games / Columns

Dead Rising 2 Predicted Trump’s America

November 17, 2016 | Posted by Paul Meekin

It’s strange how sometimes, what you need, finds you. Amidst the rage following the Presidential Election, I came across a post on Facebook that said something like  “In Mafia 3, can you really plow through a Ku Klux Klan Rally like the trailer implies? Asking for a friend.”

I didn’t know the answer. Directing this man to any number of World War II shooters where you summarily murder anti-semitic and white supremacists Nazis likely wouldn’t scratch the particular itch he had.

I do know that if you’re the mood to dehumanize and slaughter a mass of like-minded individuals in a manner befitting the current political climate, you could do a lot worse than Dead Rising 2, recently re-released on Xbox One, and recently purchased by me.

It is perfect catharsis – and perhaps quite a bit more. Much like the recent election, Dead Rising 2 is controversial and derided. Some feel constrained by the conservative time limits, others offended by the liberal use of implied sexual violence. Others feel there’s a sense of liberty in a Triple A game that doesn’t hold your hand and demands you pull yourself up by your boot straps to contend with its no-hand-outs policy of brutal difficulty. When you add in the fact that the bad guy of this game is a reality TV Host gone rogue in search of power and money, well, I can’t think of a better time to play a terribly under appreciated game.

Hell, you’re even bringing back defenseless humans – which are a minority in this game, to a ‘safe space’ away from the hordes who could harm them, where they can cry and weep – and bemoan the lack of quality coffee, in peace.

Taking the role of Chuck “I’m not Scott Bakula” Greene in the midsts of a zombie outbreak, you’re tasked with rescuing survivors, and providing medication, Zombrex, to your daughter – if you can not provide this medicine for your daughter, she will die, and then be undead. While Dead Rising 2’s genre is sandbox survival horror, its texture is scathing social satire; pulling no punches and taking all the cheap shots it wants. From rednecks to the fame obsessed to the chronically liberal, Dead Rising 2 is a window into how the rest of the world views America in a way. It was produced by Kenji Inafune of Mega Man fame, but developed by a Canadian company, Blue Castle Games.

And boy oh boy do they have a bead drawn on American society – and are not afraid to pull the trigger. Take for example CURE – the organization in the game that suggests zombies are people too, and need to be treated with respect and dignity – just because they’re murderous carnivores doesn’t mean they don’t have rights. “Zombies lives matter” is never said, but it might as well be.

In fact, if you really wanna get into it, the zombies you wade through could represent the ideological middle class – the millions of Americans who don’t think in terms of ‘right’ and ‘left’ and instead shuffle about their lives largely oblivious to the political machinations of the very place they live – too dumb, too lazy, too busy, too stressed, too annoyed, too hungry, to pay attention. You are welcome to slaughter them all – stand-ins for your chosen ideology of vitriol, or to attack only those who get in your way.

Of course amongst the mindless masses is the very vocal minority ruining it for everyone; A woman so obsessed with her ‘comeback’ that she’ll crowd surf into her (literally) ravenous fans. A group of rednecks reciting literally every talking point of this past election while doing a “My name is Earl” parody – right down to an Ethan Suplee stand-in. Keep the immigrants out, build a wall, this is our country, Amerika is for Americans dag nab it, and so on.

While tragedy, like earthquakes or tsunamis can bring out the best in people, calamity – like losing an election, brings out the worst. Amidst calls for impeachment, riots, protests, and petulance, the appeal of Dead Rising 2 is obvious – namely that you can solve America’s problems with a sledgehammer taped to a fire-axe and life’s enemies are either comically one dimensional or mindless zombies.

In real life, this is obviously not the case. Or is it? Do *you* contemplate the full humanity of everyone you disagree with? Should racism be punishable by death? What about stupidity? Bigotry? Gluttony? Ignorance? Are they still human? Capable of complex thoughts and ideas and beliefs- and change? And is the way to change their minds blunt force trauma as you would a mindless zombie, or with a bit of finesse as you would any of the bosses in Dead Rising 2?

What is the proper punishment for the institutionalized? Pick a deadly sin – are you comfortable being the one to throw the first stone? Sure, in this game you’re encouraged to use a flamethrower instead of a rock. On the internet we got bucketfuls of rocks to throw at anyone and everyone we disagree with. In real life, person to person…we simply choose not to talk about it at all.

So here we are. A country that hasn’t felt this divided since we ripped ourselves apart about that fucking Oscar dress. The great American Melting Pot is now oil and vinegar and moments away from someone throwing some baking soda on this bitch to make things really interesting.

Lord Cameron of Dillington said “Civilization is nine meals away from Total Anarchy” – I agree, and Dead Rising 2 demonstrates it. A world thrown into total chaos that still manages to hold onto the ugliest parts of society – our ideologies and materialism and racism and xenophobia and fear of trust in our fellow human beings. Our hubris and self importance. Things we have to explain, cover, rationalize, and express our pain. Pain that ultimately makes us human.

If you’ve never felt pain, and can’t recognize it in others, well I think that makes you…