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Indie Nation #34: I'm O.K.

6:43 PM on 10.03.2008 // Anthony Burch

What with Jacky Thompson being disbarred and all, why not revisit the greatest JT-related indie game ever made?

I'm O.K., for those of you who don't remember, was created following Thompson's "modest video game proposal," in which he called upon the game companies of the world to make a game in which they, rather than cops or teachers, were the potential objects of violence and hatred.

Thompson offered to donate money to charity should the game ever be made. I'm O.K. was made. Jack Thompson didn't donate the money.

Even without considering the value of I'm O.K. as irrefutable proof of Jack Thompson's douchiness, it's a really goddamned fun game. It follows Thompson's design document to the letter (you can pee on brains), while including some awesome references to games and games culture at large.

Play it, or hit the jump for further musings on the game and the topic at large.

Did you try inputting the Konami code on the title screen? You should.


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I'm O.K. succeeds mainly on the strength of its concept. The gameplay is fun, but not so fun that you'd remember it in a less interesting game (you will rarely, if ever, have to jump). The violence is kind of cute, but spectacular gore does not a memorable game make. No, I'm O.K. is memorable mainly because of the story surrounding it, and how hilariously it replicates Jack Thompson's worldview within the confines of a 2D run-and-gun.

It's the Colbert Report of videogames: it pretends to take its subject matter totally seriously, while overexaggerating and satirizing the points and ideologies it pretends to espouse. It's not the most subtle game in the world (example: "Jack Offson"), but it takes great pleasure in following the specifics of Jack Thompson's design ideas and showing how goddamn silly they, and Jack himself, are.

Incidentally, this leads to some amusing and varied gameplay. You'll go from simplistic side-scrolling combat to a pee-on-brains minigame at the drop of a hat; you'll snipe retro gamers and lawyers at Best Buy for cash, which you can then spend on throwing machetes and shotgun shells. It's really just a bombastic piece of anti-Thompson satire, but it plays like a real game, and the joke is all the more effective for it.

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Additionally, there are quite a few jokes directed at the gaming community that Jack probably didn't include in his design doc (like, say, the aZn Phoenix character), but they're believable and really goddamn funny in their own way (like, again, the aZn Phoenix boss), so screw it. The developers themselves, who appear at the end of the game, admit that the whole thing is just for laughs -- laughs directed at a particular person, maybe, but laughs nonetheless.

I glossed over the fact that the game had attractive gore early on, but it bears repeating that this game is just plain pretty. The over-the-top death animations -- peoples' heads will explode after being hit with baseball bats, thrown machetes stick in their victims as they vomit blood -- help reinforce the kooky, satirical, Jack-Thompson-is-kind-of-a-douche attitude. I'm O.K. looks like a great Neo Geo or arcade game from the 90's, and it's simply a pleasure to look at.

Also, did I mention that you can input the Konami code on the title screen to unlock an easter egg? Because you can.

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I want to take a quote from Derek Yu's site about I'm O.K.: "Some Fan Named Ron" said, "You guys do realize that what you have created is probably going to go down in Internet history as being the best satirical work concerning video games since they first came about, right?," and I tend to agree with him.

Though I'm O.K.'s only real competition comes in the form of Super Columbine Massacre RPG! and V-Tech Rampage, and though it is neither as subtle as the former or as shocking as the latter, it's a much more consistent, honest game than either of those two. It includes no moments of horrendous self-contradiction, nor does it take advantage of a national crisis just for the sake of being provocative, and it doesn't even claim to be a particularly intelligent or meaningful take on the subject.  But there's something to respect in that: while Danny Ledonne is comparing himself to Shakespeare and Ryan Lambourn is making jokes about Virgina Tech "for the lulz factor," I'm O.K. keeps it simple and humble. Again, the message isn't terribly deep or subtle, but it makes its point pretty clearly and doesn't claim to be anything it isn't. 

Go play it, and think back to a simpler, more innocent time when Jack Thompson could still practice law.




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