My Life With the Thrill Kill Cult

Wyn puts computer-game violence to the test

7:15 p.m. The company's "director of publicity engineering," Doug, strolls by, and we get involved in a discussion of game violence. He tells me he's just been interviewed by ABC News about this very subject. He says the average player of their games is between 18 and 26 years old-a far cry from those vulnerable teenagers Lieberman is so worried about. He draws a distinction between video games-e.g., PlayStation-and computer games, which tend to appeal to an older audience, in part because they cost about $50 a pop. "The violence that's in our game is not in there for shock value," he says. "At least not entirely for shock value."

Doug pauses, staring at my computer monitor. "You can hit those Hare Krishnas for big points!" he advises enthusiastically.

7:40 p.m.Bob returns bearing food, and we adjourn to the kitchen, where we find an assortment of flavored rums sitting on the table. A note scrawled on a paper towel says, "Try us!"

8 p.m. I pour a shot of Nassau Royale liqueur ("The Island Spirit") into my Diet Coke can. Perhaps a booze-fueled rage will ensue.

8:05 p.m. We settle down to a session of Duke Nukem 3D. I blast my way into a movie theater, wasting evil aliens in combat fatigues as I go. Finally, some real bloodlust! The gore and body parts fly. The rum begins to work. I feel my shaken confidence returning.

8:25 p.m. I move on to Starcraft, a game of galactic domination. I log in as Bitch Kitty, and as an alien Zerg, I attempt to build a comfy home in which my larvae can grow and thrive. The game is initially completely nonviolent-less like a splatterfest and more like Sim Roach Motel. I just scurry my little insects around, mine minerals and gases, and evolve my workers. If this is socially unacceptable, so is the average Ford plant.

8:35 p.m. One of the programmers pauses on his way out the door. "Hey, do you know what happens to lawyers on Viagra?" he asks us.

"I don't know-what does happen to lawyers on Viagra?" I say dutifully.

"They get taller," he replies and grins maniacally, and then he leaves. I feel my first murderous impulse of the evening.

8:40 p.m. A horde of Marines invades my nest. My larvae explode in tiny showers of glop when hit, as do the human soldiers. But, hey-I'm just defending my home. I don't know of a single conservative who would disapprove of that.

9 p.m. Exhausted from our evening of carnage, we head home.

I am befuddled by Lieberman's selection of violent games. Of the four I played tonight, only one was in any way explicitly gory, one was kind of antisocial but pretty harmless, one emphasized sneaking around over killing, and one was a solid family-values kind of game, if family values can be extended to cover giant cockroaches.

I stop at a red light, and from behind me, a Suburban the size of a blue whale honks at me for not diving suicidally into oncoming traffic. This is the acid test. I ponder my options-yank a .45 out of the glove compartment and let fly? Shift into reverse and ram him?

Instead, I smile beatifically and give him the finger. "Hell with you, bub," I say.

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