A look into the treatment drug-like substances are given in video games.
Drugs in games don’t work like their real-life counterparts. Often all they do is augment the player character, giving special powers or increased abilities. Often these substances are marketed as “power-ups”, however there is one mainstream series that doesn’t mask it’s intentions when it comes to using drugs.
The series Bioshock are revolutionary games, treating the player to unique and amazing locales, as well as a gripping mythos. The series never shied away from delicate issues, reveling in violence and bloodthirsty children, but it is the series portrayal of the drug ADAM that is perhaps the most controversial.
The wonder drug utilizes blank D.N.A to mold and create super powers and enhancements to the users body. Scattered throughout the sunken city of Rapture, ADAM is found in hypodermic syringes. These Hypo’s are graphically injected into the veins of your character’s forearm. This blunt, horrifically realistic portrayal of drug use is mysteriously offset by it’s lack of impact. Sure, your character gains the use of lightning, or can throw a fireball, but there is no indication of any sort of addiction as a result of these self injections.
This anomaly is made even more mysterious by the twisted inhabitants of Rapture known as Splicers. These residents were twisted and mutated by their extensive abuse of the drug. It’s overuse contributed to the downfall of the City, and yet your character seems completely immune to it’s addictive nature. All this does is tell the gamer while the drug will destroy other people’s lives, they needn’t worry about it themselves. This is a poor treatment regarding the addictive aspect of drugs in games. There is another game that deals with this subject in a more realistic manner. And that Game is Fallout 3.
Fallout 3: Chems
Drugs are a large part of the post apocalyptic wasteland. (For a review of Fallout 3, click here). In such a grim and hopeless setting, the inhabitants of the Capital Wasteland often turn to chems, meds, stimulants and drugs to escape. Your character is no different, and can utilize a variety of IV-like fluids as well as syringes and pills to augment both mind and body, as well as to flush his body of unwanted radiation and poisons.
Substances like the inhaler Jet and the pill Mentat are addictive, and repeated use over a short period of time will cause the player character to become hooked on the drug. Without then using the drug, the player will experience periods of disorientation and dizziness. Their overall ability will suffer and all their stats will drop. It is an effective way of portraying the negative aspect of substances. Alas, one drug is not treated the same way as the others. It also happens to be the most crucial one.
A stimpak is effectively post-apocalypse morphine. A hypodermic syringe which restores health to the player, This drug can be used infinitely with no negative effects. This is in complete contrast to the other substances in the game. While fixed in Fallout New Vegas, the decision to omit Stimpaks from the addictive substance list highlights the worlds regard of painkilling drugs against recreational drugs.
drugs have an unquestionable presence in video games. They come in a variety of shapes, forms and potency. They’re often mistreated and misused, but recent games have started treating them with the respect and fear they warrant. Every year, the video game industry improves and furthers itself to maturely deal with controversial topics such as these, and this fellow gamers, is a good thing.
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