South Park has always been on point when it comes to satirizing, or directly confronting, social, cultural and political issues the creators have beef with. From Kanye West being an egotistical jerk to the infamous depiction (or lack thereof) of the prophet Muhammad, Trey Parker and Matt Stone are not afraid to blast a topic they find appealing. When it comes to videogames and gaming culture, it’s clear that if not fans of the culture or gamers themselves, they’re intimately familiar with what makes gamers angry or excited. In this article CGM takes a look at some of South Park’s finest episodes lambasting the gaming industry, and gamers themselves.
Back in the mid-90s, when South Park was fresh on the scene, a little known Japanese company called Nintendo unleashed the cultural monster known as Pokemon on the public. Up until this point, South Park hadn’t yet settled into the role of being the critical satirizer of current events we know it as now. The show was still about 3
graders and their misadventures, and when Pokemon grabbed hold of the world’s youth, it made perfect sense to assume that in the world of South Park, a similar phenomenon would likely happen as well. The writers use the cartoonishly evil and sagacious Japanese to underline the inherent scum and greediness of companies that market directly to children.
Make Love, Not Warcraft
Arguably the most famous of South Park’s videogame parodies, this episode finds the boys addicted to Blizzard’s crazy popular MMO World of Warcraft. In order to combat a super powerful and high level character that’s running around killing everyone, the boys decide to hide out for a few weeks and farm nonstop until they’re strong enough to fight him. This episode really solidified the stereotype of the “neckbearded basement-dweller”, and the scene where Cartman’s mother… assists him with bathroom duties will make the strongest stomach gag. What’s awesome about this episode is the titular item, the Sword of a Thousand Truths, eventually inspired the title of the very real South Park RPG, the Stick of Truth.
Go God Go
While videogames aren’t necessarily the central theme of this two-parter, they feature as a prominent plot device. Like many children (and let’s face it, adults) the agonizing wait for a new console launch becomes so difficult for Cartman that he decides it would be preferable to just freeze himself until the Nintendo Wii becomes available. Unfortunately for him, he ends remaining frozen for quite some time. He awakens in the future in the midst of a war between rival atheistic factions, yet his resolve to get his hands on a Wii remains firm. That is until he discovers nobody in the future actually cares about videogames and his best hope is to find an ancient Wii in a museum. We’ve all been in his position before, and given the option I’m sure many of us would choose to enter suspended animation rather than suffer through weeks or months of hype and anticipation waiting for a new console or game.
Ahh, Guitar Hero. If ever you wanted to hear a musician speak about something in the most condescending manner, ask them how they feel about this game. Trey and Matt latched onto this vibe as well, and this episode shows how they and other artists really felt about the super popular (at the time) rhythm game and the music industry. Record deals, addiction, band break ups, fame, this episode covers it all; especially so when Stan finally discovers what happens when you “beat” the game, and realizes the entire journey has been a waste of time. Not as relevant to younger gamers who don’t remember the massive trend Guitar Hero started several years ago, but anybody who ever went to a bar that featured a faded and ripped projection screen with a PlayStation 2 hooked up to it will understand and flex an appropriate cringe.
Freemium isn’t Free
This episode spoke to me. I HATE mobile gaming and the entire idea of F2P games. It’s insidious, sleazy, and totally makes sense from a business perspective. Hook people with a simple, yet addictive base game, then charge them tiny fees to continue playing, get more in game currency or some kind of stupid hat (looking at you Team Fortress) This disgusting practice works especially well with children and older people, and that makes it even more awful. Stan becomes addicted to a mobile game that revolves around Terrence and Philip, the vulgar Canadian celebrities the children in South Park love so much. At the end of the episode we find out that the Canadian Devil Beelzeboot was behind the whole thing, and the real Satan even sits down with Stan to explain the science and chemistry behind addiction. Another feather in the cap for the writers of the show, and even more proof to add to the gigantic pile that shows just how tuned in Trey Parker and Matt Stone are to the ills of modern society.