“Because we live in tough times..”, “there’s a recession on..”, “economic downturn..”, etc. Whatever the reason, businesses these days are failing, left and right. The people are demanding a very particular level of service, and the world of business has become a twisted landscape of hounds consuming hounds. Even videogame companies are feeling the squeeze, with THQ having gone bust and Atari circling the drain with a desperate backstroke. But how would in-game companies deal with the challenges and demands of the modern business world? From what we at WASDUK figure…not very well:
10 – Umbrella Corporation – The Resident Evil Series
Sometime in the late 1960’s, a handful of very rich and entirely-too-happy-to-play-God research scientists hit upon the progenitor virus, after spending way too long buggering about in West African flowerbeds. The virus itself seemed to have two major traits: it didn’t cause cancer (which although useful, could be said for most other substances on the planet), and the ability to act as a mutagenic pathogen that confers weird and wibbly monster powers. After what must have been the shortest consideration of ethical propriety outside of a Halliburton meeting of the board, it was decided that the best thing to do would be to manufacture the virus in various forms as a bio-weapon, and the best way to do this would be to inject it into as many things as possible.
And so, after a number of syringe-happy decades, the Umbrella Corporation (because they came up with the cool logo before the name) had a headquarters in almost every country on the planet and a thriving pharmaceuticals front. This makes it the most disappointing company on this list. The company they set up to cover for their evildoings was so successful that the evildoings weren’t even necessary. Their medicines were top notch, and their brand was impeccable. They even developed a spray to all-but-heal open wounds. Presumably, they were well on their way to developing a cure for herpes that tastes like a margarita. However, the company was still run by the same classically evil research scientists with a startlingly similar taste in mansion interior design, so the path of cheap, effective medicine would simply not do. And thanks to their insane lust for injecting things with whatever idiot virus they cooked up the previous week, they soon found they had a particularly big zombie problem on their hands. Even when all that was cleared up with the prudent application of nuclear warheads, they still had a number of ex-cops shaking their fists at them from escaping helicopters.
So why would Umbrella fail in real life? Because unleashing zombies and biologically-mutated monsters isn’t as much as a threat these days as it was back then. If a zombie outbreak hit, the vast majority of people would already have a plan for what to do. Almost everybody has had the conversation by now, and nobody would be able to deal with the posthumous embarrassment of being that one guy who uses the line: “No, no, she must still be in there somewhere!” when faced with the decomposing shambling of an ex-girlfriend. Besides this, zombies are NOT an effective bio-weapon. Due to the fact that they can’t properly open doors or climb stairs, they are somewhat less effective for spreading a virus than taping vials of the T virus to the tops of remote –controlled cars.
9. The ULTOR Corporation – Red Faction/Saint’s Row
Ultor seems to have made pretty great strides between the Saint’s Row series and the first Red Faction game, growing from popular clothing company to owning and maintaining (albeit briefly) the mineral and development rights over an ENTIRE PLANET. I daresay that real-life companies won’t attain the same level of growth until Adidas patents their first sneakers with a built-in quantum destabilizer cannon. Sure, Ultor used some pretty underhand business practices to get to the top, but it’s hard to blame them completely for their cruel, exploitative behaviour toward their employees when said employees seem to be such complete and utter morons. Perhaps Ultor had really good PR. The kind of PR slick that could hold press conferences that explained Mars as a lush and verdant tropical paradise, and get away with it. Sure, there would be some nay-sayers. The words “stark, irradiated wasteland” might come up from some wag of a reporter. Some might even have claimed to have the foresight to look through a telescope. But these people, explains the PR guy, are: “Pussies. Am I right, folks?” And the crowd goes wild, pumping their fists into the air, and deciding that they’ll all go to Mars next year. For the surf culture he promised.
As a result, Mars in Red Faction seems to be the perfect place for idiots to spend a gap year, and they seem wholly surprised when they end up miles underground, slowly picking ore from cave walls. This looked nothing like the pamphlet they were handed by the suspicious, grey-suited ULTOR official back on Earth. Where were the ski slopes? Where was their own personal harem of Martian sex slaves? The truth sank in slowly, but surely.
