metzomagic.com Feature

Harry Potter: A Modest Proposal

By Gordon Aplin with assistance from A. Muggle (2000)

A MODEST PROPOSAL FOR PREVENTING CHILDREN FROM ENGAGING IN UNNATURAL SOLITARY PURSUITS AND FROM BEING A PARIAH IN THE COMPUTER GAME PLAYING COMMUNITY, AND FOR MAKING THEM BENEFICIAL TO THE INDUSTRY

It is a melancholy object to those who surf this great cyberspace to see that in isolated pockets of this fair realm sites still devoted to that most despised computer game genre known as adventure. The wretched denizens and visitors to such sites are frequently seen begging on newsgroups and message boards for the release of more adventure games to feed their disgusting habit. A habit, I may point out, that keeps them in the abject poverty (both of coin and wisdom) that they so richly deserve.

The more sentimental amongst us have sometimes paid heed to their raucous bleating and thrown them the odd crumb, often at great expense to ourselves and with no certain knowledge of ever being able to recoup our generosity. Though, I must confess I am not of this persuasion and prefer to think it a greater kindness not to hold out hope to these sad creatures. Better to let them fade away for want of nourishment and confine the most resilient among them to pick over the scrawny carcass of old fashioned 2D graphic adventures or even text adventures where they can be safely ignored.

Yet a most disturbing situation has recently arisen, one which could not have been foreseen by game publishers and discerning gentlemen of fortune and which, if left to its own devices, may breed a whole new generation of adventure game players. I am, of course, referring to this phenomenon of Harry Potter which it seems is causing our children to turn away from their consoles and televisions and embrace that old, uninspiring and, quite frankly, unoriginal technology of books! We all know how dangerous is the solitary and unhealthy pastime of reading. Not only does it not teach hand/eye co-ordination, but also it is extremely linear and may lead our children to move on to harder substances such as interactive fiction and graphical adventures. There, gentlemen, lies the road to ruin. The industry we have so painstakingly built up is under threat if we do not tackle this issue head-on.

I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of children and even adults who are reading of the fanciful exploits of this Harry Potter can only lead to a deplorable state and a very great additional grievance; and, therefore, whoever could find a cheap and easy method of bringing these children back to the industry fold would deserve to be made CEO of a major games publisher at the very least.

But my intention is very far from being confined to aim only for the children currently obsessed with Harry Potter; it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of kids capable of convincing their parents to fork out for Harry Potter merchandise no matter how irrelevant it may be.

In essence my modest proposal is to exploit the phenomenon that is Harry Potter by creating a series of computer games, as well as HP baseball caps and Hogwarts sweatshirts, that will rescue these kids from a life of certain misery. After all, what do they have to look forward to after they have outgrown their Harry Potter addiction? I will tell you, gentlemen, they will clutter up websites and message boards with their whining and begging for adventure games even though they know we are resolute on this issue and that we refuse to produce them as there simply is no demand. And we must ensure that there be no demand, even though my understanding is that the exploits of Harry Potter and his friends at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry are best suited to the adventure game genre. Here is where we must make our stand and break this cycle of dependency for if we don't it will only lead to children reading more and demanding adventure games when they get older.

In the best tradition of our young and forward-looking industry I humbly propose that we seek out ways to gather elements from these stories that will maintain the environment and character of the author's creation. And furthermore that we then provide our own inimitable originality and creativity to the task to come up with game scenarios never before attempted. As you know our own extensive research of our target demographic (that is boys aged twelve to fourteen) shows that they overwhelmingly favour exciting action games over reading boring stories and I am confident that we can extrapolate these results to the entire population.

With this in mind I would further propose that we consider the release of our first game based on Harry Potter to be X-treme Quidditch Rampage. In this massively multi-player title the objective is to be the last one flying when all your opponents and even innocent spectators are just piles of ash on the pitch. And, if I may warm to my enthusiasm just a little, I have this brilliant idea to replace broomsticks as the mode of transport with rocket-powered skateboards. This way the kids playing the game will be able to relate directly to the inherent realism of such a scenario as it is patently clear that they wouldn't accept such an absurd proposition that the game could be played on broomsticks.

Also, gentlemen, think of the possibilities for spin-offs! We could have different Quidditch scenarios with head to head contests on snow boards, rollerblades or even in high-powered vehicles. And the more traditional sports need not be left out either. I am thinking here of Harry Potter Football Manager and Hogwarts Ice Hockey.

Many other original scenarios might be enumerated. Harry as a marine commander leading an elite force to rescue Hermione Granger from the evil clutches of his arch-enemy Draco Malfoy. Just imagine it ... Harry uses his invisibility cloak to haunt the hallowed halls of Hogwarts at night, blasting his enemies at will with an array of high-powered and highly realistic armaments and all in real time. Then there is my personal favourite that I am thinking of calling Hogwarts Panty Raid. This is for the older boy say twelve to thirteen or maybe even thirty four in particularly sad cases. The idea is that we maintain the author's environment by having four fraternity houses based loosely on Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw from the books (we may have to rename them). And you gain points for your house by doing really obnoxious things like eating live goldfish, vomiting over the house master's shoes or setting the classroom on fire. And I thought it would be really cool if we could make the ultimate objective a night-time raid on the Cheerleaders' dorm. All tastefully done of course, but a bit risque ... we do have to keep pushing the envelope here.

Ahem. I have too long digressed, and therefore shall return to my subject. The advantages of my proposal are many. First we attract the children away from books and stories by careful association of the name of Harry Potter with our products. That way we can use our existing game ideas and just rename them.

Secondly, we will be doing the world a favour by stamping out the next generation of potential adventure game players and we can maintain our stance that there is no demand for such games.

Thirdly, we have the opportunity to increase our market share through these products. Yes, gentlemen, I am speaking here of the opportunity presented to us to market our games to those who have previously shown little interest in them because of their innate lack of affinity with technology. I am, of course, referring to girls. Don't laugh, it is well known that a lot of girls are reading Harry Potter. These future mothers are the ideal market because they will inculcate their own children with a love for the games that we develop. Just imagine it! A game for every child and every child a Dudley Dursley!

Harry Potter and other characters and places from the books mentioned here remain the property of J.K. Rowling.

(With apologies to Jonathon Swift and especially to J.K. Rowling)

Copyright © Gordon Aplin with assistance from A. Muggle 2000. All rights reserved.