It was only a matter of time before I took a stab at the console wars with a satire. The trick with the console wars is that it’s a bit like making fun of narcissism in Baby Boomers. The target audience inherently does not find the topic funny. Yet one of the quirkiest aspects of the console wars is how much only gamers care about it. In several surveys with Baby Boomers on video games, many did not even understand why there was a difference between consoles. Why can’t you just stick one game disc into any particular machine? It’s not like a DVD player? Which made me wonder about how to best explain the differences between the machines and their quirks. What would be the best satire of the 7th generation of consoles that a broad audience could follow? So…uh…I wrote down the script to an episode of ‘Golden Girls’ and replaced all the key words with video game terms.
DS knocks and Wii answers the door. DS is holding a little cartridge,
DS: Momma, I just got a new release and I need you to babysit Call of Duty 4 for me.
Wii: Call of Duty 4? I just hate that name. Why couldn’t you have named it something more musical?
DS: Sorry…Wii. Look, I know you don’t approve of the games I can play lately and that my touchscreen is all wrong.
Wii: No no, I just don’ see why you have to play it in public. You don’t see me making people wave their arms like idiots in public. A lot. I would love to spend some time with Call of Duty 4.
DS: You promised if I went digital you’d help me out and I really need this game!
Wii: Oh alright! Hand it here.
Various consoles are waiting in line while a Developer checks out their specs. The Wii steps up.
Developer: Sorry, but you’re just not what we’re looking for. We need higher specs and all that.
Wii: Oh please, I’ve waited to have this game on my console for so long. Surely we can make some kind of exception? Maybe a new version?
Developer: Keep waiting.
Older Gamer: Well, I think you’re great.
Wii: I was born for playing games. Some of my best games have been totally staged.
Older Gamer: What about this game you’re holding? Call of Duty 4? It must be a lot of fun to play it on the Wii.
Wii: Oh…well…yes. Yes, thank you. What was your name again?
PSone, PS3, and Xbox360 are sitting at the kitchen table having coffee.
PSone: Hi pussy cat, how was the internet?
PS3: Oh, I hate those kids. They may be our brightest but they’re also our rudest. Why are the hardcore ones always underage? Give me a good decent group of adult nerds anyday.
PSone: Pussy cat, when kids gave you hard time back at launch what did I tell you to say?
PS3: That Blu-Ray was the future of entertainment.
PSone: And if they still gave you a hard time what did you say?
PS3: If you hooked six of me together I could operate a nuclear missile. But Ma, this is different. I’ve always wanted to go online and now…the kids are making me feel stupid.
PSone: PS3, I’m gonna tell you something I never told you before. When you were about twelve days post-launch, they called me into the internet to tell me that you had the highest processor power of all the consoles.
Xbox 360: Oh, what a coincidence! I was told I had the highest burn-out rate of all the consoles.
PS3: Ma, I had no idea! The fastest processor of all the consoles? That certainly explains feeling right all the time.
Xbox360: I don’t know if you know this, but we eventually instated a recall policy.
PS3: I know, have fun at the repair shop Xbox360.
Xbox360: Oh, don’t worry, I’ll be back.
The girls, I mean consoles, are sitting around the living room working on various games.
Xbox360: Oh, PS3, what game are you playing?
PS3: Metal Gear Solid 4. Online. With 24 players.
Wii: Isn’t DS here with Call of Duty 4 yet?
PS3: No, she called and said she’d be a little late. You know, it really is touching to see you spending time with your handheld for once.
Wii: I have to. Older Gamer thinks I can run Call of Duty 4. What? Don’t look at me that way. He thought it. I just didn’t correct him. It’s not a lie, I’m just withholding the truth.
PS3: How could you do that?!
Wii: Because I’ve gotten to like him. If I go back now, he’ll think I’m a liar.
Xbox360: Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to tell a fib.
PS3: Walt Whitman here has a point.
PSone: What’s with this guy, he must be blind as a bat.
Wii: Oh there are ways to trick a gamer to think you can play a game that you really can’t. Show a lot of cutscenes, quicktime events…
Xbox360: Well, we’ve all done that.
Wii: Blurring effects, photoshop game footage. Change the specs.
PS3: We’ve all done that.
Wii: That’s Older Gamer. Listen, I’m warning you if anyone blows the whistle on me that old grey box is out on the street.
Older Gamer: Hi Wii! It’s so good to see you…and Call of Duty 4. You look amazing! Are you ready to give it a whirl?
Wii: Oh…well, why don’t we setup your Mii first, shall we?
The consoles are sitting around the kitchen table chatting.
PS3: Hi everyone.
PSone: What are you doing up? You’re supposed to help that supercomputer tomorrow.
PS3: Oh, I’m just too powerful for my own good. I feel as trapped and isolated as Søren Kierkegaard in his final days.
Xbox460: That’s such a funny name.
PS3: Oh Xbox. Dear, sweet, red-ring Xbox360.
