The X-Files #221: First Person Shooter

"The blood thirst is unquenchable."
ACTUAL DOCUMENTED ACCOUNT: People start dying for real in a virtual reality game.

REVIEW: William Gibson's second script for the show is just the stupidest thing. The X-Files doesn't do "computers" very well, but you'd think Gibson would be the man to succeed. Nope. The idea that a digital avatar could physically affect and kill video gamers, or that those gamers could "disappear" into the video game (or virtual reality, since this is kind of an amped up paintball set-up) is ludicrous indeed. If they were dying of heart attacks, maybe, but full-on decapitation? Dumb. They don't even attempt an explanation, because there can't be one. There's no real resolution either, the game just sort of ends. So cue terrible "cyberpunk" costumes and repetitive violent action - this game amounts to standing still and shooting mostly unmoving targets, which makes sense given that, like, two people work at this place. The kill command doesn't sound like reasonable failsafe either, and what, this game company doesn't have any back-ups? Don't invest in this company, folks!

But then the characters and their motivations are just as dumb. They have the Lone Gunmen "sell out" in the hopes of making big bucks, and dragging their favorite FBI agents out to California to investigate an impossible death they'd rather have covered up. That doesn't sound like them at all. Mulder is compromised too, acting like a little kid who knows all the big gamers out there... Have we ever seen a console at his apartment?! There's a lot of bad dialog, especially when it comes to the amoral video game mogul who thinks only of his sales, though perhaps the most offensive scene is the one where Scully parrots censorsome parents associations/5 o'clock news teams who warn us of the dangers of video games, with Mulder taking the other side as if this were a debate X-Files viewers would be having. And don't get me started on the row of adolescent cops who apparently have never brought in a sexpot hooker before...

Or rather do, because the sexism in First Person Shooter is nigh unbearable. It's MEANT to be about female empowerment, I guess, but the female game designer created the killer avatar to be the perfect woman, a man hater that feeds on "male aggression" (that's as much explanation as the episode gives us for what's happening). And yet, the designer's "goddess", this female empowerment figure, looks like the worst "boys club-ism" video games have produced. She's either in a thong, or wearing a sexy cowgirl costume, a fate ultimately reserved for a new avatar showing up in the coda, with Scully's head on the dominatrix body! After all her whinging about violent games, Scully becomes a video game badass, only to be turned into a sex object for the distasteful mogul to exploit. At every turn, there's a moment that makes you cringe. A Basic Instinct cross-the-legs shot. Scully telling someone it's not fair to pick on a girl. Was it all supposed to be a comedy? Mulder's final voice-over sure sounds like a parody of his usual poetics. But it's not funny. Just crass.

REWATCHABILITY: Low - An episode that doesn't understand the world it tries to deliver, compromises its every character, and is offensive to boot. Bad SF unless you want to say it predicted the culture that produced GamerGate.


Andrew said...

Death in an unreal world leaves it's mark in reality in the form of your corpse? If I didn't know better, I'd be tempted to think they were trying to homage Nightmare on Elm Street. Which still doesn't make it a good episode--saw it just the one time when it aired, and it's badness still haunts.

Okay, not really, but on those rare occasions when I have to think "bad X-Files episode," this is one of the ones I go to.


Blog Archive


5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zine