Raygun Brown looked exhausted. Sitting in front of a conference table full of executives, he glanced behind him to a video screen. It scrolled through screenshots. He winces just seeing these visions again. So difficult to erase them from his mind. In front of him on the table are piles of notes. Essays, diagrams, even random scribbles trying to explain his case. His story. How could this be happening? Why would they not believe him?
He looks up. Emotionless.
“I don’t understand this. We have been here for three hours. How many ways do you want me to tell the same story?”
Eight executives from the board of inquiry are seated at the table. One man, who seemed to be in charge, rubs his brow and leans forward. “Look at it from our perspective, please. Now, you freely admit to extensively and consistently bad-mouthing a triple-A video game release by the name of Aliens: Colonial Marines, published by SEGA and developed by Gearbox Software in association with Timegate Studios, Nerve Software and…countless others. Thereby damaging the reputation of a rather expensive piece of software.”
Another man smokes a cigarette and glances over. “Sixty million in adjusted dollars. Minus marketing of course.”
The first man continues. “Now, the reviews for the game corroborate some elements of your account. That, for reasons unknown, Colonial Marines was not a perfect game. It was released on store shelves, an untested market and was set for verbal and written destruction by you, for reasons unknown.”
Raygun Brown’s hair bristled. “Not for reasons unknown. I told you, in good faith I played this thing. Which destroyed my childhood dreams. And Gearbox’s expensive reputation.”
“Look, everything about Colonial Marines should not have seen the light of day. From the writing, action, AI behaviour, textures and the absolutely awful treatment of this incredible science-fiction universe. All through development, we were told – this is it. This is finally the game you were waiting for. We got this, Gearbox said. They said it over and over. How much they loved Aliens and they were going to do right by the fans. But they produced the worst possible result anyone could have even imagined. Scratch that, nobody could have imagined this. They even brought back Michael Biehn to play Hicks. Hicks came back from the dead, given a half-hearted explanation as to why and then he didn’t factor into the story in any way. Even Biehn came out later and said he hated working on the game!”
The man in charge sighed in exasperation. “The analysis team who went over the development for this game found no evidence of the troubles you describe. Sales were sufficient and people seemed happy about it. But your constant rage towards the game certainly had some effect and swayed some people from buying it post-release.”
“Good! Because I blew the possibility of it being a decent game that is worth buying out of a goddamn airlock!”
The man turned to a woman seated next to him. “Is there previous Aliens games that are any good?”
The woman shook her head. “No, they’re all mediocre. No previous masterpieces.”
Raygun Brown stood up. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “Did IQ’s just drop sharply while I was away playing this game? Ma’am, I already told you, it doesn’t matter how many poor excuses for Aliens games came before it, this was the one that was meant to fix all that. Depending on who you talk to, it was in development anywhere from five to ten years. But the finished game betrays any sense of that. Since 1986, people – no wait – I have been waiting for this game. So many other video game franchises wouldn’t exist without Aliens. I remember playing that crappy Aliens mod for Doom when I was a kid. Just to get a taste of what it would be like to set foot in the world that contained Ripley, Weyland-Yutani, pulse rifles, LV-426 and these terrifying xenomorphs. The fear and excitement of it. The raw terror of the unknown. Do you get it? I homed in on the hope that Aliens: Colonial Marines promised.”
The woman produced some notes. “And found something that has never been reported to the extent that you continue to tear down the fine work done by everyone involved.” She flips a page. “A game that is ‘an amazingly horrible and confusing mess‘…these are your words…’that will bore people unfamiliar with the Aliens universe and anger those who love it‘.
“That’s right.” Raygun Brown replied.
The man in charge started to get up. “Thank you, Raygun Brown. That will be all.”
“Please, you’re not listening. A QA tester on Reddit said he saw thousands of glitches and bugs in the game before release that were purposely overlooked. Thousands.”
“Thank you. That will be all.”
Raygun Brown pounded on the table. “Goddammit, that’s not all! Because if one of these things is allowed to happen again… if this kind of intellectual property that is held in such high regard can be wilfully and deceptively dragged through the mud, and then expected to sell at full price to people unaware of its staggering, sub-par awfulness, then all this…” He grabs some papers from the table. They are lists of triple-A franchises ready for reboots. “….this bullshit that you think is so important – you can just kiss all that goodbye!”
The room is silent. The man in charge stiffens his shoulders. “It is the finding of this inquiry that the writer and known menace, Raygun Brown, has acted with questionable judgement and is unfit to continue commenting on the history, development, marketing and overall quality of Aliens: Colonial Marines. Such ability is hereby suspended indefinitely. No criminal charges will be filed against you at this time and you will be released for a psychiatric evaluation. These proceedings are closed.”
The video screen turns black. All the executives begin to leave the room.
Raygun Brown walks over to the man in charge before he can leave. He blocks his path with his arm. “Why don’t you just check out the game for yourself?”
The man chuckles. “Because I don’t have to. We have people all through our organisation who have played it and they never complained about having their dreams crushed or hope betrayed.”
“What do you mean? What people?”
“Managers, secretaries, engineers. They get copies of the game and play them in their down time at home. It’s what we call a shake-and-bake employee program.”
Raygun Brown looked worried. “How many are there? How many employees?”
“I don’t know…sixty, maybe seventy families. Do you mind?”
Raygun Brown removes his arm. Everyone has left the room now. The lights have been turned off. Everything has gone dark.