The Right to Swear at Video Games

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My grand NANOWRIMO plans were derailed by the usual suspects. The 4yo brought home a head cold that channels snot from another dimension, and the wife’s work beckoned more bonus time than most other months. Also, and I don’t count this because I’m the one to blame, the PS4 arrived at my doorstep. Thus the illness that would have normally just invaded my work schedule also invaded my digital downtime. I continued to work and instead of taking some leisurely time with the new game console I went to bed and fell asleep with The Shining on my face. Creepy. Don’t fall asleep with The Shining on your face. Osmosis is real. But like the siren’s call, eventually the PS4 wooed me into its trap. That I lasted four days without so much as opening the box should be considered medal-worthy.

Resogun

Resogun on the PS4

After being mesmerized for days by a simple Galaga-esque free download called Resogun (brilliant nostalgia-inducing gaming) I tried my hand at NBA2K14. I’ve been fan of the franchise, if not necessarily the NBA. I can’t remember the last time I sat through more than one whole quarter of NBA basketball. But I digress. Seeing as how I only play the 2K franchise every other year at best, I had to dust off the cobwebs and learn the new tricks. Seeing as how I’m 35 now, I take longer to process the dust off the cobwebs and even longer to learn the new tricks. I’m just not the same unstoppable gaming force that once beat Ghosts ‘n Goblins on the NES. If you’re not familiar with the legendary difficulty of Ghosts ‘n Goblins, this website has a nice writeup on the series, explaining why so many people have taken sledgehammers to this game.

Ghosts'n Goblins

Now, regarding my NBA2K futility. I knew full well that when I begin to tinker around in an NBA2K I was going to stink. I always stink. And I rarely stick with it long enough to achieve any measure of success. My career-mode character gets derailed after two or three seasons of pine-riding and lack of defensive skills. I eventually get cut and end up selling t-shirts outside arenas, trading on my status as a failed NBA prospect to feed my various addictions.

In my third or fourth game, I missed a layup. I always specialize as a three-point shooter so the opportunity to drive the basket felt revolutionary. After missing the layup I hustled back in a rage and molested Stephen Curry in order to get the ball back. Well, as they do, the refs called a foul for throwing the other team’s star player into the third row. I don’t remember exactly what I said but it was likely derived from my standard playbook of choice phrases. We’ll go with “Oh, fuck off…” which would have been followed by me dropping my controller (controller destruction prevention) while the opposing team sinks their free throws. Instead, the ref called a technical foul on me. I knew it was on me because the in-game camera showed my character shaking his head in disgust. In the top right corner flashed the icon that appears when the PS4’s microphone is in-use. I presumed this indicated that I’d been slapped on the wrist for my colorful reaction to the ref.

My in-game character had been given a technical fowl because I told the game to “fuck off”?

Wut?

I refused to believe it. I assumed it was just a coincidence… a random event triggered in the simulation by my otherwise flagrant foul. Clearly my character had been aggravated. That couldn’t be what happened. Except, during the next game, I tested my theory. After the ref called a fowl on me, I clearly and deliberately called the ref a “shit-smoking hippie from the planet Uranus.” I got another technical foul… and I didn’t even get bonus points for the elaborate slur.

Myth proven: the microphone on the PS4 camera reacts to what we say while we’re playing, even in off-line games.

While that is wicked cool, I must take offense. One of our inalienable rights as gamers is the right to swear at your game when it does you wrong. When you miss that jump in the last castle in World 8 in Super Mario Bros. 3 for the seventh time in a row you have the absolute right to call that smirking fireball a “cunt-sucking flaming twatterball.” In fact, you should get bonus points for really good rage-fueled slurs. An extra life perhaps. It’s a necessary moment of relief. If video games start penalizing us for colorful language even during off-line games, you’re going to have a rash of in-home destruction the likes of which you haven’t seen since the bike race in Battletoads.

This guy gives it a nice go before he loses his shit:

This game has reduced me to swearing like my middle school basketball couch, who in the three years I knew him never said anything more profane than “cheese and rice” or “sugar.” And I won’t stand for it. But I might disconnect the camera from the PS4 because when I need to bitch out the digital representation of a referee, goddammit, I’m going to let those motherflipping expletives fly. We must defend our right to swear at video games that deserve it.

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