Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It's Never Too Early to Teach Stereotypes!

Education is a good thing. Anyone will agree to that, except for maybe Lyndon LaRouche and his cult. But how do you get kids - and the reluctant adult - to learn. The answer, quite simply, is edutainment, the combination of education with entertaining elements. This has been done, and still is, in television. However, a new vehicle for edutainment nowadays is the video game. And this is a good thing. After all, kids like games, and they are certainly more interactive than television.

Now, you can use edutainment to teach all sorts of things, from basic math to quantum physics. There's almost no subject that can't be made into a game.

That thought is, apparently, what had gone through the head of a genius or two at Activision game studios when they decided to make this:

Ah, yes, Spanish for Everyone. What a noble goal. And it seems pretty practical, too. If you're planning on learning Spanish, it's probably a good supplement. Why then, is this blog-worthy?

Well, whoever actually made the game was either drunk, had some sort of agenda, or simply knew this game would not be popular, and so made it as outlandish as possible, whilst still maintaining an E rating.

Let's take a look at some clips, and remember, no matter how much you want to cry "Fake!", these are, I'm sorry to say, totally legit. (Oh, and I'd recommend turning down your speakers. The music in the game could turn the pope pagan.)

.............So, let's try to recap this. Shawn's obiously Chicano friend plays with his Nintendo DS before his obviously evil father picks him up kidnaps him. And even though there are police cars chasing after his friend's father, the only thing he can think about is his DS (the materialistic bastard that he is). So, then "Aunt" Gina Vasquez (they don't call her that for nothing!) offers to give him a ride, despite the fact that A) Her driver's seat is on the wrong side, B) she barely seems to know the kid, and C) she seems quite shady. Still, she can teach "many things." I would say that this is the end of Shawn's innocence, but the kid seems to be a troublemaker to begin with. Hell, he didn't even tell his parents that he was going to freakin' Mexico!

...Oh, and apparently cars fly in this world (as evidence by the fact that they continue to move straight when the road clearly curves down).

"A new adventure begins in the back of this truck." Good. Lord. Let's not even begin to discuss the implications of "Aunty" Gina dropping the kid off in TJ of all places and telling him that he'll be "teaching" her someday. Oh, and looky here, this just happens to be your grandfather's truck! What a coincidence! Oh, and the truck comes with a bull that not only talks, but speaks of Shawn fulfilling some sort of prophecy by coming, and using Spanish to "thwart evil."

You know, after seeing the first two, I thought that it may have just been a simple oversight by the creators, writers, developers...basically, everyone at Activision. However, there is no way in Hell that they couldn't know the implications of this one! No way! Aside from the cheesy dialogue, ("Men would never understand that bulls can talk." You have the following items:
-The kid was apparently dropped off in this seedy town by his grandfather. Thanks a lot, Gramps!
-The town's name is "La Zorra," which I've been told is Spanish slang for "Bitch."
-Shawn's "uncle" just happens to be in this town when he arrives.
-Tio Juan is an exporter to the United States. An exporter! There's no way that was an oversight. He even needs to discuss "financial arrangements."
-Tio Juan promises safety if Shawn gets in the jeep and they ride together. He promises...
-Jeeps are cool!

And so, the journey concludes. Apparently, Shawn's DS means that much to him, despite the fact that you could a new one off eBay for easily less than $100. And...what the hell is happening at the 45-seconds-left mark?! Is that like a raid or something? Well, it looks like Miguel's evil father's evil "exporting" empire is getting its evil comeuppance.

But is it really over? As you can see, Shawn was given a case of "puffy dolls" (seriously? Seriously?!) to deliver for good ol' Uncle Shady Juan. I'm sure in the next game, French for Everyone, we'll see Shawn continue his newfound life of crime, all while meeting more ambiguous relatives. Ah, good times......wait, wasn't he supposed to "thwart evil" with Spanish. I saw no evil-thwarting there. In fact, Shawn went over to the dark side!
Bull: "You were the chosen one! It was said that you would destroy the drug lords, not join them! You were to bring balance to Mexico, not leave it in darkness!"
Shawn: "I hate you!"
Bull: "You were my brother, Shawn. I loved you."

OK, so apparently, the people at Activision ain't great about keeping blatant stereotypes from their game. But what about another company, say...Ubisoft? As it turns out, Ubisoft (who we've seen in action before) is making their own Spanish-teaching game, entitled My Spanish Teacher. It has to be better, and not nearly as prejudiced, right?




iransofaraway said...

Oh man, those were great. WTF were they thinking?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, only if they could've thrown in Che, Bill Richardson, a maid and a janitor, it would be complete.

BTW, "zorra", while I guess in less formal terms could mean bitch, actually means a female fox. Although, if you carry it out to the next logical step, I guess the old character Zorro had a hard time if it did mean "the bitch." Hell, I wonder how Anotino Banderas would keep a straight face.

-Comrade Chavez