A DECEMBER REPORT from the Violence Policy Center revealed that gun makers are using video games to peddle firearms to children and create lifelong brand loyalty. But Remington Top Shot and Colt's Wild West Shootout are just the beginning. In an effort to keep pace in this high-stakes marketing fusillade, other big companies are devising computer and video games of their own:
Budweiser's Froggy Drunk 'N' Drive puts young 'uns behind the wheel, dodging grannies perched on lily pads, school principals, and MADD protesters screaming "Whassup!" Players compete for BudPoints that can be redeemed for logoed merchandise and fake IDs.
Camel Joe's Last Gasp is a 3-D lobbying contest set in the hallowed halls of Congress. Run roughshod over surgeon and attorneys general; attempt to eliminate smoking regulations, warning labels, and lawsuits in order to save every child's favorite dromedary!
Firestone FlipOver! More blame game than video fun, FlipOver outfits players with virtual Ford Explorers, then sends them careening ass over tea kettle off jumps, obstacle courses, and embankments. Slo-mo replays show tires fully intact. Then sue, sue, sue!
McDonald's Operation: Follow Mayor McCheese, Mr. McRib, and the Fry Guys into the Land of Cholesterol. Children learn about the health benefits of the Golden Arches menu, then play surgeon, opening clogged arteries and performing bypass surgery on an obese, sclerotic clown—that's you, silly!
Microsoft's Window on the World is a great new arcade game stolen from Nintendo with the look and feel of PlayStation and the temperament of an old-fashioned Atari. Help stop monsters—who look suspiciously like Janet Reno—from destroying a peace-loving colony of innovative Nerdites. Fun for the whole family! (Not available for Mac.)
Eminem's RapHouse: Less of a corporate promotion than a shout out against assorted wacky minority characters. In a sleazy Detroit hotel, tattooed, cap-assed backwards characters gain Grammy nominations by "bitch slappin'," "queer bashin'," and engaging in tons o' misogynist behavior. (Note: Not to be confused with the wholesome M & M Chowdown, sponsored by the sugar industry.)
Pro Wrasslin' Smackdown: Featuring the "ladies" of the WWF, the game deploys teams of giant, steroid-pumped masked crusaders who crush beefcake opponents, swagger endlessly, and create testosterone-induced bedlam while mobs of white trash fanatics scream from the rafters. It's just like the real thing!
Dot-Com HyperDrive: Sponsored by failing Internet companies, the game allows kids to choose a favorite avatar—sock puppet, lackey, Shatner, etc.—to gobble up venture capital like Pac-Man, then soar to the top of the Nasdaq! Like the developers themselves, the game has no goal, vision, or long-term exit strategy, but skilled players can cash in their options before the game "crashes."