In the end, ULTOR would fail in reality because it gives in to two of the most common mistakes of fictional companies. Firstly, it seems to make good business sense to hire a completely deranged psychopath, handing him an enormous research grant with a smile, smugly assured that he’ll put the money to good use, instead of, say, designing , creating and then unleashing genetically-altered killing machines on the planet’s surface. Which Axel Capek does. Because he’s weird-looking and evil, and some frigging idiot just gave him an enormous research grant. Secondly, they fail to learn from history. We in reality know that when the time comes to colonise Mars, we’d better be damn nice to the grunts we send out to do the digging. Because Mars creates Rebels. One spark of discontent in the labour force , be it the refusal of a pay rise or the relaxation of casual Friday policy, and they’re tossing barrels of tea into their non-existent oceans and sticking their futuristic pickaxe into some poor overseer’s eye socket ‘for the revolution’.
8. Team Rocket – The Pokemon Universe
When it comes to God-awful business practices, we can hardly envision a worse company than Team Rocket. It’d be easy to focus this criticism solely on the cartoon version, wherein the company rather grandly claims as corporate goals, among many others, the unity of an entire nation and the implementation of a thriving space program. In reality, the pointlessly ineffectual Team Rocket CEO Giovanni sees fit to constantly dispatch the three most inept members of his team to…catch a mouse. “But this isn’t just a mouse! This is Pikachu!”, I pretend to hear you cry to move my argument along. Indeed it is. The very same Pikachu that you can rather easily catch out in the wild, or have the mad old duffer on the outskirts of town GIVE to you, free of charge at the very beginning. If there is something special about the way that this particular Pikachu has evolved, if it’s been raised in a particular way to make it unique and powerful among the rest, then it would still be easier for Giovanni to set up a ‘Pokemon Love and Friendship Division’ than to send out the three stupidest (and most empathetic) of his rather thin workforce with a bag of poke-snacks and a rubber cage on a pole.
The games don’t seem to fare much better as far as the viability of their business goes. They’re more successful at what they do, but what they do is still shit. Stealing pokemon, which seem to be so plentiful that teenagers can’t walk a few steps without being attacked by one, and selling them back to people is much the same idea as trying to market common rats as cheap alternative pets that double as a Roomba. And you’re still not going to sell any, because rats are everywhere and people aren’t quite that stupid. The idea of capturing and re-selling only the rarest and the strongest pokemon makes even less sense. The only people that seem to have any use for the rarest and the strongest are those weird kids with no other hobbies and negligent parents who hang around the pokemon gyms all day, and for them, the fun is in training the pokemon themselves. People don’t buy completed jigsaw puzzles. They don’t buy finished Rubik’s cubes. They don’t buy fully-levelled World of Warcraft chara-…never mind.
7. Aperture Science – The Portal series
Doing science to things has always been a tricky business, and throughout history, many men and women have fallen to the more horrible aspects of the obedience to proper scientific method. In the 17th century, Galileo ‘Galilea’ Galilei was hounded for heresy, daring to claim that the gargantuan ball of fire in the sky was the butch. In the 19th century, Marie Curie paid the ultimate price for her research into radioactive superpowers. In the 21st century, anyone that makes electric cars is labelled as ‘gay’. The real world, all told, is not kind to science. Less so to scientists. Build one little world’s biggest supercollider under Switzerland and you’re suddenly going to be responsible if you happen to tear apart the physics of the universe. Which is why, in the real world, Aperture Science would probably do even less well than the fictional version did.
The method of their failure would probably be signalled by very much the same problems as the games portray. Budget cuts. Problems with the work-force. A negligent IT department. But the reality of the matter is that the Aperture Science of fiction is WAY more conscientious than its real-life counterpart would ever be. Their devotion to testing and re-testing their product was the end of them, whereas here, in real-life, products are released without proper testing all the frigging time. The Aportal device would come with a few flimsy warnings stickers pasted to the minimalist box (do not point at eyes, celestial bodies), and people would queue up for days to be the first to own one. After a week, long enough for the honeymoon period of instant trans-spatial travel to wear off on the general public, the online support centres in Delhi would be inundated with unhappy users clamouring after a refund since their failed attempt to use the device to take a ‘selfie’ tore off both their legs. Despite worldwide condemnation, they’d go through at least five more iterations of the device, making it smaller, larger, smaller again and adding new portal “whoosh” noises, but it wouldn’t keep them going for long. We live in a world where throwing a wiimote through a TV isn’t just possible but actionable. Aperture Science’s doors would finally close, and the lawsuits would roll in from families whose blameless attempt to catapult their SUV directly through the doors of Walmart caused immeasurable emotional distress.
