GameSpy: Bad Day L.A. Preview

Continuing this morning’s BDLA posts… John Keefer over at GameSpy has posted his preview thoughts…

GameSpy: Bad Day L.A. Preview
American McGee likes to go against the grain. From his Alice game in 2000 featuring a wonderland on crack to his unfulfilled vision of Oz gone bad, his contrarian views on culture and conventional perceptions definitely cut across the comfort zone of the average person. None of that seems to bother McGee, as he continues to play in the dark, much the way Tim Burton has done in his movies.

John’s understated preview belies the somewhat rambunctious discussion that inspired it. I felt a little uneasy after showing John the game. He didn’t laugh out loud during the preview and didn’t make any immediate comments afterwards. Instead, when I was done, he ushered Sibel (our PR person) and myself out of his office and to some chairs in the GameSpy reception area. Suddenly I felt like I had done something wrong.

I flashed back to when I was in elementary school. I sat outside my house on the front steps with a friend of mine. We were cursing. I can’t remember what we were cursing about; we had only recently discovered these “bad” words and were having a great time playing with them. Suddenly my mother was standing behind us. She startled us badly. We turned to her and she smiled. “Uh-oh”, I thought. I could see “Uh-oh” written on my friend’s face as well. “I have a present for you American”, she said sweetly. Fear was replaced by happy expectation. My friend asked, “Do you have one for me too?” My mother grinned even wider, “Sure. If you want one.” She then asked me to close my eyes and open my mouth. I obliged. Next thing I knew liquid dish soap was being squirted into my mouth. The last I saw of my friend he was flying across my front yard screaming. He wanted none of this “present”. My dirty mouth had been washed with soap. I spat and burped bubbles for an hour.

Over lunch John and I discussed the game, its inspirations, content, and my hopes for its impact on people. John made several interest points about the concept and was generally positive in his views of it. But there was one issue where he took clear exception: foul language. See, every other word out of our main character’s mouth is either four lettered or four lettered with an “ass” attached to it. John’s strong opinion was that this content does nothing to help the game’s message and it doesn’t do much to help the comedy. If anything it could be seen as a comedic crutch and could seriously limit the mass-market appeal.

So now we’re playing with the idea of bleeping the offending dialog. John and my mom will be happy. Will you?



11 responses to “GameSpy: Bad Day L.A. Preview”

  1. hmm I think it will be better… I cant watch any good tv shows or play any good video games cause my mom is Super Christian. Anything that has foul language, violence, or nudity is banned from her home… and I am really interested in BDLA so that would be good. She threw out my Alice game even… she just had to walk by as Alice’s head blew up.

  2. Would it mean too much work to make it an in-game option? Cursing: On/Off…

  3. I’ve been really interested in Bad Day L.A. since reading the interview at IdleThumbs. The game scenario lends itself perfectly well to vast amounts of cursing. I mean, when are curse words to be used, if not in dire situations where the world seems to be falling apart? Hell, I imagine that most everyone not screaming their heads off would be cursing up a storm.

    The danger is that, as a society, we misuse curse words on a daily basis. Having an urban black character cursing throughout the game could be seen as overly stereotypical or an attempt to cash-in on the urban-gangster-game trend started by GTA: SA.

    Bleeping out the language isn’t as big an issue as how the language is used in the first place. Do we get to see the hero before he chooses to disengage with society? Does he curse like a sailor then? Is he the only one cursing, or are those people running around, engulfed in flame, shouting blasphemes as well?

    Once, when I was about ten or so, I was playing basketball on our driveway with my dad and a few friends. I clumsily tripped on a shoe lace and landed on the concrete… on my face. I thought I’d knocked some teeth out, and in-between sobs I yelled the f-word. I looked up at my conservative Christian dad, scared to see that “Uh-oh” face, but he didn’t say anything. It was an appropriate time to curse, and it was closely tied to the emotional atmosphere of the event.

    Looking at the Bad Day: LA screenshots, I can sense the impact of a character that appears to have jumped out of a children’s story book yelling a curse word as he attempts to save the life of a kid who desperately needs hospital attention. The question is: will that impact last throughout the game? And will it be lessened if the characters curse regardless of what is happening?

  4. Actually… having cursing as an option would be SUPER! Perhaps even three levels of “cursiosity”. I don’t mind a bomb here and there, but I can see how some people would be irritated with it after a while.

