Have you ever had that occasion where you had to tell yourself “No” when you really, really didn’t want to? When something you wanted so bad fought against some internal moral instinct and you had to decide who won, the desire or the cricket on your shoulder?
In the last two weeks, I had a similar situation that I wanted to share with you.
Let me preface this with the fact that there was a video game in the late nineties called Thief. It was a computer-only game that blew my mind at a friend’s house. A game where you were rewarded not to kill the bad guy? Where stealth was the key? I went out and bought a copy almost immediately. It would take another year before I could save up enough to buy a computer to play it on, but I would be ready when that moment happened. I held my copy of Thief on a shelf where I could look at it and dream. When I was able to plug that sucker into my newly purchased computer, it was akin to Indiana Jones thoughtfully considering the golden idol that would inevitably wind up in Bellock’s greedy hands. And when I finally turned out the lights in my computer room and pressed “Start” I was plunged into a world that brought me so much happiness for years to come.
At the beginning of 2012 (I believe) was when I first heard that Eidos Montreal were remaking my favorite game once again. Being of no great financial stature, I started trying to figure out how I would be able to pay for it. A plan was set in motion, I knew how to save for it. As the next few years went by, I read every bit of gossip, watched every interview and every snippet of game play footage I could get my hands on. I know many of you are rolling your eyes like unto a Mack Truck tire down the interstate, but remember: I’m a guy. This kind of thing is important to us.
So in the first week of February, we get the most comprehensive gameplay and butt-kickingest ads for the game, due out at the end of February! Woo! I’m about ready to pull down my pants and run around the parking lot! And then I see this on the opening screen.
Duh, duh, duuuuuuuuuh!
As a family man, I am always on the lookout to make sure certain things don’t enter my household to corrupt my kiddos. Now, let’s go down the list of why this game is rated M in no particular order, and why it disheartened me so.
- Blood- Not a big deal. In the Thief universe, you can avoid any blood or violence by simply playing the game in a non-violent manner. That was part of the charm of the game. Going through completely without any fatalities is part of the fun.
- Violence- See “Blood” above.
- Strong Language- What? Before, in all of the Thief games, the worst word used was “Taffer”- a made-up swear word that was used in lieu of actual swearing. Even though I work in a printing press where language is prominent, it doesn’t need to follow me home. STRIKE ONE.
- Use of Drugs- I see this like smoking: We don’t smoke, and we teach our kids not to smoke, but I don’t think watching someone smoking is necessarily a deal-breaker. I’ll call this a foul ball.
- Nudity- Ah, jeeze. I like to play games with the kids in the room, and I don’t want to be embarrassed about what comes on the screen. I also don’t like porn in any of its forms, so this is a big old STRIKE TWO.
- Strong Sexual Content- OH, COME ON! I know it’s an ‘M’ rating, but did you have to go out and just torch any chance of me ever looking at this game? Let me emphasize my distaste for anything that could remotely embarrass me in front of my kids or have my wife look at me sideways with the “We’re going to have a long talk about this.” expression on her face. This is not just a STRIKE THREE but GAME CALLED OFF DUE TO WEATHER. AND POSSIBLY AN ALIEN INVASION.
So, now I have two years of pent-up excitement, hopes, dreams and about six-month’s worth of saving up for a game that was just crapped on by somebody who thought the only way to make something better is to drag it through a sewage treatment plant. I realize, once again, that this is something that makes most people roll their eyes, but think of it this way: Imagine, in the last season of Down Town Abbey (yes, I know that’s not it’s name), they fire the staff and sell the abbey to Sweeney Todd with all of the blood, darkness and violence but without the music or Johnny Depp. It’s that bad.
So, where do we go from here? I have my copy reserved, the money paid up, the work put in, but now, Jiminy isn’t saying nice things in my ear. And he just poked me in the eye with his umbrella.
If you ever look at the internet from a bird’s eye view, it probably looks like the Autobahn turned in on itself, with a million cars going all directions as fast as they can. It’s constant motion with a billion opinions pushed in your face at all times and if you don’t think like they do, you’re wrong, Wrong, WRONG!
Now, think about a room full of people holding absolutely still. Suddenly, a guy goes running through this room in a chicken suit. Who are you going to notice most?
By the same token, imagine a room full of busy people running back and forth. Now, in your mind’s eye, place one person standing perfectly still in the center of the room. All these people have to move around this individual, but they stay rock-still. To whom are your eyes drawn?
Today, it seems like the only way to get attention to your ideas is to protest or shout or become a forum troll. Get people behind your cause! Shout at the other people until they don’t dare speak up! Shut out all the other voices but yours! Sometimes, in a room full of motion and noise, the most powerful voice is the quiet one. The person standing like a rock for what they think is right.
I’m not calling for a boycott of this game. I still wish I could play it. The playthroughs I’ve seen look amazing and exactly what I could hope for in a game. But I know what’s right for me and mine, and what I do and don’t want in my house, so I went to the store and cancelled my pre-order and took my son out to see The Lego Movie in celebration of making a hard decision.
By the same token, I feel that, if we disagree with some business or product or movie or book, do we really need to stage rallies and shout out every voice but our own? Bring down corporations and governments or whatnot because someone thinks differently than we? Remember, pulling down a corporation pulls down its employees, namely, our neighbors. And pulling down a government makes room for bigger, uglier dictators who may just be worse than the devils we know. Maybe standing completely still in a room full of voices, voting with your money or decisions is more powerful than those who would shout you out for simply standing for your beliefs.
And, when you do need to get pumped up, the main theme song of The Lego Movie has just been added to my “Songs that make me feel like I just ate a box of pop-rocks and chased it with a Mountain Dew” list.