U.N. Squadron

January 18, 1919: The Paris Peace Conference opens.

June 28, 1919: The Treaty of Versailles is signed.  The world is at peace once more.

January 21, 1920: The Conference comes to an end with the inaugural General Assembly of the League of Nations.

September 18, 1931: The Imperial Japanese Army begins its invasion of Manchuria.  The League of Nations says:

"Hey, don't do that!"

January 30, 1933: Adolf Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany.

March 16, 1935: Hitler reintroduces conscription to Germany, openly flouting the military restrictions of the Versailles Treaty.  The League of Nations says:

"Hey, don't do that!"

March 27, 1933: The Empire of Japan withdraws from the League of Nations.

September 19, 1933: Germany withdraws from the League of Nations.

October 3, 1935: Italian armed forces invade Ethiopia.

October 7, 1935: The League of Nations says:

"Hey, don't do that!"

July 7, 1937: Japan begins a full scale invasion of China.  As a final measure, the League offers only its “spiritual support” to the Chinese.

December 11, 1937: Italy withdraws from the League of Nations.

September 1, 1939: Germany invades Poland.  The League of Nations says:



World War II begins.  The League fails its primary directive: to avoid any future world war.

October 24, 1945: The United Nations officially comes into existence.


March 20, 2003: The United States of America begin their invasion of Iraq.

The United Nations clears its throat, about to say:


America pushes past, hollering:

Meanwhile: UN Headquarters, Turtle Bay, Manhattan...

Kofi Annan gazes grimly over the surface of the East River.  His left eyebrow twitches.  The capillaries in his eyeballs burst like test tubes overheated.  His lips quiver, not out of fear, but in a fit of holy rage.  His fingers clench to make a fist, as he brings it down hard upon his desk.  Kofi Annan says:

"Let's rock."

Enter the UN Squadron:

Justice is served, bitches.

Troy Aikman NFL Football

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

Words cannot express the alienation I feel when I play an NFL game. So I thought I’d make a Jason Rohrer game about it. I call it “Troy”:



TNN Bass Tournament of Champions

Sadly not the precursor to Guitar Hero.

Fish are boring. The pursuit of fish is boring, and often, futile. So what brainiac thought it’d be a good idea to faithfully replicate this experience and put it in a videogame? TNN Bass Tournament of Champions consists of taking your boat out onto the water, picking out a spot, watching, waiting, and catching nothing. It is terrifyingly realistic.


I would be curious to know the statistics surrounding fishing-related deaths each year – just how many people fall asleep, capsize, and drown when participating in this “sport”? How many people are literally bored to death? Fortunately this game is not portable; it’s 16-Bit Lemsip:


If you played this while driving a wheat thresher you would not come out the other side. Well, you would, but…


What kills me most is the central conceit behind the two most boring games on the planet: golf, and fishing.  Both are so-called “gentlemen’s sports” – constructs devised by bored husbands to escape from their wives and families.  Which brings me to my threefold scariest question of all:

  1. What sort of terrifyingly boring family would drive a man to do this?
  2. What sort of terrifying boredom would drive a man to make a game about it?
  3. And what sort of terrifying boredom would it take to drive a man to play that game?

The Tick


The Tick sucks, which is only appropriate for a videogame based on a sucky cartoon based on a sucky comic book character named after a bloodsucking parasite.

This irritates me perhaps a little more than it should, because The Tick is a parody of the superhero genre. I think parodies have a responsibility to at least be good if they’re going to be at someone/something else’s expense.  The fact that the videogame is a carbon copy of every terrible Spider-Man game is almost vindicating.  Almost.

The whole thing reeks of mid-90s Jim Carrey-ism.  I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to retrospectively put a bullet in my own 10-year-old head until I just coined that sentence.

The Terminator

In what may have been a feat of 9D chess, Alanis Morissette’s hit song “Ironic” became supremely ironic by famously failing to describe ironic situations in its lyrics. But I would give the coveted red ribbon to Governor Arnold “The Governator” Schwarzenegger for the case of The State of California versus the Entertainment Merchants Association, which singles out “really violent videogames” (over, say, really violent action films) as having a particularly bad influence on youths under the age of eighteen. This has given rise to some truly outstanding headlines like “2010: Judgement Day”, “Fighting the Terminator on Videogames”, along with my personal favourite:

(Not an actual headline.)

