Paul Ford's favorite video games

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John Holbo links to Paul Ford's My Three Favorite Games of 2004:
  • America's Army Special Ops: Abu Ghraib
  • Will Oldham's Adventure
  • Cat Ball Shaver

From his description of ASO: AG

You and your teammates are given a group of "detainees" that you must discipline. The thing that makes this game different is that the detainees can't fight back, and they're in chains or locked in cells. At first it was a little confusing, and I killed a lot of detainees expecting them to fight back, but I got used to it and found it to be a refreshingly different approach from most RPGs.

The choice of weapons is really interesting, too. You start out with a crate, a cattle prod, and a Bible, and by using them in different ways you get more weapons to use. For instance, after you beat a detainee with a Bible, you get pork and bananas, which you can either (spoiler alert) feed to the detainees or insert into their rectums, or both. But it's not as easy as it sounds! The detainees will eat the bananas, but they'll get really angry if they have to eat pork.

I'm sure they do!

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Definitely a worthy game. Seems also to have been a category-creator, and we're already seeing copycat variants from the UK, and even slightly-modified Guantanamo and Afghanistan versions. The publisher deserves special kudos for drafting women (pardon the pun!) into powerful roles in this game -- images of ritualistic degradation and sexual humiliation are something today's young women have a hard time finding in more traditional media, or even on the internet, and the US Army is filling the void with this title -- bigtime.

A word of caution to parents -- Phillip Morris seems to have paid for product placement in this game, so many of the "good guys" smoke. Overall, this is a minor annoyance in what was otherwise a creative and challenging diversion, almost guaranteed to provide years of profitable play.

Did you see the description of "Cat Ball Shaver"? Hard to believe it isn't a hoax. (Google can't find any other references...."


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