Thursday, November 15, 2007

Writer's Strike Caused By Half-Life 2 Orange Box?

Sentry Gun
Originally uploaded by arsenionavarro
On October 10th 2007 a computer game, “Half-Life 2 – The Orange Box” was released in the U.S. to popular acclaim. On November 5th 2007 the Writers Guild of America went on strike. Two totally unconnected events.

Or are they?

A recent online poll by Valve software, creators of the game in question, revealed that an unprecedented amount of screenwriters in film and television were not only fans, they were spending vast amounts of their time playing the games contained in the Orange Box package in the days leading upto the strike and even more so since the strike began.

Through Valve software's online game system “Steam”, hours spent playing are logged, along with an option to indicate profession. Time and time again, Valve's staff were surprised to find the players racking up the longest stretches of game time were screenwriters.

“I suppose it makes sense.” commented Adi Shepherd, Valve's head of market research. “I mean a lot of these guys work from home, obviously on a PC. With no boss looking over their shoulder, I guess the temptation to just log on and start fragging is strong.”

These facts alone are interesting, but certain parties believe that the popularity of the game may have actually contributed to the strike itself. Certain members of the WGA negotiation team have been accused of “computer game addiction” in a spat that is threatening to draw attention away from the aims of the strike itself.

“Utter nonsense.” countered Cal Houn, one of the WGA's chief negotiators. “This is merely an attempt to cloud the clear issues at stake here. All we want is a slice of the online cake. A cake that at the moment, the producers are claiming doesn't exist. Well, we don't agree. That cake exists.”

“And when it comes down to it, the writers are the initial creative force. What is it exactly that the producers have created? Can they name even one thing?”

AMPTP representative Gina Cross countered bullishly “Cry some more.” going on to cryptically state “ A shepherd must tend to his flock, especially when they have grown unruly.” When pressed for clarification, she commented:

“I am sick and tired of hearing this whining from the writers for more money. We are their benefactors and they should appreciate that.”

On the issue of computer game addiction, she became defensive, believing that the accusations were directed at her union.

“I can assure you that no-one within the AMPTP even has a computer, let alone knows how to install mods, aimbots or wallhacks.”

“Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and build a sentry gun. Overlooking the picket line.”


Yes, it's a spoof. And apologies if you haven't played any of the Half-Life family of games, and read the whole thing with the slack jawed frown of someone with the creeping feeling that they're missing out on in-jokes. Maybe go buy The Orange Box, play the whole thing all the way through, then come back. I promise you it will get much funnier.