Wii: Hello all. I just couldn’t sleep. Older Gamer keeps going on and on about FPS titles and he just could not wait for us to play Call of Duty 4. Frankly, I don’t know if I want to play it.
PS3: I understand. Just wait a couple of years. Maybe they’ll release a patch for it.
PSone: Why wait? Put a red plumber in it and your fanbase can make a petition for it.
Wii: Oh…it’s so unfair. I’m a perfectly good console but…Older Gamer can keep playing any old game he wants for the rest of his life. Me, I’m stuck with what I’ve got. I feel like the Spruce Goose. People may visit, play with the controls, but there’s nothing coming out for me this year.
DS is in the living room playing with Call of Duty 4. Wii walks in.
Wii: Oh, DS! Why are you still here?
DS: Just dropping off Call of Duty 4. She just got patched, so a lot of people will be playing it.
Wii: Oh, pass her to me.
DS: Mother, this is so unlike you!
Wii: DS, go home! You’re interrupting my game time.
DS: Mother, I just want to say how nice it has been seeing you spend quality time with a game on my system. You’ve been great. I love you Wii.
Wii: Wait. I’m not so perfect as you think I am. There’s something you oughta know.
Older Gamer: Hi! I hope I’m not too early.
Wii: You’re right on time. There’s something I want to tell you. I can’t play Call of Duty 4. I can’t even connect with my DS as a hub.
Older Gamer: I don’t believe this.
Wii: I should’ve told you sooner but when I first met you I was very attracted to you and I couldn’t believe you thought I could run that game. How could you think that?
Older Gamer: I thought, who am I to judge? I play Doom on my cell phone now.
Wii: Well, I guess this puts an end to our relationship. You probably don’t want to play on such a low spec system like mine.
Older Gamer: No, I’d play a Wii. I just don’t want to play a console I can’t trust to support third party games. Goodbye, Wii.
Wii: Well, that’s that. No use crying. Shall we play Call of Duty 4 now?
DS: Why? So you can pick some other gamer up? I thought you genuinely liked having third party non-compatible games around. But you were just using it to lure in gamers! Goodbye Mama. Thanks for babysitting, you won’t have to do it again.
PSOne and Xbox360 are putting chips and soda on the table, getting ready for a party.
Xbox360: Oh, I’m so glad you’re here PS3! You can hang out for our LAN party.
PS3: Oh, I won’t be staying. I’m going to a meeting for advanced A.I. processing. Because my processor is so powerful.
PSone: Hold on now. Not staying for a LAN party? Where’s your sense of family? Where’s your sense of tradition? The fans are what we’re all about, remember.
PS3: Ma, I just want to be around my intellectual peers.
PSone: I got bad news for you pussy cat, you are. I made up your processing power.
PS3: I’m not…the fastest processor of my console generation?
PSone: So I lied. Did it help you get along with those kids playing your system?
PS3: Yes but…Ma, you lied to me!
PSone: Reverse compatibility, Internet Access, Free content…I’ve been messing with your head for almost sixty years.
Xbox360: I guess you don’t feel like Soren Kieredybardon now.
PS3: That’s Søren Kierkegaard!
Xbox360: Hehehehe, I got her to say it again!
The consoles are all setting up for the party. Wii enters.
Wii: What’s going on?
PSone: Oh good, the trollop. Now we can start.
Wii: Throw rocks if you want. DS called. It wanted to know if it could come pick up Call of Duty 4’s box and manual. We just ended up arguing.
Xbox360: Look, DS is here! Oh PSone, see if she’ll stay for dinner.
DS: No, really, thank you. I just came by to pick up a few things.
Wii: There’s plenty of electric sockets.
DS: No, really.
Wii: I’ll go get the box and manual.
PSone: C’mon, it’s 6:30 let’s start this LAN party. Xbox, what did you add for your custom content to the game?
Xbox360: Well, I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but you’re able to kill Burt Reynolds in the 4th level!
PSone: PS3, you’re going to have to host.
PSone: You remember! It’s like you’re the most important person in the room but everything is your fault.
PS3: Ma, you’re making this up.
PSone: I’m adding to it. Once every year all the consoles got together and celebrated playing videogames. They laughed, they ate, they danced, it was a celebration of consoles and gamers. DS…don’t turn your back on your mother. Don’t let your game grow up without a grandmother.
Wii: Here’s the box and manual. Can I at least kiss her goodbye?
DS: We’re not going anywhere.
Wii: Oh….give me that game!
PSone: On with the feast!
PS3: Oh Ma, I may not have the fastest processor but I know what you mean about sticking together. This is about video games, not who can play what. Next year, I want to upload the unique content.
PSone: Deal pussy cat.
We all know how critical it is to keep independent voices alive and strong online. Please consider a donation to support our work as an independent publisher devoted to the arts and humanities. Your donation will help PopMatters stay viable through these changing and challenging times where advertising no longer covers our costs. We need your help to keep PopMatters publishing. Thank you.