6. The Agency – Crackdown
We live in the midst of a digital age. It’s great! It means you can access the entire knowledge of the human race at the click of a button, but more importantly, you can read this article, then go on to browse pictures of cats wearing funny hats and disdainful expressions. One community that has gathered followers by the hundreds of thousands due to this surge of information has been the field of conspiracy theory. Before the internet, those interested in conspiracy would be limited to greasy independent bookshops, or that one crazy uncle that lived in a trailer and shouted at people who owned microwaves.
These days, we’ve all heard about the Illuminati, the Bilderberg group, the Tri-Lateral commission and the Skull and Bones society. Nobody with Internet access remains unaware of grey aliens, Men in Black, the Bermuda triangle or Lady GaGa. Which is why the shadowy ‘Agency’ of the Crackdown series, with its force of ‘Peacekeepers’ would be allowed less real-world interest and funding than the committee for the canonization of Jeffrey Dahmer.
Firstly, it doesn’t help that the Agency is as obviously vague as a hipster discussing musical tastes. Words like ‘peacekeeper’ and ‘agency’ don’t inspire literal interpretations in the public any longer. We don’t think of peace keepers as ‘people who keep the peace’. We think of oppressors and rapists and maniacs with flamethrowers in the middle of a rainforest, who somehow manage to cackle insanely but still keep the Cuban cigar in their mouths. The Agency goes as far as to openly declare that they are ‘exploiting’ the work of a ‘disgraced scientist’, without even bothering (or not being able) to lie about it. Dealing with the Agency must be like dealing with an organization of people with an Evil form of Aspergers.
The world has never been happy to openly fraternize with disgraced scientists. There’s often a reason they’ve been disgraced in the first place, usually due to incautious uses of phrases such as: “They called me, MAD! ME!” Or: “With this technology, we will be unstoppable!” in their Nobel acceptance speeches. The conspiracy theorists, once they got their teeth into this news, would likely just give them a call, ask openly about their plans for world domination, and be e-mailed the complete diagnostic blueprints of their mega-death cannon, with all the structural weak points marked out in pink highlighter.
5. Alchemilla Hospital – Silent Hill
Silent Hill’s Alchemilla Hospital gets a little bit of a rough deal, we know. Doctors and nurses are unsung heroes that are enough put-upon, having to deal with long unfriendly hours and rigid time constraints. Having to deal with all this in a town that’s prone to twisting the inhabitants into ugly, blood-soaked nightmares make it even worse than paramedic work in Glasgow on a Friday night. But, even without the madness, the seeping infestation of dark gods and the frankly woefully out-dated medical equipment, Alchemilla hospital wouldn’t last five minutes in the real world without audit, inspection and closure.
For a start, it’s not named after the most recent of medical practices, but the main problem here lies with the staff. Even without the town’s influence, they’re as much use as Patch Adams at ground zero. When Dahlia Gillespie (local nut-job and Romany gypsy cosplay champion circa ’96) comes pelting through the doors with a slightly overdone teenager in tow, the idea of calling the Silent Hill Child protection Agency doesn’t seem to occur to any of them. In fact, they deem the best course of action to be: “Diagnosis: Stick her in the basement. Maybe get some bandages on that. She looks a bit peaky.”
Of course, the only person that could ever hope to have the expertise to deal with the victim of such horrific burns is the trainee nurse who hasn’t studied the Hippocratic oath because she’s not sure it’ll be on the test. Enter Lisa Garland, with nothing more than a reassuring smile and a box of bandages. She’s the kind of happy-go-lucky spirit that will heal the kid right up. She doesn’t question the fact that the burns don’t heal, or the girl doesn’t stop screaming. She just applies fresh bandages and assumes that this happens to everyone, possessed of all the medical know-how of a child playing Operation. She doesn’t even let her crippling addiction to psychedelic drugs bring her down. Wait..what?
