Xtreme Beach Respect

January 27thth, 2004, by Matt
Several people wrote in to express their dissatisfaction with my Promethean gift of art to the videogame industry, saying that the problem isn't that games aren't art, it's that games are just too new to get the same respect that the more entrenched mediums of film, television, and music receive. Given time, these concerned readers say, games will become the respect-getting equivalent of The Bridge on the River Kwai, or The West Wing, or The Morning Chuckle Ride with Gus T. Winds and the A.M. (Actin' Mental) Squad, with Guaranteed Commercial-Free Rock Blocks. I was a bit concerned. Respect was forthcoming, it seemed. But when? I had to find ways to speed up the process.

Coincidentally, Sunday night I saw a commercial for an upcoming film that would eventually lead me to all the answers. It's called You Got Served, which is brilliant because it leaves space to escalate the intensity in sequels, i.e. You Got a Court Date, You Got a Judgment, You Got Your Wages Garnished, etc. However, the movie is not about civil suits and the bastard bloodsuckers who lay them on you even though they knew you had bad credit beforehand; rather, it's devoted almost entirely to respect, and how it may be gained via dance-industry-unsanctioned street dancing. I became certain that the videogame industry could use some of the kind of respect that the commercial claimed nimbleness and a street-smart positive attitude could bring. I was also a little bit drunk from the Mad Dog 20/20 bought with the $3.66 received from last week's 0.98% click-through rate on the Google Ads. So Monday morning, I looked up the movie's official website.

Again, I was a bit concerned. I saw the word respect a lot, but couldn't make a connection. There was no transcendent theme that could apply to videogames. I even started to think that maybe there was no help to be found. There was a brief glimmer of hope when I saw this:

Surely a celebrity who had to plumb the depths of a character who not only demands respect but also gives it could provide some ideas. But as of this writing, Steve Harvey was unavailable for comment; TMOL can only assume he was doing whatever he does to give his skin that creepy, plastic-like uniform tone. It's probably done via the same machinery that sculpts his flattop hairstyle within German automobile engineering tolerances, a hairstyle you can't see in the picture because his character is wearing his respect hat.

It's then that I noticed that the You Got Served official website provided videogames of its own. "Respect and videogames, together at last," I thought. I selected Dance Competition, and behold:

The first thing you might notice is that this game features Finnish game developer Remedy's contribution to the world, Max Payne. At today's important and serious street dance competition, Max is wearing a sleeveless t-shirt decorated with a big, fat, proletariat-bamboozling communist red star. You may also notice that Max appears to be doing a backwards shootdodge, a trademark "bullet time" maneuver available to him in his games. If you did not notice either of these things, then you probably haven't played Max Payne or its sequel, and you should be grateful. You'd rather play Dragon's Lair, trust me. Sure, they're all really short games with repeated sequences that unavoidably kill you again and again to pad out the length, but at least in Dragon's Lair you only have to push buttons every few seconds instead of the entire game, and at least Dirk never says anything.

The mere presence of Max might be all that's apparent at first glance to the average gamer, but it's here where You Got Served finally taught me about how videogames specifically can get respect on the street, via clever visual metaphors. Note the grayish toothy guy crouching in the corner, perhaps a youthful alter ego of Steve Harvey, giving a very large thumbs-down. He's denouncing both bullet time as a game mechanic and Finland's post-WWII chumminess with communism that Max's shirt represents. Notice the crowd of three or four repainted models with blank expressions on their faces as they watch an exciting and illicit street dancing competition. They represent almost every 3D game ever released.

Success, simple as that! Thank you to the makers of You Got Served for leading the way in showing how the game industry can quickly get respect by stopping the distribution of both overwrought, commie-produced games that are built around gimmicks already beaten to death in movies and television, and games without facial animation. I am certain that once the industry overcomes these first obstacles, say, by next week, there will already be a great deal more of respect from the mainstream, at least equivalent to the amount received by the cast of You Got Served come time of its release this Friday. Until then, I'll be looking for even more ways for the industry to get respect; a friend has passed to me an Adam Sandler skit that on first listen appears to be very promising.

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