April 2011 Archives
Zangief Kid - The Game is a fairly sophisticated work of tabloid game flame-bait, reasonably well-integrated into Twitter and Facebook and sporting its own rankings board. Built in Unity, presumably because the subject demands a schlocky presentation in low-poly 3D, the game presents players with a short stretch of recycled school hallway and a horde of scrawny bullies to wade through. It's not an accurate spatial recreation of the outdoor area where the confrontation took place, and it ignores the important contextual detail of fellow students walking by to witness the event. It's side-scrolling brawler boilerplate.
And this certainly isn't the first time we've seen school violence captured in videogame form. As in the case of Super Columbine Massacre RPG's derivatives, we can't deny the "commentary" or satire that's at least nominally intended by its creators. And their right to creation is equally undeniable, even if, as Gonzalo Frasca has written before, we must always interrogate our decision to make a game about an event such as this one. It also makes sense to view Zangief Kid - The Game as a conceptual polar opposite of Jordan Magnuson's recent notgame Loneliness, which deals directly (if weakly) with the general social alienation that we can assume to be much more prominent in Casey's life than momentary episodes of bullying.
On a surface level, the game's procedural rhetoric is clearly stated on its title screen "warning" label: "You can only hit after you get hit. That's the bullying retribution rule." The Zangief Kid can only attack once his "health bar" is depleted by three punches from a bully, at which point the space bar will execute a signature pile-driver. When players reach an arbitrary end to the school hallway zone, they are lauded for "crush(ing) the bullies with a sense of vengeance." If this were the game's sole rhetorical move, as the game's creators seem to believe, then we could safely file this newsgame away as teaching us nothing new about the genre.