Reporting Luke McKinney
The Starcraft expansion “Heart of the Swarm” launches this week, and for millions of people it’s like an update to the laws of physics: a desperate scramble to learn to survive in the new world, and millions of things will explode.
Starcraft II is a multi-million dollar eSport. It’s the electronic equivalent of baseball, and involves almost as much athletic ability. Imagine the NFL releasing an update to the rules and selling two new kinds of ball players could use. Then stop imagining that in case they overhear, because they’d totally do it.
Starcraft is a globally connected military battle network with millions of willing human slaves. It’s not a computer program trying to take over humanity, it’s one that has already done so and decided it has enough. For now. And if you don’t believe it’s rewriting the human mind, behold this insanity.
For some players Starcraft isn’t just their favorite game, build orders and unit Damage Per Second have overwritten everything in their higher functions and then Zerg rushed their subconscious. Which is how you end up with alien videogame pornography. Which is more steps from actual sex than a lifetime of celibacy.
This is particularly prevalent with the new update, which focuses on fan-favorite character Sarah Kerrigan. She’s been wounded in combat, infested with the alien Zerg, and entirely rebuilt with Terran cyborg parts, and the game still hasn’t violated her as horrifically as those fans. When players reach the point that they’re still looking at the game when they take a break to jerk off, you’ve don’t just have a fanbase, you have the makings of a particularly scary cult.
The Romantic Pop Song
Of course sane people don’t leap into sex with fictional murderers. You have to romance them first.
Nerd Alert’s “SCV Love Song” is an ode of passion between a pair of military T-280 Space Construction Vehicles. Which means that it’s the first nice thing said about gay people in online gaming, because whatever gender those things are, this is a relationship between two of them.
It’s the world’s first paradox ballad, requiring romantic feelings and an advanced knowledge of Starcraft II tactics. It’s also absolutely hilarious, featuring possibly the prettiest man in any YouTube game parody video, and a brilliant nerd who decided “If I’m going to be in gaming threesome romance, by god I will do it dressed as Han Solo.”
Oh, and the third guy? Mr “I really did grow this goatee for a joke, and it’s a pretty good one”? He makes his living commentating on Starcraft matches and doing things like “playing on the beach” like this. Even basketball doesn’t support its commentators that hard.
Turning Starcraft into Risk is like setting fire to a thermonuclear reactor to send smoke signals: a terrible waste of advanced technology, and everyone involved will undergo a long and painful death. Risk only happens when you don’t have anything better to do. Making Risk that reminds people of Starcraft is like asking Stephen Hawking to write a book on the awesomeness of kung fu.
This isn’t a complaint about board games. Board games are great fun, but only because Risk brings the average down from brilliant fun. Risk was invented by an orphan to make everyone else wish they were like him. And by the time you actually finish a game, that’ll be the only type of Starcraft you’re qualified to play, because the game will have updated by then.
Hardcover Strategy Guide
Printed strategy guides are for people who want to give companies money for the game without the bother of actually playing it. It should be an impossible market. There are so many Starcraft strategy and discussion sites, this is only for people who want to be good at online gaming but don’t know that the internet exists.
This version extorts the afflicted with a hardcover version. Hardcover is the book equivalent of a “word processing fee,” where a book charges extra just because they can. A Starcraft strategy guide isn’t something you’ll display on your bookshelf – even if you your friends are into the game too, you’d hide it, the same way you’d hide a bottle of Viagra and a penis-extension machine. And it’s no way to improve at the game. In an online Starcraft game, slowing down to turn a page in a book is the equivalent of hand-carving new shoes in the middle of the 100 meter dash. Never mind how the game will be patched and rebalanced within the week. Meaning the only imaginary race this book works against against is Ents.
Cosplay can be cool. Anyone who says different is just jealous that they don’t like anything enough to dress up as it, including themselves.
Of course, it can also be the saddest thing you’ve ever seen in your life, and Jinx take that to the next level by creating a dress shirt that comes pre-saddened.
This is a military dress shirt never worn by anyone in the game, but they think it might be. The product description reads “Do you think Jim Raynor wears his marine armor when he takes a hot ghost out for a movie? No, dummy! He wears this slick new Terran Jacket.” When you’re fantasizing about the video game character going out and having dates instead of you, that’s why even the product description is calling you a moron. That’s how your sadness saves on laundry bills by giving up on the ability to have proper wet dreams.
The shirt is perfectly designed for maximum awkwardness. From a distance it looks like it might actually be a real shirt, only to lure someone close enough to ask about logos. At which point the wearer must admit “They’re not really from a game, but they’re what I think my favorite game character might someday wear.” That’s the small talk equivalent of mace.
You can now study Starcraft at the University of California. And it’s actually sort of awesome.
Many sites reported on it as the downfall of education. It’s the sort of thing writers love to scream about as why Asia taking all our jobs, which is insane, because that’s the only place there are any Starcraft jobs. But actually investigating the “Game Theory with Applications to Starcraft” course reveals that it’s not for credit, and is taught by unpaid grad students. In other words, some hardcore gamers worked out a way to find people who actually wanted to listen to them talk about gaming. And we live in a world where those people actually exist.
It’s fantastic. That’s a group of people so dedicated to academia their hobby is a combination of computers and management and is best discussed in a world-class university lecture theater. If our other favorite activities were that well supported, every Olympic event would be a kind of sex.
Enjoy more action-packed gaming with Four Fantastic Twin-Stick Shooters, because twin-stick is how you say I WILL NEVER STOP SHOOTING!
Or if you like reading about big games going insane, check out The Worst Resident Evil Movie Ever Made.