  5. Well there is always the Censorship Effect; the idea that bleeping out or adding black bars on anything that could be depicted as “obscene” makes the hidden elements that much more mature- one’s mind is conditioned over time to hear the “censor beep” sound as sort of an alarm for vulgar material; thus the forbidden nature of the content coupled with the conditioned response to the sound makes the censored elements much more graphic- while simultaneously appeasing those who dislike foul language.

    Some movies have used this technique- for example: “Spun” is rated “R” in the states, so it is acceptable to say fuck, cunt, shit, cock, etc.,.. and they do many times in the film, but occasionally they bleep something out; a style that makes the terms that much more “dirty.”

  6. As a screenwriter/author, I can appreciate the raw use of language. From a gaming standpoint, raw language can detract very quickly. However, when used sparingly and appropriately, language can take a comedy routine that much further. So, in short, keep the language in there, but use it sparingly and when appropriate.

  7. i think that it’s not only important to consider the appropriate situation when curse words are used (falling on your face or jumping off the side of the building would definitely count) but also to check how the curse words are delivered. the movie pulp fiction is an endless stream of curse words (what else is samuel l. jackson famous for?) but because the actors spoke each line so fluidly, the curse words become a part of the vocabulary of the movie’s made-up world. i’ve watched movies where the characters are cursing left and right but it’d sound repetitive and somewhat annoying because of poor acting skills.

    as long as the cursing helps to flesh out a character, it shouldn’t matter how much of it there is. if every single character in bdla were mouthing off for no good reason just because they can, then it might get annoying and seem somewhat pretentious.

    as they say, my two cents.

  8. Hard to say; in all seriousness, when I was younger and watching a rated R or PG-13 movie and a ‘cuss’ word would come on in the presence of my parents, I would feel awkward. Or, when the South Park game came out on the Nintendo 64, a friend brought it over and we played. I would basically sit and terror and fear while playing, not of the game but of the swears in the game, and the fear of my parents playing.

    Although it wouldnt affect me now, thinking of your high school audience, it might just grab some of them in the same position it put me into.

  9. I just saw the bdla trailer and you had me chuckle a few times. I almost expected some building to display the homeland security terror alert level on it’s roof and then be hit by a meteor 😉

    Now. cursewords.
    The short version:
    I would greatly appreciate a non-bleeped version and would probably not buy a bleeped one. (that said I’m not american, so maybe you can release an “international” version)
    The long one:
    I personally give a rat’s ass about people saying “fuck”, “shit” etc… since I believe it says something about them, not me, and am a strong believer in freedom of speech. (Plus I never quite understood the american obsession with “bad words”, but that’s another topic)
    Now from what I gleamed from the story (black-homeless-by-choice-guy survives in disaster) you obviously did not go the “a distinguished gentleman in disguise”- route for the main actors character but that he is someone who chooses to display a very exclusive attitude towards society because he is sick of it. I think it very much fits the picture that he would express this repellant attitude towards the people representing this society verbally.
    So even if someone feels swearing does not help to get the game’s message across, from my limited knowledge of the games plot it at least helps to flesh out the character (and therefore does bring the gam’s message across).
    Plus the main character has certainly a distinct stench surrounding him. since we luckily do not have smell-n-play, I think the cussing is one of the best ways to visualize (or better auralize) the big wall the character has erected to shut out “normal” society.
    On a sidenote I find it utterly amusing that a virtual someone who chose to be an outcast, despises society and does it’s darned best to keep society away from him actually manages to enrage someone from real society in such a deep way.

    Maybe you were a little too thorough in portraying this outcast. maybe you should have made him more like the pirates from “monkey island” 😉

    What I absolutely can not stand is this damn bleeping business. I think it’s so utterly ridiculus and immature. plus it annoys the hell out of me. Either say it, because you mean it, or be creative if you feel uncomfortable saying a caertain word. It’s not that troglodyte is not a perfectly good insult 😉
    And games that annoy me have to be really really good before I’m willing to bear through the annoyances (and actually buy them).
    So here’s my two cents – no I don’t take them back, you asked for them 😀

  10. I for one, absolutly DESPISE censorship, especially for something as petty as cursing. I would love to see an option to have it bleeped. That way, those who are against it, can have it their way, and people like me, can have it my way. Definitely the best idea.

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