"That's it? That's what you didn't want me to see? You don't want me doing that? THAT was boring."
I'm telling you. If you don't want kids to have sex, let them see sex. Give them a tape of hard core Danish bestiality and lock them in a room. When they are done, they'll just want to take a shower to clean off the icky feeling. Or let them play Hot Coffee. They might still have sex. But you can be very, very sure it's not because of this game.
The Shell Game
So here we are, with E3 2006 a few months down the road, idling away the remaining days of the year of the box turtle. And it's probably worth noting at this point that turtles have been around since the time of the dinosaurs, in one form or another. It gives me some comfort to think games can keep creeping along the muddy banks of popular culture, dunking into their collective shells when trouble comes by.
Then again, outside the magical world of Mario, turtles haven't done much. Evolution doesn't seem to be their strong suit. They haven't changed much in a zillion years. They don't wear pants and haven't invented the George Foreman grill. That is, they just sort of stopped developing in any dramatic way. These days, most people don't even eat them. Or keep them as pets. We just sort of ignore turtles.
And that, more than anything else, is the warning of the year of the box turtle.
Last year, the Game Developer's Choice Award for best game, the award given by developers for developers, was handed out to Half-Life 2 over Katamari Damacy. I groaned. I don't make games and really didn't care how technically excellent HL2 was. It just seemed like a bigger, slower turtle to me. It was just a fatter, more massive, more monumental and just-as-doomed brontosaurus. Katamari's pink-nosed, furry mammal peered out from its hiding place as the giant lumbered on stage to collect a prize for being very much the same as other games. Then, it turned its furry, little tail and headed back into the safety of its burrow and wondered when the big, stupid lizards would just drop dead.
And that's it. As the year of the box turtle waddles out from under our feet, let's hope next year's gaming mascot holds a little more promise. For next year, maybe we'll get a lion, a silver backed gorilla, a falcon or a pit viper. Meanwhile, I'll just keep hoping for the year of the Sexy Cybernetic Extraterrestrial.
David Thomas is the founder of the International Game Journalists Association. He also provides commentary and criticism at buzzcut.com.