In Paris I met with the guys from Gost Publishing, who are publishing Bad Day LA in France. After being relieved of my luggage at Charles de Gaulle airport (honestly, it was too heavy anyway) I made my way into Paris via the train and subway system. One thing I noticed was the French attitude â€œproblemâ€, which to me felt a lot like, â€œfigure it out on your own, stupid.â€ Even as I am hit over the head with it I canâ€™t help but agree with the sentiment. Tourists are often so insulated from the country they are visiting that they never get a true sense for the color, texture, and feel of the place. At least when you leave France you know you’ve been IN France!
Eidos was kind enough to allow our press event to take place within their offices (they are distributing BDLA in France). I presented the game three different times, to three different audiences of press people, working out the presentation on the fly. By the third presentation I had the format that I stuck with for the remainder of the tour: genesis of the concept, thematic overview, introduction to main character, basic game play overview, talk about interface, introduction of support characters, use of in-game and pre-rendered cinematics to tell the story, talk about weapons and tools, and then a run through of humorous and memorable moments from various areas in the game.
I was pleased that whenever I presented the game it was met with laughter at the appropriate moments. Even when I told the French reporters that the terrorists in the game were French, as a response to rampant anti-French sentiment in the US at the build-up to the Iraq war, they loved it. Every person I met with shared a sense of dismay, disappointment, and fear at what American foreign policy is doing to the world. Bad Day LA seems to provide a much needed comedic vent to our shared frustrations. And the best part, at least in my opinion, is that the game is opening a dialog about these issues in venues where such was previously non existent.
BDLA generated a LOT of non-game related questions such as, â€œ…why don’t American do something about their government?â€ Sadly I donâ€™t have the answer for this one. Polls indicate that we disapprove of our president, his war, and what heâ€™s doing to our rights as Americans, yet he remains in office, the war continues, and our rights are illegally stripped from us – all in the name of The War on Terror. Perhaps we should take something from the fact that Bush’s numbers improve whenever the media hypes the latest terror scare. Fear is a potent form of control.
When asked â€œ…what right do you have to make a game like this?â€ I responded for starters, my name is American. And last time I checked it was still legal for my opinion to differ from that of the government… at least that’s the case here in Hong Kong. Things probably won’t work like that for much longer in Bush’s US.
Bad Day LA may not turn out to be the best game ever made, but it certainly establishes the concept of a politically motivated, major video game. I love the fact that already the game is creating dialog and allowing alternate points of view to be expressed. On this trip Iâ€™ve been able to tell people that not all Americans are the same, that we share their frustrations, and would also like to see change.
Another question I heard a lot was, â€œwhy arenâ€™t big publishers making more games like this, politically motivated games?â€ I guess if BDLA is successful we might see more. Game, like films and books, can and should be used for expressing opinions on politics and the human condition.
For the fact that companies like Gost in France and Frogster in Germany are willing to publish games like this I have to give them great credit and great thanks.