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Joke Nukem? Does that even work

February 9, 2011

Duke Nukem Forever, hopefully not forever.

A couple of days ago, I got into a bit of a lather over the press release for the upcoming Call of Juarez: The Cartel game. Not over the fact that the game has been probably-stupidly-but-I’m-not-allowed-judge-yet transplanted into the GRITTY AND MODERN 21st century, rather than sticking with the Wild West theme that’s given the series what little notoriety its garnered to this point. Not with the horrible, seagulls’s-beaks-in-my-eyes torture that was enduring the unrelenting marketing speak that made up what vague semblance of information we were given – hey, it’s a press release, not a PC Gamer preview. Of course they’re going to herald the announcement of the game as I would an actual call from Juarez, my long lost Mexican millionaire cousin who looks exactly like me except his skin doesn’t reflect sunlight like a mirror and also he wears an attractive moustache.

No, my problem with the press release was that rather than attributing all that vague hyperbolic spiel to the lead designer or the producer or a voice actor or a project director or the King of Ubisoft, they quoted Caroline Stevens: BRAND DIRECTOR. Why, I asked myself, would I give a hot holy damn about what a BRAND DIRECTOR would have to say about a game? Especially considering the fact that the game seems to be entirely abandoning what little branding it actually had in the first place. Why, why, WHY couldn’t they give us a quote from someone meaningfully connected with the game? Why can’t the developers tell us why THEY think the game’s exciting? They’d know best! They made it! Why not let them share their enthusiasm, you cruel Marketing Gods?

Today I found out why.

I point you in the direction of VG247’s interview with Gearbox’s Randy Pitchford, promoting the upcoming, almost necrophiliac release of the long-thought-dead Duke Nukem Forever. During this interview, while babblingly trying to explain why he thinks feminists probably won’t like this game but he hasn’t really thought about it but he doesn’t mind feminism really it’s just not really relevant to his job yet until there’s backlash and anyway it’s all just a bit of fun and it’s about perception but anyway, he commits the most cardinal sin human beings can possibly commit: he tries to explain why his jokes are funny.

I think the humour, to me, is kind of like South Park or Family Guy, you get into it almost sarcastically. It’s kind of like the American stuff with Duke. As an American, I grew up in California and now live in Texas, it’s like you almost push him to the point where you’re lampooning that attitude. You know like big American flags behind Duke. I can imagine the truly patriotic people are kind of like “Dude, don’t be on my team” because we’re trying to be sarcastic about it too. We’re trying to be sarcastic about that male, macho culture. It’s kind of sarcastic about it.

NNNGGGHHHHHH. No. Stop. I’ve never read anything quite so laboured. You’re not helping your cau— what, you’ve got more?

What’s interesting about Duke’s world is that it is kind of like our world but it’s twisted. Like an upside down, topsy-turvy version of our world. It’s only what we react to because we are looking at it through the lens of our world. And all of us have slightly different lenses but when we see things like, for example, in the real world there is a hotel called the Bellagio but in Duke’s world there is a hotel called Fellatio. What’s funny about this is that in Duke’s world that this is normal. I can’t imagine families going there, like children, and not noticing that the whole fucking place is a reference to blow-jobs. That’s why it’s funny because in his world it’s serious. Some of it is commentary and satire and sometimes just silliness.

DAAAAAUUUUUUGGGGHHHH. “You see, it’s funny, because in the real world, it’s not like that! Right? Am I right? It’s crazy!”

Give me bland marketing speak. Keep the developers locked in their special coding cages. Just stop this pain. PLEASE.

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