Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Death, Murder, and Mayhem 3.0

A few years ago, there was an outcry over the violence in computer games. A ratings system was instituted so that Moms like me could make sure we didn’t end up with Death, Murder, and Mayhem 3.0.

Of course, there’s always a way around the system. Even the most “peaceful” games seem to have been programmed by bloodthirsty 17 year olds in the bodies of 30 year old computer programmers.

For example, take Zoo Tycoon. The goal is to create a zoo: house, feed, and care for the animals and keep the tourists happy. If you don’t buy enough trashcans, the zoo becomes filthy. Or if you don’t hire enough zookeepers the animals become sick.

What the game doesn’t tell you is that if you put lions in the zebra/antelope enclosure, nature takes its course. The lions maul and eat every zebra or antelope available. Thankfully, it’s G-rated. Instead of blood there’s a puff of dirt signaling the kill, a few stars thrown into the air and the zebra disappears.

Another game “problem” occurs when an enclosure isn’t tall enough/strong enough to hold a particular animal, the animal escapes. The ever vigilant zookeepers immediately appear, box the animal, and the tourists are safe. BUT, if the player removes a fence or concrete wall, the animals rampage unchecked. Apparently, the zookeepers go on an extended coffee-break.

Without interference, the lions and Bengal tigers stalk and attack the tourists. They grab them by their necks and fling them about like rag dolls. Ariel said, “Look, Mom, it’s just like Jez and her baby.” (see Moloch fiend) The lions and tigers will toss the hapless humans into the air and catch them. And this is a “rated E for everyone game”. I asked Ariel, who’s giddy with fever, how she found out about the great feature. She said, “In the game’s tutorial, they make you remove a section of the lions’ enclosure wall so you can see what happens.” What did I say, 17 year old boys masquerading as 30 year old computer programmers. Even Zoo Tycoon has become Death, Murder, and Mayhem 3.0.


  1. The way you write it makes it sound like Ariel sought you out and excitedly told you about all these neat things happening on her computer and dragged you over to take a look. My experience with mothers and computers suggests this isn't the truth, however.

  2. Um, actually, the zookeepers will box the loose animals, even if you deleted the fence piece.

    I paused the game and deleted nearly half the fence pieces in every exhibit, and then resumed the game, so that the zookeepers would have a bit of trouble boxing all the animals in time.

    However, if you really want to give the Lions, or Bengal Tigers as in my zoo, free reign, you can just fire all your zookeepers and then delete fence peices.

  3. If you think Zoo Tycoon is bad, you should see some of the games I've seen people play.

  4. The ESRB are the people who developed the Game Rating System. They are also the people who rate every game that is professionally published. However, sometimes certain features go unnoticed by the ESRB, whereupon death, murder, and mayhem occur. Heh heh.

  5. Yeah, Ariel excitedly called me over to see the lions and Bengal tigers tossing people into the air--she knew I'd say, "Cool," which I did.