It would seem that the Hospital Administrator, Michael Kaufmann is a very naughtymann. Aside from the drug thing, clues to which he manages to hide like an obese paranoid hiding a packet of oreos, he’s also well in with the same demonic cult that inspired Dahlia to ritually flamegrill her daughter. In reality, when all this came to light, who would take the fall? Not Kaufmann. He’s rich enough to avoid blame and doesn’t leave a paper trail. There’d be a scandal, of course, and the hospital would certainly be shut down. But Kaufmann would be out of there on early retirement, with a nice fat golden handshake. He’d be headed for his second home in the French Alps before Lisa’s forced resignation hit the desk.
4. United Aerospace Corporation – Doom 3
It’s the same old ‘rags to riches’ story. A relatively-unknown company makes a big discovery and everyone is all over them like a persistent rash. It’s more than likely that nobody had ever heard of UAC until their first major development, the Ion Drive, whatever that is, which they presumably developed on one drunken night in the research and development offices while trying to make the toaster have sex with a cross-point singularity emitter. Whatever that is. The CEO at the time, Tommy Kelliher, who no doubt preferred to be called “Tommy” because he thought it made him sound like “one of the lads” decided that Earth wasn’t quite full enough of his particular brand of asshole expansionism, so set to thrashing out awesome new technologies like different types of fancy-looking guns.
By the time his son took over, there were so many guns around that everyone decided they might as well be using them, and that a good old fashioned world war was probably the answer to their many concerns. The Earth governments, being the bright sparks that they are, handed off their responsibilities to the UAC like an ugly baby, pointing them in the direction of Mars, and kind of hoping they would take all the guns with them. UAC, despite seeming to contain more ruthless bastards than the secret sex tapes of Alan Sugar and Donald Trump, now had free reign over an entire planet, because nobody really likes Mars anyway. It’s all red and uppity, because Holst gave it an awesome soundtrack.
Once there, they decided that they might as well set up a bunch of secret labs to commit heinous and morally reprehensible research. What happens on Mars, stays on Mars, after all. While doing research into dimensional travel, they accidentally open a portal to Hell. Which must have been a real fucker for any Atheists on board, as well as…everyone else?
But what really makes them a company that would fail in real life is the fact that they were well aware that they were opening portals to Hell, and instead of closing it, taking a cold shower and counting rosaries for the rest of the natural lives, they decided to dip in, nab a couple of the denizens of Hell for study, and cut them up for shits and giggles. This is not gazing fearfully into the abyss. This is gazing fearfully into the abyss while simultaneously attempting to teabag the abyss, all the while insinuating crudely that its mother does sexual favours for chasms.
3. LCPD – The Grand Theft Auto series
Being a policeman must be a very tough job. Though the rest of us can happily fantasize about throwing ourselves over the hoods of cars with a really cool roll before firing off a few warning shots or leaping from a helicopter with enough firepower to bring down Venus and landing in a drug kingpin’s swimming pool, the life of the average policeman is a mundane drill of early mornings, late nights and mountains of police reports. In actuality (though it often depends on where you live) a regular ordinary policeman can’t lay a finger on you without having to work their way through more trees than a starter character in minecraft.
Which is why the good ladies and gents at the Liberty City Police Department wouldn’t really last very long in real life. Their approach to crime could be best described as preventative; worst described as ruthlessly pre-emptive and actually described as “why the hell are you shooting at me, I only dinged your car! Oh, god, please stop!” But they don’t stop. Run all you like, and these mad, gun-toting bastards will chase you down forever. Regardless of your original crime, they’ll take your refusal to lay still with your hands on your head as a confession to every unsolved crime in their files from vandalism to the Whitechapel murders. They don’t tire. They don’t relent. They’ll bring helicopters in. Tanks, if they need to. And believe us, running won’t help you.
Well, unless they can’t see you for 60 seconds. That’s right, if you evade the steely gaze of the law for slightly less time than it takes to boil a kettle, they tend to give up and go about their day. You may have been taking pot shots at pedestrians from the top of a tower all day, but after a minute the justice of the LCPD goes cold. Or you could paint your car a little. Someone who keeps his motor so prim and spotless couldn’t possibly be a criminal, after all.
If the real-world failure of this brand of law enforcement is lost on you, then I can only assume you’re reading this from a jail cell. To the LCPD, the morning briefings that handle the sad little facts of due process and diligence were probably skipped in order to watch funny youtube videos of guys setting themselves on fire.
