February 20, 2009

Domestic City, Part One

When Emily was sixteen, she disturbed her parents by dying her hair in red streaks and having her lip pierced. Her mother and father worried about what rebellious moves their daughter might make next -- teen pregnancy? identity theft? tax evasion? -- and about how to set her straight. They had seen on a MSNBC segment that teens her age could relate to popular media like Twilight, the Jonas Brothers, and video games better than to their parents, and so they decided to make her play an instructional video game in the hope it would teach her about propriety and virtue.

The game they had bought for her was a first person shooter that related a cautionary tale about teens giving into peer pressure. It was called Resistance: Fall of Morality, and it was about aliens who invade the planet because of a teenage girl who smoked pot and lost her virginity to a skateboarder.

Emily had never cared about video games, but as she idled with the controller in her hands and skipped through preachy cutscenes demeaning her value system, she realised she liked the feel of the guns. Tuning out the didacticism, she ran her avatar through virtual alleys and bombed-out office buildings, equipped with the rail rifle and shooting the heads off of grunts and nailing shock troopers to the walls by their dicks. For a video game, she considered, this was a lot of fun.