There's no denying the serious issues surrounding video game violence, but there's something to be said for being able to laugh at or parody the depths some game makers and the industry in general sink to. Largely at play here is the mockery of the marketing of such games, as in The Simpsons. Violent or just ridiculously gory games are typically advertised to promote the very thing these games are later targeted for by the media and game watchdogs. Fear Effect II's television ad featured a brief lesbian kiss scene that created a stir and put the game in people's minds. Advertisers seem to figure that kids are impressionable, so they use these tactics often. The following games are humorous takes on this concept.
Bonestorm, Celebrity Autopsy, Larry the Looter, others
Source: The Simpsons
Bart Simpson embodies video game makers' target audience, so naturally games are a big part of The Simpsons--or at least a prop in many episodes. Bonestorm stands out as one of the most exceptional, due to Bart's run-in with the law for acquiring his copy the five-finger-discount way. Bart originally tries to buy a copy of this pseudo Mortal Kombat game at the comic shop by throwing a handful of change on the counter. The comic shop owner wryly tells him he doesn't have enough money, so Bart executes plan B and ends up nabbed by Try-N-Save security. Bonestorm's television ad in the show states, "Buy Bonestorm! Or go to hell!!"
Games such as Eat My Shorts, Escape From Death Row, Celebrity Autopsy, and Larry the Looter all appear at the Kwik-E-Mart, Noiseland, or the Try-N-Save store. Another locale is the Wall E. Weasel's (Chuck E. Cheese's). You can view The Simpsons Archive for a list of all known video games featured on the show.
Game Slave 2
Source: Invader Zim (formerly on Nickelodeon)
The now-canceled, cultishly popular Invader Zim animated series on Nickelodeon tapped into youth culture as The Simpsons did, so naturally games made an appearance. In the episode "Game Slave 2," the character Gaz hears that the Game Slave 2, a portable game system like the Game Boy Advance, goes on sale at midnight. By the time she gets there, the line is out the door, and so she waits. Amusing gamer stereotypes surround her, including a kid who believes he will get a GS2 before her because he is, among other things, "a superior gamer." Gaz gets to the front of the line, and the store is sold out but for one preorder who hasn't shown up.
The entire episode was about Gaz's struggle to score the Game Slave 2 and was strangely apropos--clearly written by someone who has waited in line for a game system and not just viewed the phenomenon from the outside.
The archival Web site TVTome.com reported that Game Slave 2 was originally going to be called "Game Slave Advance"; however, an "unnamed" game company would not let that happen.
First Person Shooter
Source: The X-Files (Season 7, Episode 13)
In one episode of the X-Files, Fox Mulder and Dana Scully are called upon to investigate mysterious deaths caused by a virtual reality game called, simply, "First Person Shooter." The VR game puts the player in the shoes of a warrior who must shoot his way through various scenarios. Two deaths occur from strange circumstances within the VR game--one apparently caused by a 17th-century flintlock pistol and the other a gruesome mutilation/decapitation by broadsword. From observing the game sessions, the murders appear to have been perpetrated by a renegade female AI character, who, in tune with the paranormal theme of the show, has no corporeal counterpart in the "real" world.
One of the running themes in the episode is corporate indifference to the effects of video games. The developers of "FPS" are portrayed as greed-mongers, eager to bring their nearly completed game to market as soon as possible, even in the face of twin tragedies caused directly by their game. One of the developers in particular is a caricature of a game programmer--lacking in empathy, unremorseful for the deaths of two men, and with a single-minded interest in seeing his project reach the market.
While pondering the specifics of the case, the two FBI agents engage in a trite, shallow discussion about the value of violent games. The flippant nature of this scene and the episode as a whole is all the more disappointing given that the famed William Gibson (author of Johnny Mnemonic and Neuromancer) is credited as a cowriter to the episode.
SCULLY: Dressing up like high-tech warriors to play a futuristic version of Cowboys and Indians? What kind of moron gets his ya-yas out like that?
(MULDER grins and points proudly at himself.)
SCULLY: Mulder, what--what purpose does this game serve except to add to a culture of violence in a country that's already out of control?
MULDER: Who says it adds to it?
SCULLY: You think that taking up weapons and creating gratuitous virtual mayhem has any redeeming value whatsoever? I mean, that the testosterone frenzy that it creates stops when the game does?
MULDER: Well, that's rather sexist, isn't it?
(SCULLY gives him a look. She is smiling, though.)
MULDER: I mean, maybe the game provides an outlet for certain impulses, that it fills a void in our genetic makeup that the more civilizing effects of society failed to provide for.
SCULLY: Well, that must be why men feel the great need to blast the crap out of stuff.