I’ve been reading Cameron Kunzelman’s blog This Cage Is Worms for a few months. I don’t remember how I came across it–probably he left a comment on another blog I read–and it has become a part of my daily dips into the vast pool that is videogame criticism. Kunzelman also makes games–there’s one called Funeral, a masterful deconstruction of the opening stages of Dragon Warrior, which, if the game’s Kickstarter page can be believed, he spent $306 to make–but I am deeply disappointed at his frankly irresponsible and offensive latest work, Oh, No.
I don’t know how much Oh, No cost to make (that information is not available, and as of the time of this writing, the theoretical email I sent to Kunzelman to get this information was theoretically not returned) but I can tell you that the cost to my soul was incalculable.
The game is quite simple–a little dude runs from the gigantic all-consuming head of Michel Foucault, which the player must try to outpace by pressing the Z, X, or C keys as instructed, all while a jaunty chiptune plays–and it’s deeply, deeply, offensive.
Foucault died of AIDS. Oh, No is a clear statement that we, both personally and as a society, need to run from people infected with HIV lest we also become infected. It brings back the darkest days of the plague when hospitals turned dying AIDS patients away and funeral homes refused to take in their bodies. The use of the keys Z, X, and C, being as they are on the lower left of the keyboard, implies agreement with the idea espoused by such luminaries as Jerry Falwell and Jesse Helms that AIDS is a disease of the lower classes and of progressives. The giant head of Foucault, with its mouth moving in a mockery of speech, seems to be hungering for the little dude, who body is black and whose head is teal (the gayest color), reminding the player of nothing but a tiny cock that Foucault, being a gay man, must hunger for at all times to the detriment of own health and, indeed, his own personhood.
I’m sure that Kunzelman will say that all of this is unintentional. He, better even than Foucault, must realize that that is irrelevant. We have all seen that dark heart of hatred to which the human spirit can sink. Its name? Oh, No, by Cameron Kunzelman.