Duke Nukem has been a hot topic among gamers these past couple weeks, so I thought I’d take write up a brief piece giving my two cents on the subject. As you probably know, a lot of people don’t like this game for some reason. Well, I do like it. A lot, actually. Now don’t confuse my intentions here — I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind about the game. I’m merely going to state my personal opinions about the game and Duke’s relevance in today’s industry landscape.
Some if the biggest complaints I’ve heard about the game are that it’s not funny, it’s offensive to women, it’s dated and irrelevant satire, and so on. If you don’t find it funny, that’s a matter of personal taste and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, I do feel the need to point out that Duke Nukem is not a satire of anything. It’s easy to draw connections between Duke Nukem and 80s action heroes, and while that may be where a large part of the inspiration came from, Duke is not satire. Duke isn’t poking fun at 80s action stars — he is one, and he’s been taken to 11. That being said, if you think Duke Nukem is offensive to women, all I can tell you is to learn to take a joke. The sexist humor in Duke Nukem is just that: humor. No different than any of the offensive humor you watch and probably laugh it in Family Guy or South Park, or see when you play Grand Theft Auto.
I’ve also heard people say that Duke Nukem has no place in today’s industry, and that’s the part I really take issue with. It is my humble opinion that some gamers and gaming journalists have gotten a bit pretentious in this day and age. In a time when video games are debated as an art form, and games like BioShock and Red Dead Redemption are hailed as masterpieces for their masterful storytelling and perspectives on the human condition, we have somehow convinced ourselves that we are the epitome of culture and class. There’s nothing wrong with having a high opinion of our industry, but when you think certain kinds of games are beneath us, you have a problem.
Everyone who knows me knows I will side with the argument that video games are an art form, but I believe that games are first and foremost about fun. Red Dead Redemption is fun, and so is Duke Nukem. Just becames games have evolved as a medium to the point where we are able to craft mature experiences that have the ability to touch our emotions, doesn’t mean we don’t have room to be immature once in awhile. Duke Nukem Forever is a welcome break from the usual.
The purpose of playing video games is to have fun, whether that fun comes from the deep and emotionally impactful story of honor, sacrifice, and family values in Red Dead Redemption, or the immature antics of Duke Nukem as he kicks alien ass and chews bubble gum on his crusade to rescue Earth’s chicks. Anyone who says Duke Nukem has no place in today’s industry obviously doesn’t know what this industry is about.