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Article - Duke Nukem in the Post 9-11 World

by Drazula on Sunday 19 March 2006

Will 3D Realms' new found sensitivity force them to shy away from these kind of events in the final game? With the insensitive and politically incorrect Pig Cop character, the "common" enemy in Duke 3D, fall victim to post 911 thinking? Will we see a kinder, gentler, less violent, more moral Duke Nukem?

Duke Nukem 3D broke the tried and true, safe, humorless mold of first person shooters, with outlandish behavior and cool one-liners. Duke tipped strippers, watched OJ's bronco ride and made fun of everything he came across. A major source of Duke's light-hearted laughs was poking fun at current events. That was 1996 and a lot has changed since those carefree days. The tragedy of September 11th 2001 has radically altered our society. It changed our politics, changed our lifestyles, and changed our view of the world. As a result, every aspect of our lives has been impacted, including our games.

The entertainment industry has taken a very conservative approach to anything that could be associated with 9-11. Our movies, TV shows, and novels no longer make jokes of bombed buildings or add gratuitous action of planes falling from the sky (like they did in "Lethal Weapon 3", "Fight Club" and "Die Hard 2"). Such situations are dealt with only on the most serious of levels now. Steven Speilberg openly stated that his latest film "War of the Worlds" was vastly different from what he would have created prior to 9-11. The film became a story about escaping the big cities most likely to be attacked. This is a clear reflection of our current society, with the aliens and their unstoppable weapons playing the roles of terrorists and their horrific attacks.

Our beloved games have taken a second hit because of 9-11. Like movies, certain events are off limits to humour. More importantly, 9-11 has raised our awareness of security. Not only protection of our nation but also our families, and more specifically our children. Nowadays, many parents and political agendas are looking closely at the violence and adult themes in video games. Grand Theft Auto has been the target of parents and politicians as a game too violent to be allowed to be sold to minors. We have become an oversensitive, highly stressed nation, that does not tolerate making light of violence or threats to our security.

Even before 9-11, 3D Realms learned a hard lesson about going too far. They took their wonderful Duke formula, threw in a parody of kung fu movies and created a mildly entertaining game called Shadow Warrior. Unfortunately, they caught a lot of flack as many in the Asian community found it offensive in its stereotypical and demeaning portrayal of oriental society. Today, 3D Realms is producing the game Prey, with its lead character being a Cherokee Indian. But his heritage will not be a source for humor or ridicule. They are taking great care to make him authentic in name and behavior. Scott Miller, head of 3D Realms once stated "Our games are anti-p.c. by design", but with Prey, the design it to entertain, not offend. You won't be seeing this Cherokee hero doing rain dances and saying "Howdy Paleface!". Clearly, 3D Realms has moved away from their anti-p.c. position.

Will Pig-Cops Fly?

The last time Duke Nukem Forever appeared was in a trailer released at E3 in May of 2001. The trailer dazzled everyone with its high octane action. The backstory, as told through the trailer, appeared to be a presidential hostage situation. Also in the trailer we got to witness a Casino building collapsing. Will 3D Realms' new found sensitivity force them to shy away from these kind of events in the final game? With the insensitive and politically incorrect Pig Cop character, the "common" enemy in Duke 3D, fall victim to post 911 thinking? Will we see a kinder, gentler, less violent, more moral Duke Nukem?

Don't bet on it. Expect Duke Nukem Forever to be loaded with all the laughter and mayhem expected from a Duke game. The fundamental difference between Duke Nukem and other characters is Duke's personality. His personality 'flaw' is that he is an ego maniac. He is not evil. He is not smart enough to be evil. This makes so much of what he does funny and light hearted. The Duke humor is diverse. His comments cross all boundaries. He does not focus on one specific incident or group, so no one can say they were singled out, as was the case with "Shadow Warrior". And while DNF may be a bit violent, Duke is trying to save the world, all by himself. This will be much more acceptable than the motivations in GTA.

So women's rights groups, politicians against game violence, gambler's anonymous and any other group with a chip on their shoulders should get in line. Duke Nukem is coming in all his glory. Gamers rejoice!