Video Game Firsts: Swearing In Video Games - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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Video Game Firsts: Swearing In Video Games

Geek Dave says @!#?@!

Nowadays swearing is as commonplace in video games as it is in movies and television, but back in 1982 it was unheard of. Literally.

And then came Q*bert.

Q*bert was an orange critter with a large nose who starred in his very own arcade game - a 2D action game with puzzle elements that uses "isometric" graphics to create a pseudo-3D effect. The objective was to change the color of every cube in a pyramid by making the on-screen character hop on top of the cube while avoiding obstacles and enemies.

During the games design it was decided to include synthesized speech, the task fell to audio engineer David Thiel. However, he was unable to create coherent phrases and eventually chose to string together random phonemes instead, as he explained:
"We wanted the game to say, 'You have gotten 10,000 bonus points', and the closest I came to it after an entire day would be "bogus points". Being very frustrated with this, I said, "Well, screw it. What if I just stick random numbers in the chip instead of all this highly authored stuff, what happens?"
What happens is an incoherent phrase of synthesized speech. Add that to the speech balloon appearing above  Q*bert's head and we have the first "swear" word to feature in a video game.

Now if you're thinking "Dave, that's a bit of a cop-out. @!#?@! isn't a real swear word." Fair enough, so how about the very first uncensored usage of the word "fuck" in a commercially available video game?

That came in 1995, and the game was The Orion Conspiracy. It was available for PC's and given a 18+ rating, not just for its profanity, but also for its violence, references to homosexuality and offensive derogatory language.

Utilising, what was at the time, cutting edge SVGA graphics, The Orion Conspiracy was a point 'n' click adventure with a minimalistic interface. Verbs and actions were only shown when an object or character is clicked on, rather than being permanently displayed on screen, so verb or item icons that do not apply to the object are not displayed.

And if you want to try and get to the bottom of the conspiracy there's a fully playable demo included below...

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