Press rooms around the world are abuzz with righteous indignation, calls of mature, compassionate moderation, and transcendental wisdom that demands universal respect.
Duke, on the other hand, sits in his marbled mansion, chuckling in his jacuzzi as he sips champagne and plans the next adventurous foursome with those twins in the school uniforms, and the hot mechanic. He is, after all, Duke.
In one corner, stand rooms of slightly damp, definitely limp, socially conscious, morally unquestionable pillars of the gaming community, wondering about the relevance of games, wasting their lives away without ever once doing anything memorable. In the other corner sit Duke Nukem and Gearbox. They have the girls, the guns, the mansions, the monster trucks, more guns, the ugly topless aliens and the strippers. And the guns.
Now, before you even start to spew out another condamnation, ask yourselves: which one sounds more fun?
It is an endless source of bitter amusement that people would be taking Duke Nukem so seriously, completely misunderstanding the whole point of playing games and having fun.
The internet buzz about the much delayed Gearbox title has reached colossal, epic levels usually only reserved for genuine celebrity nipple slips and POW decapitations videos. Gamers have to be subjected to debates about whether Duke is relevant, about whether it’s politically and socially correct to have a game mode where the player gets to slap girls on the buttocks to get them going, and just whether the game will be any fun, so many years down the line.
Gearbox executives must be rolling and laughing in their chairs: this is the kind of publicity you cannot buy, or manufacture. By the time Duke comes out, and yes we’re hoping it is this year, there won’t be a single gamer on the planet who won’t want to try it and give it a run, to either enjoy or be appalled by it.
It’s going to be an epic mud-slinging fest, with the liberal, latte-sipping masses at one end denouncing the game, bothering those of us who want to just enjoy a good game, and a great character.
Because the secret ‘they’ don’t want you to think about – it might make you smart and then ‘they’ would be out of a job, since you won’t need to be told what to think anymore, is that great characters are never nice.
Starting from Hollywood, back in ancient times, starting from the very Rhett Butler that Clark Gable played in Gone With the Wind. Great character? Yes. Good guy? No. He’s a wartime privateer, often a drunk, and mean guy to his enemies.
Danny Ocean? A professional thief and a womanizer. Also one of the most charismatic characters of recent times. Frank Sinatra, who played Danny Ocean in the original movie? An equally hard living, drink and woman-loving character who also happened to be a real person and one of the absolute musical icons of our age.
Want to talk games? Bioshock’s Andrew Ryan: a bigot, a man with conspiracy theory-fuelled political ideas. A man who created an underwater paradise, and watched it crumble rather than give in to external forces he would not bow to. Not a nice man, but one of the most memorable characters ever created, in any game, book or movie. Would you kindly go play the game now, if you’re not familiar with his demise? Don’t bother with Bioshock 2, though.
Characters have to be larger than life. They have to be memorable. They have to have colossal flaws that make us love them and cherish their memories. Duke is balls-out immaturity. Duke is crude and vulgar. Duke is a man who knows no regret, and the only thing bigger than his ego is… there’s nothing bigger than his ego.
Duke is the guy who expresses every straight man’s sexual fantasies in the most obvious and annoying way, and loves doing it, and never wonders why he’s relevant. He lets impotent journalists wonder whether he’s relevant, because he’s too busy slapping strippers to get them along to the capture point to wonder about that.
The original Duke Nukem was not a particularly refined game. It was not technically superior to either Quake or even Doom II. It featured no actual storyline. It did have vehicles, jetpacks, shrink rays and memorable set pieces that you went back to play over and over again, just for the sake of living through epic moments again.
Duke Nukem is fun. If you walked up to him and asked him where he would place his adventures on the politically correct socio-economic landscape of today’s global village, he would not reply, because he is NOT REAL.
Criticizing Duke Nukem for being vulgar and immature is like criticizing Santa for being a bad role model to overweight children. It’s like wondering what kind of man dresses in a red suit and tiptoes around children’s bedrooms late at night when everyone’s asleep. Oh, it’s to give them candy… that makes it allright, does it?
Some things are best simply enjoyed. Not that the flood of mindless idiocy will end. Characters like Duke are there to remind people that there’s more than the rules we’re forced to live by every day. Danny, Rhett and Andrew are the same. Santa is the same. They will always have detractors and criticism.
Learn to ignore the noise around the simple signal: Duke is back, and there is no doubt that whatever he does in his next game will be colossal, be it a failure or an epic triumph, you can rest assured that he will do it hard, fast and with quips that will make the most hardened Christian nun crack a smile.
Hail to the Duke, baby.