I needed to clear out shelf-space in my apartment, so I traded in three video games for a copy of Katamari Damacy. Besides sating the quiet desperation that Henry Thoreau always went on about, that purchase was a chance to check out one of the most controversial games of the year. Sure, you hear about the Grand Theft Autos and Manhunts of the world in the mainstream press all the time, but if you look the websites, the forums, the magazines, publications actually dealing exclusively with video games, the name that keeps coming up is Katamari Damacy.
Forces in the US are trying to pass laws regarding the censorship of violent video games. The argument goes that video games are not an art form, but rather a drug-like waste-of-time churning out armies of pre-pubescent kill-droids on to our city streets. Nobody seems to mention the falling crime rate among juveniles. Thank you, Roe v. Wade.
Now I’m sure that a couple of you out there are thinking “just how violent is this game?” Truth be told, not very. It’s rated E, the video game equivalent of a G rated movie.
The game begins with the King of the Cosmos destroying every star in the sky. In order to rectify his mistake, he charges his 5cm tall son, the Prince, to roll up objects in the earth into clumps they can make up a new night sky. So the game is essentially you, the prince, rolling up this ever expanding ball of objects, starting with ants, thumbtacks and erasers, and eventually people, trees, buildings, and Godzilla.
What results is a kind of Dr. Seuss version of the Rapture. When you’re rolling up every man, woman and child to be shot into space to cheery music and cute sound effects, the contrast is so macabre it just screams “Try and figure this one out, Gaijin Bitches!”
And having spent too much money on an art history class at SFU, I say, “OK”. Is this a critique of our consumerist society? Is it expressing the inevitability and absurdity of natural disaster, and in the end we are all just stardust? What was up with all the sumo wrestlers stuck headfirst in that gravel pile? Games like these don’t spring fully formed from Zeus’ brow. We do those video game designers a disservice when we refuse to put a little time in trying to figure out what they were trying to attempt and what those results mean to us.
And in other news, have a look a look at this site
This will either make you laugh, or make your head hurt. I call it the English language equivalent of rotten.com