Like most people, I studiously read every webpage I see, knowing that if a person – a craftsman – spent time assembling it, that it must be worth reading. All content must be respected uniformly, lest we descend into… something. Something downhill, I guess. Anarchy? Shark week? It’s hard to say, my brain hasn’t worked too well since I read every word of a Neopets wiki last month.
Anyways, the other day while diligently examining content I came across some “Sponsored Content.” I’m not about to get on one of my higher horses about that because I’ve actually written some sponsored content in my day. These high horses don’t pay for themselves. But even if all content must and should be treated equally, there is still perhaps room for a “worst amongst equals,” and I was now looking at that. If you haven’t seen this precise piece of content, you’ve seen something like it, I’m sure located beside a secret that will make your dermatologist hate you, or an examination of wardrobe malfunctions suffered by lesser known Belarussian athletes, try not to gasp when you see #6, it contains the haunting echo of a nipple, too late, you’re gasping, you’re gasping, you gasped.
Anyways, I’m talking this up too much. Here’s the thing:
What a stallion of a woman. This is a pretty large amount of ass to have hanging out of, what I want to make clear is a very respectable website. Like I was not in incognito mode or typing with my shirt off or anything. Just a regular news site, which due to the terribleness of the economy, now finds itself forced to mix its genuine content with ads for what appears to be some kind of terrible game. Look at her. She’s aiming at something a good half mile away with a crossbow the size of a child’s arm. Hopeless.
But I mean, what am I going to do? Not click on a link which will install a parasitic Bitcoin mining app on my machine? Not play a game with no-pants crossbow warriors? I’m no hero.
The content must be respected. I clicked.
Oh damn, this is serious stuff. You’re not allowed to capitalize Nouns for no reason, I’ve had both common sense and editors tell me that. But it looked like I would be safe in this particular case, scoring a mild 1.5 out of 4 on their safety rubric. (+1 gaming addiction, 0.5 for aggressive gaming-related odors.) I clicked again.
My dream girl is a two way tie between 1) my wife, whom I love, and 2) a sexy librarian who acts and looks like me in all ways. Still. It’s a game. Escapism. As I was doing this to escape from my normal, highly seductive life, I had no use for a seducer. I had little immediate preference between a mage and warrior, but decided on the mage because I figured she’d look more like me.
Easy, solo, no-one must ever know my shame. Also, nice text centering in the buttons, idiots, respect your craft.
Tremendous! This game supports the most widely supported browser in the god damned world. I will admit to being genuinely relieved here seeing this would be a browser based game, because I was not at all kidding about my fears of installing a Bitcoin mining worm. I was already, what, five clicks into this bit, and any more commitment than that might have killed me.
I clicked again, landing on a sign up page. This was expected. It’s hard to do much on the Internet without signing up now. I filled in the pertinent details.
I was running out of patience. Several seconds earlier, I had set off on a voyage promising tremendously well-equipped artillery-women perched on the banks of a river. Would they accidentally get sopping wet? From the amount I was beginning to lift my shirt, it was clear what answer I was hoping for.
I clicked one more time.
Oh what absolute shenanigans is this? A download? Click To Install? NONSTANDARD UI WITH A BRIGHT GREEN CHECKMARK!? This sponsored content has been dishonest to me! Not a great start to our relationship, Fuck-Archers of Cryptoguard.
And now at last I could see what I was getting into. This is Raid: Shadow Legends, a freemium game I’d heard of by reputation, famous mainly for its terrible ads that prey on the horny, people with gambling addictions, and morons, and I’m way too deep into this sentence to stop now that I realize what that says about me. I quickly clicked install before I could learn more about myself.
Three separate download screens later…
…yeah, fuck you.
And I was in.
Yeah, this is not what was promised. This ice gentleman, whatever other qualities he might possess, having a glorious ass is not one of them. Spear-lad I’ll give a seven, but I’m expecting more from someone soon.
Oh, hi, yes, I think there’s been a mistake, I already chose my champion, “Mage” several clicks ago.
The game itself began, and it was, you know, ok. Which, honestly, was about one million times better than I’d been expecting, though still not the sturdily-reared arbalest simulator I was hoping for.
But no joke, that basically looks like a video game. Like if you showed this to your grandpa, he’d say it’s a videogame and then look at you pityingly, wondering where it all went wrong with our generation. Maybe it was a mistake to stop spraying pesticides over schools. Maybe it softened us up too much. “Grandpa?” you’d ask, but he’d just ease the brakes off his wheelchair and roll quietly backwards down a hill.
I’ve gotten off track a bit. Anyways, despite this thing’s general video-game “flavor,” if you’ve played games before, you’re probably seeing the same thing I am. This is a “free-to-play” game, a genre famous for involving none of those words whatsoever. Telltale signs include the thousand different energy meters and currencies and gems at the top, all of which can be quickly supplemented with the exchange of real money.
Or Canadian money, which is close.
In short, this has the look of a video game without really being one, like someone wearing a suit made of the skin of their victims. Where a video game uses all these buttons and characters to generate fun, this game generates bile and shame. I set into this hoping to play an ass game with my shirt off, and now I feel dirty.
Worse, the game isn’t even terrible! Like if it was shamelessly bad, it wouldn’t be worth the time to think about. But it’s not! There’s combat, and RPG elements, and cutscenes, and everything has credible voice over, and the female characters aren’t wearing very many clothes. It’s a proper video game. Someone has invested money in this. And then wrapped it in the game design equivalent of poisonous snakes.
It’s honestly the gaming version of the ad section on the website that led me here, another bullet point in the list of ways that media doesn’t work so good any more. You can’t just make an upskirt warrior game anymore without monetizing it within an inch of its life, sucking everything good out of it in the process.
I was sad now, yes more than before, and closed the game, then closed it again when it didn’t actually close, then closed it from my system tray. Awesome, thank you, Raid: Legends of DIstended Assholes.
And there I was, back where I started, at the basically legitimate news site and its swampy ad section. Back to my precious content. I examined the next link.
Well then. I guess I could… not click a link. I’d just closed a window without clicking all the links, I could possibly do it again. That sounds like a thing happy people do. I see them all the time, smiling and laughing in pictures on better web pages than this one. They seem like they don’t click on links to a scam filled worlds of massively-assed fisher-women.
But I’m no hero.