How Many Ways Did NBC’s Life Offend Gamers?
There’s a show on NBC called Life, which is–what most shows seem to be nowadays–a procedural cop drama. It’s about an “offbeat, complex” detective who was wrongly imprisoned and has returned to the force after being given a second chance. I bet he doesn’t even play by the rules. The point is, there was an episode of the show entitled “A Civil War,” in which the detective team investigates a hate crime, which turns out to be because of drug dealings. One of the drug dealers happened to hack into Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones in order to hide a paper trail of his drug dealings therein. The previous sentence is pretty ridiculous, but not more ridiculous than the actual scene it describes. There are a multitude of offensive and incorrect things plaguing the scene, showing that either no one related to the production of the episode had even the slightest clue when it came to video game (something NBC seems to do) anything, or the people who had a clue didn’t have enough power to get the point across. What’s wrong with the scene, you ask? Allow us to explain.
The following numbers are times throughout the video that each scene takes place:
0:11: “He plays his video game.” Generally, if we’re speaking of a gamer, he plays more than one video game. Even if he is largely an MMO player and most of his time is taken up by said one MMO.
0:12: Actor: “A game console is a like a computer, isn’t it?” Actress: “It’s not like one, it is one. It’s just a harddrive with games on it.” This episode was from 2007 and the game showed was released on the last generation of consoles, back when console hard drives were rarely used the way the actors are talking about, which is to house full games. Funnily enough, this misrepresentation of gaming is actually totally accurate now, only four years later.
0:29: “The object of this game is to save the Princess Farah.” While at one point, Farah does indeed get captured by the Vizier and the Prince does save her, that was never the sole object of the game. Toward the beginning of the game, when the plot is already established (general stop-the-bad-guy-and-save-the-kingdom kind of stuff), Farah actually saves the Prince a few times. They team up, beat some baddies, then eventually she gets captured and her rescue becomes more of an additional plot point than the object of the whole game.
0:33: “You think you can get to level ten?” There are no levels in Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, as the Prince travels through a linear, connected world.
0:34: “Detective, I’m thirty years old, I live with my mother, and I have a Captain Kirk costume in my closet.” While some gamers probably fit this description purely because of statistical probability, we gamers are not generally societal rejects. We’re generally normal people who play video games. I even go the gym four-to-six times a week and enjoy a professional sport!
0:52: “You win. Advance to Level 2.” Just like the point made at 0:33, the world is linear and connected, and this sort of message doesn’t pop up in the middle of the regular storyline.
0:59: “You have died. Play again?” This obviously isn’t the actual death message either.
1:10: The girl standing outside of the room, pretending she has the controller in her hand and is playing air video games. It’s not that there hasn’t been an instance of a gamer playing air video games while watching someone play the real one–I’ve actually kind of done this a few times while watching someone play FreQuency, but that’s because that’s a rhythm game, I was basically just playing air drums. Gamers don’t play air video games ([insert Kinect joke here]) when the game is played with a controller, a gamer would certainly have trouble air-pressing buttons in a fluid action game environment to begin with.
1:30: The man failing to beat the game is removed in place of the girl who was playing air video games. What about that whole rant about living with your mom? Where’s your Captain-Kirk-shirt-cred now?!
2:01: A split-screen of the girl playing the game, and the Prince falling off a beam and climbing back up, then jumping across a gap. The girl is furiously, repeatedly pressing a single button during this whole segment, when in actuality, it simply requires one button push to make the Prince climb back onto the beam from which he’s clinging, pushing forward on the analog stick to aim the Prince toward the ledge across the gap, then one more button push to jump.
Also 2:01: When the girl is playing air video games back at 1:10, the button presses are different from what she’s actually doing once she gets the controller in her hand for the 2:01 segment. So, you know, not an issue relating to video games, but an issue with common sense and continuity.
2:37: We’re accepting the storyline that the hacker hid secrets in Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, because competent hackers can kind of do what they want. However, there’s very little chance that said hacker could’ve fit Windows XP onto the kind of hard drive that would’ve existed inside a console back then (and as we mentioned about the segment at 0:12, didn’t really exist anyway), and there’s even less of a chance that the console would’ve had enough memory to load multiple spreadsheet windows over and over without some sort of freeze or slowdown while the actual game was running in the background. Granted, this whole segment takes place in Fictional 2007 Game Console Hackerland, so it’s possible that anything is possible there.
Bonus: They used the Papyrus font to display the fabricated in-game messages about levels that don’t even exist in the game, because Papyrus is more believable at representing a game set in Persia.
Listen, people who don’t know about video games who continue to use them in your media. Whether or not you are being given a big check by a game developer to include their game in your show, how hard can it be to use a tiny portion of that money to pay a freelance gamer to consult with for your project? Or, at the very least, how hard can it be to type g-o-o-g-l-e-.-c-o-m into a web browser and spend an hour or so researching? Actually, forget that last question. All of you media people can just hire me as your Game Consultant.