Well, in The Terminator for the SNES, you get to fight the Terminator in videogames. Unfortunately, the gameplay is nowhere near as delicious as the irony. In fact, it is quite bitter. But enough about that – I’ve always found that the longer you talk about what’s ironic and what’s not, the greater your chances of stuffing it up and looking like a complete moron. Oh, okay, just one more from Wikipedia:

The studio had suggested O. J. Simpson for the role of the Terminator, but [James] Cameron did not feel that Simpson would be believable as a killer.


The player assumes the role of Kyle Reese, a Human Resistance fighter sent back in time by John Connor to protect his mother Sarah Connor from a cyborg assassin known as the Terminator, thus ensuring his (and humanity’s) survival. There’s something very oedipal about the way it all pans out, though, and it’ll do your head in if you let it. See, Kyle guards Sarah’s body a little *too* well – like, with his penis – and impregnates her, thus ensuring John Connor’s conception. How does one send one’s own father back in time to impregnate one’s mother and conceive one’s self? How can a sperm and the genetic by-product of said sperm exist within the same timeline without creating a time paradox?

People forget that about sperm. Some people ask their mothers why they didn’t marry a king or a billionaire or an actor so that they could be a prince or rich or famous (as if they consciously spurned these hypothetical advances), but no – any other sperm on any other day means that you wouldn’t be you at all. And if you’re not you, you don’t exist. We’re blowing some serious minds here.

What’s mind-blowing is how bad this game actually is. A Terminator game should be pretty hard to stuff up, and yet here we are, entering 2011 without a single good Terminator game. If you think that’s slack, chew on this for a moment: we’re only 18 years away from the apocalyptic events of Terminator, and we don’t even have flying cars yet.

We’re running way behind schedule!!

If the entire game was like those sections in Metroid Fusion where Samus had to run and hide from her doppelganger, that would be marvellous. But we can’t all dwell on ‘what might have beens’ now, can we?

Super R-Type

Super R-Type: The Game doesn’t interest me in the slightest. It’s slower than other R-Types and yet somehow manages to be even more incredulous/relentless/S&M in its difficulty. What does interest me is the mythology that underpins it.

The ‘bad guys’ of the R-Type series are known as the Bydo Empire. I say [quote][/unquote] bad guys because it is us who created them. In the 26th Century. As sentient, ecology-destroying biological weapons. It’s just the kind of hubris you would expect from humanity – we’ve always been a little too big for our britches since we started playing with atoms. So, like a kid with a box of matches, we got burned – the Bydo turned on their human overlords after a botched attempt to annihilate a foreign solar system.

But the hubris doesn’t end there! The humans ‘solved’ the problem by making it someone else’s problem – they simply shifted the Bydo to another dimension. Eventually they made their own way to the 22nd Century, where humanity’s great-great-great-great[…] grandparents were left to clean up the mess. It’s refreshing to see Earth’s problems dropped in the laps of its elderly, in a time when so many are laid at the feet of its children – but do you know what would be more refreshing?  IF EVERYONE CLEANED UP THEIR OWN DAMN MESS. Or at least lay in the bed that they’ve made for themselves. Perhaps humanity deserves its grisly fate; perhaps we’re the villains and we need to be stopped.

Future-proofing the distant past.

So what started out as an innocent bit of backstory has actually developed into an intriguing fictional example of retrocausality. Talking about the future in past tense is hard.

Super Pinball: Behind the Mask

There was a time, long, long ago, when pinball machines and videogames stood together – a veritable Brotherhood of Coin Crunchers. Oh, how they danced and player together in that magical land; the magical land of Arcadia. But fate had other designs.

The humans were comfortable in their little homes, and it was only a matter of time before the consoles took over. The pinballs and Model 3s fought long into the night – one could say they gave no quarter – but it was all for nought. Naomi, the Queen of Arcadia, was seduced by the Dark Side. She gave up the Brotherhood’s secrets, porting her library to the consoles. Arcadia had fallen, and the pinballs were given in servitude to the consoles. Their bodies were destroyed in the Forge; their souls extracted as gems to power their golems. These hulking abominations were but shadows of their former glory.

Thus concludes my dark tale, the tale of Arcadia. But I’d like to think there’s another ending:

On occasion, you might find a pinball machine tucked away in the corner of a pool hall, or maybe a bowling alley, or a wealthy politician’s basement, like old trees in a sacred grove. They’re the ones that got away.