November 1998
s m u g
by Lauren Fielder

Gaming To The Beat Of Another Stupid Drummer

Movie stars and even book authors have long since catapulted their way into the PC and video gaming world, taking advantage of the fruitful harvest of an industry that grosses more than the film trade (No, it's true to the tune of about $16 billion last year. You see, game fans pay about $50 per ride, the movie industry's patrons pay about $8). So it's no surprise that musicians are now cashing in. After all, game developers are probably a hell of a lot easier to work with than record label execs - although I'm sure those lines are blurring, too.

To date, bands such as Underworld, Prodigy, Orbital, Sound Garden, Chemical Brothers, Future Sound of London, Crystal Method, and Photek, to name a few, have all contributed to video games. And years ago, Journey (yes, that's right, Journey) had its own Atari game for the 2600 as well as the arcade - this version included actual faces and was sort of like Tron. Iron Maiden almost had an aural cameo in a game called MELT that was going to come out on the PlayStation with their mascot Eddie as the main villain, but alas, it never came out.

Now, it's rumored that the Wu-Tang Clan is assisting Activision in an as of yet unannounced title, and Cypress Hill is joining up with game developers in a coming PC game called King Pin. As if that's not enough, White Zombie will fill your ears in the upcoming Twisted Metal 3 for the PlayStation. Poe even has a starring role as well as a soundtrack contribution in Activision's upcoming Apocalypse game.

But for all the consummation going on between bands and game developers, there are twice as many that should probably stay away. There are enough lousy games already, and MTV and VH-1 ain't gonna make things easier. This is not to say that bands shouldn't get involved; many musicians have brought a lot to the audio quality of certain games, like WipeOut XL and the Road Rash series. However just as with any form of entertainment, for every original or successful idea, there are 20 crappy ones waiting on deck. And as with any trend, when the bandwagon rides into town, the show is most definitely over.

I've done some musing, and because fantasies aren't always pretty, here are a few game industry/music industry chimeras that will hopefully never see the light of day. For your amusement only, of course.

Title: The Artist Formerly Known as Prince
Genre: Role Playing Game

This video game is a given. Basically, you play as Prince, or, the artist formerly known as Prince, which in this case, will be scripted as AFKAP, not to be confused with ASCAP. AFKAP will wander around a magical, 3D purple world searching for the ultimate power—that strong enough to reconstruct his career while managing to entertain his cohorts.

Along the way, he'll pick up other characters such as Apollonia, Vanity, Sheila E., Wendy, Lisa and various others. As in your standard RPG, you'll spend time building up the careers of your groupmates - sometimes at the expense of maintaining your own misguided career. Battles will include real-time conflicts with record labels, in which you'll use tactics such as painting "Slave" on your face to win.

This game will have hours, and hours, and hours of gameplay, with special codes to undress the characters and have them run around AFKAP naked.

Title: Fiona the Apple
Genre: Puzzle

Fiona the Apple will be an obvious Parappa the Rapper rip-off. The game will be a 2D puzzle/dance game, only in the comparative case, whereas Parappa was a drawn and animated as a 2D, flat character, Fiona Apple will actually be motion captured for the same effect.

90 percent of the gameplay will entail dressing in the right clothes in order to be able to effectively convey the proper, most sellable image. The other 10 percent of the gameplay will entail persuading your adoring fans not to look to you for cultural and ethical guidance, and to only look to you for satisfying their entertainment needs. The game will be notoriously difficult and challenging. However, rumor has it the marketing department of MTV will offer an exclusive strategy guide.

Title: Not too Skinny
Genre: Shooter

Not too Skinny will be Celine Dion inspired shooter, and the kind of game every mother will buy for her adolescent girls - and likewise the game that marketing types will no doubt make the poster child for "girl specific content" in games.

In this Megamania-inspired shooter, players will take the helm as Celine Dion, a pale, yet inexcusably beautiful and skinny princess who struggles with her diet, shooting pies and Pop-Tarts as they magical appear around each turn. The overall goal? Align yourself with Barbara Streisand (the boss character waiting at the end of the game for an exciting grand finale sing-off), save a sinking movie plot, and maintain your perfect princess weight.

Title: Jewel of Bohemia
Genre: Strategy

The point to this Jewel-inspired strategy game Jewel of Bohemia is to start off living out of a car, brimming with idealism and selling poems at local flea markets to working your way through the ranks of the music industry. Sound easy enough? Strategy games always do. The hitch here is that you must maintain your artistic integrity the entire time - even once you're successful.

Of course, this game introduces quite a struggle, but you'll have options, or rather hidden bonus levels that will allow you to release books of poetry and pick up other artistic skills to help restore your life bar. Rumor has it there will be no end to this game. You'll likely spawn a brood of books onto the unsuspecting public, but you'll still end up as just another fucking rock star.

Title: Puff the Magic Daddy
Genre: Puzzle

The goal of Puff the Magic Daddy will be simple yet addictive, like most puzzle games. The object is to fool the masses into believing you are talented, a visionary, in fact, by placing pretty, shiny objects in front of them, Tetris style. The complicated part of this game will be figuring out which baubles will attract the various members of your broad, easily amused, impressionable pop music audience.

This fantasy could clearly go on and on, as there is a seemingly bottomless pit of pop musicians who could potentially inspire games. But perhaps this little daydream might be best served hot. In which case I'll let you digest it before it gets cold.

in the junk drawer

and such
and such

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