Why Bikers Need To Be The Focus Of More Video Games
More games really should let you take a trip down the highway to Hell.
Picture the scene: a long open road spanning out into the horizon, when a bunch of motorcycles come roaring into view, along with some accompanying rock/metal music. Seems like enough incentive for a compelling narrative, right?
Well, in TV, it’s kind of worked, with the hit show Sons of Anarchy. The story of Jax Teller – heir to the criminal biker throne – appealed to millions of people with a predominantly positive reaction, receiving an 8.6 out of ten from IMDB. However, in terms of video games, there are only two games I can think of where it has been explored.
The first – and best – example is The Lost and Damned DLC for Grand Theft Auto 4, where the plot features the main protagonist being disgraced and having to take over the original club from his corrupted Club President. In terms of narrative and gameplay, it was awesome, even though it wasn’t a full game, and received a mostly positive reaction from reviewers.
Then there was Ride to Hell: Retribution, a stand-alone video game. As a personal fan of the biker culture, I had high hopes for this game – that is until I saw the final product: a very generic story, glitches galore, broken gameplay mechanics, and don’t even get me started on the fully clothed sex scenes, who feature the female characters giving up the goodies to the main character literally seconds after experiencing sexual assault! This game bombed with the public and reviewers, receiving 16% from Metacritic, a death wish for video games. It stands out as an example of game design at its absolute worst.
All these mediums tell a story about biker culture, predominantly outlaw bikers. Both examples are either an add-on to a bigger title or just simply terrible.
And that’s the problem.
Before I go further into this argument, what are outlaw bikers? The American Motorcyclist Association, or the AMA, say that 99% of motorcyclists are law-abiding citizens, which automatically implies the remainder are a contrast to this view.
With that being said, biker culture, and by inclusion outlaw bikers, are something that particularly needs to be explored narratively. Sons of Anarchy, as previously mentioned, explored these aspects of it as a story extremely well, and the Mayans MC spinoff show has high hopes from fans of the original show. Although they did this effectively, they are the only TV show to explore this, genuinely or otherwise.
However, in terms of video games, the same cannot be said. The most well-known biker game is a god-awful product and is honestly a spit in the face of gamers and those who includes themselves in this culture, outlaw or otherwise. The only competent biker computer game isn’t even a full game: you’d have to buy it alone with the full version of GTA4. And granted, bikers get a few winks in the future instalments of Grand Theft Auto, but personally, that is far from enough. Now, Days Gone, a PlayStation 4 title due for release in 2019, has some of my hopes hanging in the balance: though it is advertised as a survival horror game with zombies, the protagonist was a road captain, which is a new angle taken by game developers. Hopefully, we can explore elements of biker culture within the game’s plot.
Though bikers receive a negative outlook from the public as ruffians and criminals, this needs to be disproved. There is a rich history of biking culture, both legal and illegal, from around the world that desperately needs to be explored. Within the past century, bikers and their respective groups have increasingly become popular as a subculture. The Hell’s Angels in the US and the Blue Angels in my homeland of Scotland have a strict code of brotherhood and fraternity that – despite their criminal aspects that they are associated with – are something that, in terms of story writing, seek a more honest perspective. It would be great to see the masterminds of Rockstar Games dedicate their time and energy to such a project, outlaw bikers have a vast history which demands to be discovered and interpreted into a narrative.
I’m a sucker for a good story, and a good story typically involves conflict, and most modern iterations of stories involve conflict against criminal or government establishments, and that is why biker culture demands to be explored: as a culture, they inherently portray freedom and rebellion against the establishment. As for video games, if done right, they make for great storytelling.
So, please, take a fine-toothed comb and a look back over modern bikers: they have a rich recent history as a subculture in modern society, which has roots in the start of the 20th century. Honestly, there should be an interpretation of an interactive story that screams love and respect to everything they stand for. There are too few things in the media that celebrates bikers, and a fully developed title may bring more light towards something that is outside of the mainstream but is still an inspirational movement.
If video game companies like Rockstar think drug dealing or bank heists demand a playable story that’ll take up hours of time, then why doesn’t a culture that celebrates embracing your fellow man as brothers and using the wide-open road as your path to freedom? Even if it to portray a fictional outlaw biker gang, biking and video games could be a match made in heaven.