The development of Duke Nukem Forever was, for a long time, a bit of an industry joke. Thirteen years have passed since the game’s initial launch date of mid-1998.
Entire console generations have been and gone, development studios risen and fallen (including 3D Realms, the creator of Duke Nukem 3D and the studio that was initially tasked with Forever’s production) and the gaming industry is in a very different state to that of the late nineties.
Riding high on the coat tales of 1996’s Duke Nukem 3D– a seminal PC shooter – the gaming community went wild as the first explosive trailer appeared at 1998’s E3. Through all the belated release dates, the slipped deadlines, and long periods of radio silence on the matter, you could have forgiven a once enthusiastic, primarily PC-based gaming audience if they had lost interest.
In fact, quite the opposite happened. If anything the title seems to be much hotter property now than it ever was – not least of which because console gamers were invited to the party in the latest round of development upheavals. The game went straight in at the number one spot in the UK after its launch last Friday – with the bulk of sales down to the Xbox 360 format.
Over the years, the game has probably attracted more hype and column inches than any other in history – and now Gearbox has finally brought it over the finish line, it’s not hugely surprising the game made a big splash with gamers – despite getting mixed reviews.
Considering violence, nudity, vulgarity, and general un-PCness are all self-confessed themes, what is surprising is that Duke Nukem Forever hasn’t sparked the ever-about-to-boil-over fury of the tabloid/mainstream press.
There are certain elements of the media – often spearheaded by the Daily Mail – that seem to be willing to exploit almost any angle they can in order to paint video games as some nefarious blight of society – amoral, corrupting, un-politically correct – take your pick.
The usual argument for games getting flack, over say violent films, is the concept of interactivity.
That’s certainly high on the agenda in DNF. According to the game’s own blurb, players can: “shoot hoops, lift weights, read adult magazines, draw crude messages on whiteboards or ogle the many hot women that occupy Duke’s life – that is if you can pull yourself away from destroying alien invaders.”
Christoph Hartmann, president at publisher 2K, recently said: “We’re committed to delivering a laugh-out-loud, politically incorrect experience that people will talk about for years to come.”
Considering that the comparatively tame puzzle game Portal 2 was attacked recently for being ‘insensitive’, I for one was expecting the same tiresome hysteria from certain elements of the press to flair up over this release. But so far, nada.
Possibly the tabloid media are reserving their campaigns for more ‘realistic’ titles such as Call of Duty.
Or maybe it was all too much for them. Maybe their minds have simply been blown by the sheer wealth of non-PC sentiment, nudity and violence, and seething hacks across the country are staring numbly at computer screens, not sure where to begin being outraged.