Wednesday, January 2, 2008

"New York Defender" - Video Game With a Lesson

We can learn so much from the French.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must state that I
  • Am an American
  • Never equated using French phrases in conversation as a sign of sophistication and culture
  • Do not regard France as the shining center around which all the civilized world revolves
  • See France as a country with a long and proud history, which is struggling with the idea that it, and Europe, are no longer the undisputed hub of the world
Now, on with this post.

"New York Defender" is an internet video game based loosely on the 9/11 attack on New York City. It reminds me of the old "Defender" video game: except this time a digitized New York City skyline is at the bottom of the screen, and instead of shooting incoming missiles, the player shoots incoming airliners.

As an action video game, it's got possibilities.

As a themed video game, it's as tasteless as the Paris fashions American designers aped in my early years. That's not just my opinion.

Matt Scheiner was on the 81st floor of Tower 1 on September 1, 2001. He made it down the stairway and out of the tower before if collapsed. "So, when the 27-year-old from Graniteville was told of an Internet videogame allowing players to shoot down airplanes as they fly toward the Twin Towers, he was disgusted and the old hurt surfaced again." ("Staten Island Real-Time News," "Staten Island 9/11 survivor disgusted by 'tasteless' Internet video game" (January 1, 2008))

"Tasteless" may not be the best way to describe "New York Defender." The game's French designer says "There are no ways to actually win. The winner becomes the last one to lose." (Tom Landrigan's "Video Games and Terrorism" for Professor Blackmon's English 304C class (Original document in Microsoft Word format.))

"New York Defender" has been around since at least 2002. A Denver Post article that year said that the French game designer gave no way to win the game. The game's reason d'etre is "to illustrate the ultimate impossibility of fighting terrorism -- a fight the Unites States is still waging in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere throughout the world." ("Staten Island Advance," "Web game inflames the pain of Sept. 11" (January 2, 2008)) ("Unites States" exists in original.)

Ah, mais oui! Such relevance!

Maybe it's because I'm a rude, crude American, utterly incapable of comprehending the multifarious aspects of the contemporary world's socio-political community, but I don't think that the war on terror is hopeless. At least, not as long as there is an alternative to French wisdom and sophistication.

I'm assuming that, based on
  • History
  • America's attraction for bright, innovative, and determined people from around the world
  • America's ability to form global coalitions without French approval
...the War on Terror will be won: by the people who don't sentence rape victims to 200 lashes, plus jail time. And, that America will lead the winning side, saving France from disaster. Again.


Anonymous said...

OK, a French company designed a stupid video game (most video games are violent and stupid anyway).

But you report that as if it was done under French government authority with the approval of the whole French people....

Let's not forget that the French government was the FIRST to pay tribute to the 9/11 victims on ground zero and the FIRST to propose military assistance in Afghanistan.... But as we all now they have been the smartest by refusing to support this Iraq mess (this probably explained your hatred of the French).

So, please, do not forget as well that there are stupid people in America as well, nobody forgot the most outrageous insult done to the 9/11 victims by Ann Coulter qualifying some of the widows in NJ as ....bitches.

So, please, next time you post an article about a stupid French individual, or a German one, or an Ethiopian anybody else, be smarter and don't fall in the trap of generalisation. As an american, for sure you would lose at this game!

Brian H. Gill said...


I'm not sure how I should characterize a video game made in France, other than "French." The English language doesn't have distinct terms for "French [government]" and "French [person or entity]."

As for the video game, I wouldn't call it stupid. In fact, I think it has the potential to be as lastingly popular as the venerable "Defender."

I certainly do not hate France or the French people, nor do I regard them as stupid. Far from it.

I do believe that France and the French have done a great deal to earn their reputation for arrogance and condescension. Even if, for example, they have stopped their habit of pretending to know no language other than French, when addressed by a foreigner, it will take a generation or two to erase the impression of lofty rudeness.

In a way, it's not so much France and the French that bother me, as wannabe cultured Americans and their fawning devotion to all things French, more common in 19th century America than today.

As for the real assistance that France has given America over the last few centuries, including the 21st, I appreciate it.

"But as we all now they have been the smartest by refusing to support this Iraq mess (this probably explained your hatred of the French)."

First, I believe that you meant to write: "But as we all know they have been the smartest ...."

As to that, again: I do not hate the French. On the other hand, I do believe that the French approach to dealing with dangerous situations is not infallable. And, I do not equate lack of support by the French government as an indication that a policy or program is either flawed or doomed.

As for Iraq, I'm not convinced that it was wrong to replace a dictator and his ethically-challenged sons with a struggling group of Iraqi leaders who now have a fighting chance to make something of their country.

Anonymous said...

"Even if, for example, they have stopped their habit of pretending to know no language other than French, when addressed by a foreigner, it will take a generation or two to erase the impression of lofty rudeness."

I see, we have the revenge of the poor little american tourist who was "mistreated" by a parisian bread saler who dared to not reply in english.

C'est si pathetique !

Brian H. Gill said...

Bobby, Thanks for coming back to this. I think a clarification is in order. I have never been farther east than Massachusetts, and have never been a poor little american tourist.

The French habit of pretending not to understand languages except French was a well-established basis for jokes in my day: much as the parochial attitude of many Americans was the basis for gags like, "what I don't like about traveling in Europe is that you meet so many foreigners."

A typical American-French joke would involve the American asking a question of a Frenchman, and getting no response, or a phrase in French which, by its tone, was clearly deprecatory. The American would assume, reasonably, that the Frenchman understood no English. The punch line was the American discovering that the Frenchman had understood exactly what was said.

I'd come up with an example, but it's been decades since I heard one, and some of them are not the sort of thing I want to write in a public forum.

Finally, I don't approve of over-generalizations, and will take more care to read my posts before publishing them.

However, I still like ethnic/national jokes: that are in good taste.

That may be because as an Irish-Scots-Norwegian-American, I've got a lot of material to work with. Even more, now that I'm married to a German-Dutch-American. The family hasn't gotten up to Tiger Woods standards, but give us a few more generations-

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.