2. Arkham Asylum – The Batman: Arkham series
Admittedly, Gotham city would be a pretty bad place to live. It’s dark, it’s dingy, and all the architects have this 1930’s fetishism thing going on. To add to this, every day seems to see a brand-new crime-wave by at least one of the most depraved lunatics ever to fill out the Gotham City census forms. If you live in Gotham, it’s a good day if you only have to flee from some idiot with fake wings and a flamethrower, or a guy who thinks he’s the King of Olympus. The Gotham City Police Department can only be stretched so far before they break, and your only hope for peace is a borderline psychotic in a bat costume.
That’s where Arkham Asylum comes in. These villains are obviously too crazy for anything but a secure environment of careful, ordered psychiatric care.
Unfortunately, they get Arkham Asylum, built on the most imposing cliff Gotham had to offer, by a group of contractors whose only forms of entertainment were old episodes of The Addams Family and mescaline. Whatever online hack-job got the psychiatric team their doctorate degrees obviously believed that patient calm and well-being is best nurtured by a rusty see-saw, fifteen foot-high gothic gates and the kind of bare, jagged tree that is just waiting to be back-lit by a fork of lightning on a stormy night. Coupled with this, the staff are little better than the insaniacs they pretend to look after. Methods of care involve patient consultation (good), intricate files on childhood trauma (good) and injection of experimental super-serum developed from a highly-addictive strength hormone (risky). After taking on a woman called “Harleen Quinzel” and deciding to put her in charge of the clown prince of crime, we start to wonder if it might not be some deliberate scam by the most ruthless Batman Villain of them all; the Gotham City Board for Psychiatric Care and Development. Those Bastards.
Ultimately, the biggest problem with Arkham Asylum is their openness regarding their ‘revolving-door’ policy. Which is more like a revolving door, revolving window, and in case you’re one of the flying wrongheaded, a revolving skylight. Once a patient stops cackling for long enough to declare themselves sane, they’re given a pat on the head, a packed lunch and a quick ride into the city, where Bruce Wayne puts down his newspaper, groans and wonders what his billionaire’s tax money is being used for.
1. Shinra – Final Fantasy VII
There is no way to mince words on this one, but as always, I will do my best. The Shinra Electric Power Company has to be not only the most evil company in video gaming history, but also the least interested in hiding the fact. Not content with having a name that translates (in quite a round-about and oddly Buddhist fashion) to not just “God”, but “God” in the possessive form, their entire business model revolves around dragging the souls of the dead out of the planet and selling them back to the people for use as fuel. As if this weren’t evil enough, they’re all too happy to destroy hundreds of thousands of innocents in their own city to thwart a handful of rebels with stupid hair and/or improbable weapons. To top it off, when the old president is killed, his son Rufus (who, much to our dismay is not a Blaxploitation Harlem cop) decides that his old man was always too nice to the peons and not killing them hard enough, or something, so decides to rule by fear. Because up until now, the company have been nothing but media darlings. This is probably true, but only because they own all the media.
Things only get worse when the planet decides that enough is enough and conjures up Godzilla’s pissed-off big brother to stop Shinra smashing it to pieces and sucking up its juices like a thirsty retard with a watermelon. The Shinra response to this? Mount a gigantic cannon to the top of the city and fire upon the planet’s protector. Because fuck it, why not? When you’re as big as Shinra, the planet needs to learn its place.
In reality, however, the Shinra corporation would fail hard. Not only do we live in the midst of the information age, where any act of oppression by Shinra’s paramilitary troops would end up with a million hits on YouTube faster than a fat kid falling off something, but we also live in an age where environmental concerns are paramount, and a rich corporation can’t frack a dishonest buck without some whining hippies reminding them that they’re destroying the planet. Alternative energy sources aside, people know exactly who to demonise these days, and power companies have never been all that popular. A power company that calls itself God and operates a large paramilitary force would be a bigger target than Fox News, the Catholic Church and Walmart all rolled into one. It’d only take one over-zealous shinra troop to fire upon a peaceful demonstration outside the HQ, and wham: shinra electric and power company goes the way of steam.
(featured image from teecraze.com. Feeling naked? visit the store HERE)