Welcome to a place I call Hockey Hell. Image: Code.org
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau made a video game. I couldn’t tell you the exact amount of time he spent developing it. Games these days can be made over a weekend, or half of their demographic’s lifetime, but I’d wager it didn’t take him too long. Trudeau made the game earlier this week at Shopify’s Ottawa office, during an event called Hour of Code, which promotes computer programming education.
The game doesn’t appear have a name. It’s a hockey game.
Unlike Electronic Arts’ NHL 17, Trudeau’s hockey game does not feature career campaign modes, fantasy drafts, or licensed teams and real-world player likenesses. Unlike Mutant League Hockey, the 1994 Sega Genesis game, it does not feature mutants. Trudeau’s hockey game features a single mode with a hockey stick (yours), a net (your opponents’), and pucks. An incomprehensible amount of pucks.
Every time the puck scores against you, two more spawn in its place, like some kind of hockey hydra
Essentially one-half air hockey and one-half Pong, the objective is to smack a puck into the net in front of you. If you miss, the puck will bounce back. Floating from side to side, as a puck would in a one-player game of air hockey, you might watch your puck graze the edge of the net without actually nestling in it, like the infuriating DVD player logo that refuses to place itself into the corner.
Where Justin Trudeau’s hockey game falls apart, quickly, is that when a puck goes by you it’s considered a point for the opponent. That’s the Pong half. This alone would be a cruel way to conduct a sport, but it worsens. Every time the puck scores against you, two more spawn in its place, like some kind of hockey hydra.
This does not happen when you score a goal. Only in your own defeat. You can find the fun and grit of juggling a few pucks around, but there’s an inevitability you’re fighting against. Eventually there will be too many pucks. And those pucks will produce more pucks. Before you know it, the screen is full of pucks, and pucks will continue to create each other until the game crashes itself.
I call this place ‘Hockey Hell.’ A swarm of the once-passing sound blips becomes a drone of noise. The slaps of the little pucks against the ice are now like the solid wall of clacks you feel from a pachinko parlour’s opening doors. The blows from the ref’s whistle become like the shrieks of birds arguing at dawn. The occasional applause from the crowd seems to mock you. They cheer because you’ve scored a goal, but that’s the last thing on your mind as the world drowns in cylinders that look like the cookie ends of an Oreo. As you are shooting from behind the centre line, perhaps this is a punishment for icing. Perhaps that was your sin.
“Coding is easy & anyone can try it,” tweeted Trudeau. “Check out the game I made today.”
Yes, anyone can try coding. I would agree that programming is worthwhile, but perhaps this is not the prime minister’s own calling.
Because the game was made using Code.org’s tools, you can tweak the game on your own, so maybe to start, you can try fixing the Canadian prime minister’s video game.
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