everyone could get a little reward just for taking part in the game. Some kind of participation trophy, perhaps.
3. Have key characters stop in-game to deliver safety and health tips. The model here, of course, is the old “Knowing Is Half the Battle” PSA at the end of the G.I. Joe cartoons. Only modified for popular video game characters. Imagine how powerful it would be to have Kratos take a moment and remind players that flossing twice a day helps reduce gum disease. Or Bayek could pause before an assassination to review the proper way to make sure you’ve put out a campfire completely. Honestly, there are so many great lessons to be learned here.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited about how these small changes could convince politicians and parents to leave video games alone and go back to complaining about movies and television shows.10
With this list and the other tools at their disposal, I’m sure the gaming industry can make that happen. “What other tool?” you ask. Why money,11 of course. Lots and lots of money.
1Thank God, right?
2Nope, not even close. Not even by the most generous definition of the term.
4Not really a thing, but we think she means the 80s and 90s.
5This seems like an exaggeration. Our researchers are looking into it, but frankly it was a long night and they’re not in the mood. I doubt we’re going to be able to substantiate it today.
6This is only true in certain parts of California and Nevada.
8If you never had to memorize a rap about God or the separation of powers and perform it in front of a crowd of fidgeting classmates, then you can’t really comprehend the exquisite agony of watching three white boys named “Matt” try to freestyle about the Seventh Amendment (the right to a jury trial).
9They really, really won’t.
10Nope. It’s more likely that Elon Musk will become a Hare Krishna than it is that this plan will work.
11This plan (the money one), however, has promise.
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