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Ah, binary decision making. It is, perhaps, unsurprising that computer games have often presented distinct binary choices to players as ways of enlivening and complicating the stories they tell. After all, computers themselves are built on binary logic. Is it any wonder that the narratives built on top of computer systems often seem to reflect the programmer’s obsession with 1s and 0s, the concept of on and off?

Of course, what this has led to in the recent past is any number of video games in which players play a protagonist that can be developed in stark terms, choosing to play as a good guy or as a bad guy by offering moral choices in games that loudly reflect a broad ideology of “goodness” and “badness.” It has also led to a lot of discombobulated narratives, especially in regards to approaching games about saving the world while playing as a really ugly specimen of human being. Most players seem to opt to play for the “good” ending in games like Fable, inFamous, Dishonored, and the like and probably for good reason. I have written and spoken before about the frequent ludicrousness of the options often presented in these games that supposedly allow players to make complicated evaluations of moral dilemmas. I mean, if the choice is to save a child or to eat a baby, I am really going to struggle with the moral ambiguity of the circumstances, right?

Stumbling onto Witch Hunt over at NewGrounds felt like stumbling back into the arcade era. Though I felt the sense that I was playing something from that era almost immediately, it was initially difficult for me to put a finger on why.

Witch Hunt is at its core a tower defense game, a genre of video game that I associate with the last ten years or so, not the video games of the 1980s. Instead, I see the tower defense game as appearing with the arrival of Flash games and iOS as a gaming platform. The tower defense game typically asks the player to be responsible for creating defenses against an encroaching horde of “creeps.” An army of creatures will advance to destroy a central base, and your job is to manage the battlefield by strategically placing towers of various sorts (some may fire quickly and do a bit of damage, some may fire slowly but cause a great deal of damage, some might simply slow the oncoming creeps, etc.) to stop them. Destroying creeps provides money that allows you to purchase more towers or to upgrade towers. Your business is as a field commander managing the economics of a battle.

You see that little car up there on the Monopoly board? Yeah, that’s me.

That car has always been me for as long as I can remember. I have played my fair share of games of Monopoly, and I honestly don’t believe that I have ever played the game as anything other than the car. All of which is kind of weird when you come to think about it, since Monopoly has so much more variety in its playing pieces than many other classic family board games. There’s a car, a thimble, an iron, a little dog, a man on horseback, etc. A much different quality than, say, merely picking from the traditional red, blue, yellow, and green pieces that usually all look the same in most other games. Wouldn’t it then be neat to play as something different once in awhile?

Well, obviously for me the answer is “no” because any time a box of Monopoly has been opened in my presence, I immediately either reach for the car or simply declare, “I’m the car.” Somehow the car has become my identity within the context of a game of Monopoly.

I performed an abortion to save the world. Actually, it was one of three abortions that I performed, two of which were performed on men. I also dodged my father’s scrotum while battling an underpants gnome. He, of course, (the gnome) was crushed by one of my mother’s big, swinging breasts. I climbed up a man’s rectum, farted on a man’s balls, and I also witnessed several anal probings by aliens.

What I am trying to say is that I recently have been playing the Mature rated game, South Park: The Stick of Truth.

During the first mission in the surreal cyberpunk comedy-adventure game Jazzpunk, the player may run across a frog who is trying to hack into a Starbuck’s internet service in order to use the company’s WiFi. This “side quest” initiates a mini-game that essentially resembles the arcade classic Frogger, as the player takes on the role of the frog attempting to reach his interface device by hopping skillfully through oncoming traffic.

However, unlike in Frogger, in which the player is given three lives to successfully traverse the screen from its bottom to its top, following the player’s first failed attempt, the game doesn’t load up the next froggy life for the player to continue trying to get to the other side of the screen. Instead, the game switches back to the frog in the Jazzpunk world who now wears a cast on one of its legs and who asks, “Again?,” before the player can make another attempt. What follows is frogs being squished over and over again in the Frogger clone with an interim screen following each “death” that shows the Jazzpunk frog suffering more and more injury. By the fourth or fifth failure, the frog is nearly in a full body cast and crutches, and he simply pleads with the player, “Please, no more!”

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