Sponsored By

Duke Nukem : Adolescent Male Power Comedy Forever

This is my reflection from a 15 minute demo of Duke Nukem that I was fortunate to play at PAX.

Game Developer, Staff

September 5, 2010

3 Min Read


Ok, to be clear I played a 15 minute demo of the game in the Pax booth; and I wasn’t able to complete the level (I think). They checked the ID of all the entrants to the booth (so this wasn't a kids game). I also waited in line for 2 and a half hours.

What I mean by Adolescent Male Power Comedy is that the game is over the top to the point of sarcasm. The Duke Nukem Forever should not be taken 'seriously' when looking at its parts. You really have to laugh with the game about how over the top everything is. Everything is out of the park. What I mean by Adolescent Male Power Fantasy… It's Duke Nukem, a game where you can shoot space aliens and tip strippers. It's not a complex concept to grasp.

The Demo takes things so far that you have to laugh with it. If you're kicking field-goals with the entrails of your enemies, you are not playing the next Bioshock or Mass Effect. That doesn't mean you aren't having fun.

'Good Games' have been trying to push the artistic side of the media and show that they can really be something more than just Space Marines, Barbarians slaying Orcs, and Silent Protagonists. They have been showing that games can tell stories and create emotions.  Players make meaningful choices affecting deep and rounded characters. They create puzzles that change the way we think about how we can interact with the world. They can build artistic styles and create wholly unique worlds that nobody short of being in a dream could experience. It's incredible and fun and shows so much of why games should be protected as an art form.

But not much of that is really funny. Duke Nukem is a sarcastic comedy that is trying to be both fun and funny (at least for 15 minutes of it is) And in parts is completely adolescent and over the top. It is everything that games have moved away from. It would be wrong to say that games should ONLY strive to represent the artistic side of things or conversely appeal to the lowest common denominator. Duke Nukem makes fun of the lowest common denominator in a way that only a 'gamer' could understand.

But only a gamer could understand.

10 years ago videogames were not that important to the average Joe (actually they were incredibly important, but most other people just didn’t know it). Duke Nukem was controversial then, but today? Everyone outside of games is going to try to use this as some rallying cry to censor games. The content of the game is border-line offensive to me (but the context and sum of its parts makes it hilarious). The fact that I can't recap my entire play experience without being offensive means anyone who wants to make a case against games won't really have to try.

The saddest part is that the game is only trying to poke fun at the lowest common denominator and serving up some overdue nostalgia to gamers. It's doing something that games don’t really do any more; be adolescent, funny, and fun. I honestly think that the game will be popular not only because it is fashionably late, but unique when compared against the majority of titles. Duke Nukem in my opinion will try to prove that games don't need to be High-Brow to be entertaining.


Read more about:

Daily news, dev blogs, and stories from Game Developer straight to your inbox

You May Also Like