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I think the last truly terrible video game I bought was Gundam v. 2.0 for the PlayStation One. This was back before all you had to do was wait a few hours for reviews from gamers to start pouring in online, and I got suckered in by some touched-up stills from the game in a magazine that made it look awesome. Instead, the one and only redeemable element to the title was it had a cool sound effect for the beam rifle, but that hardly made it worth the $75 it had cost me.

I’ve played subpar games since then, but Gundam v. 2.0 retains a special place of hatred in my gaming soul. It’s the sort of game that drives one to violent fantasies of revenge. Like an evil witch being punished for her sins, or a stubbornly regenerating troll that won’t stay dead, the only just way for Gundam 2.0 to pay for its crimes is by being set on fire.

Somewhere in a box, I still have my copy of the game. Maybe if I dig it out, these police officers in China will let me toss it onto their video game bonfire.

Actually, this computer-fed conflagration isn’t the result of over-caffeinated fanboys outraged over poor frame rates. Nor is it the cover of the latest album by Canadian indie rock band Arcade Fire.

The fiery images here are the result of a crackdown by police in the Sichuan city of Nanchong on illegal gambling machines.

▼ There’s often a grey area in legal matters, but you’ve clearly stepped over a line somewhere when the police response involves throwing flaming spears.

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Online, there’s a bit of a debate as to how accurate the assessment of the game cabinets as “gambling machines” is. On the one hand, we don’t recall seeing any of these units in the pachinko parlors of Japan or casinos of Las Vegas.

Still, the lack of a single joystick to be found, along with the huge number of buttons on the panels, is a pretty telltale design cue for electronic gambling equipment. Of course, you could say the same about a lot of coin-operated rhythm games like Beatmania or Pop ‘n Music, but the displays featuring roulette wheels and playing cards look like pretty damning evidence to us.

Still, gamers around the Internet found the images shocking and unsettling.

“Nooooooo!”
“What a terrifying sight.”
“Glad to know I’m not the only one who feels that way.”
“This is game-icide….”
“Does the fire smell like Capcom?”
“They don’t look like gambling games to me.”
“Weird. There’s a game that looks like Go to me, so I don’t think they’re all gambling machines.”

Unfortunately, medical science has yet to advance to the point where video games can be identified from their post-immolation dental records. As such, we may never know the true identities of those which perished at the hands of the Nanchong police. Instead, it’s up to all of us who weren’t present to search deep in our hearts and try to come to a conclusion, based on our individual faiths, that lets us come to grips with what’s taken place.

▼ I choose to believe that each and every cabinet with a blank monitor was rigged with a copy of Gundam v. 2.0.

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Source, images: Byokan Sunday