Invisible Truth

13 05 2009

With my blog redesign and retitling, added to my impending graduation, I decided now was as good a time as any to sit down and write some more thoughts.

Someone once said that good games to him are ones that had him learn something from the experience. I would tend to agree. Not necessarily learning in an educational sense either, but learning in a way that alters my perception of the world around me.

For instance, Deus Ex: Invisible War was not up to par with it’s prequel. However it did have a few truly mindblowing moments for me from a real-life stance. Specifically the series of “Coffee Wars” sidequests. There are spoilers after the jump but then again this game is 6 years old by now

In Invisible War there are two competing coffee chains that exist in the urban areas you visit. One is named Pequod’s, and is found in the upper-class areas. The other is called Queequeg’s, and is found in the lower-class areas. I’ll get back to the Moby Dick connections later. Anyway throughout the game you are frequently asked by the owners of each shop in each city to screw over the competition in a variety of ways including arson, hacking, celebrity endorsements, and so on.

Until you get to Trier, Germany. Here there is no Pequod’s, just a Queequeg’s with an irate owner wondering why Pequod’s ads keep being run near his store, and wondering why his lawsuit against them was dismissed. Upon breaking into the evidence room at the nearby SSC (think multinational security agency), you find out that Pequod’s and Queequeg’s are actually separate brands of the exact same company.

This is actually nothing new. In fact, in the same year the game came out, Seattle’s Best Coffee was bought by Starbucks while still retaining the Seattle’s Best name. Which of course made me wonder when my nearby Borders’ bookstore sold Seattle’s Best and the nearby Barnes & Noble sold Starbucks. In reality, the real winner being Starbucks since they’re making money at both ends. In addition, I found out that Starbucks was actually going to name itself “Pequod’s” before they realized the urinary implications of the first syllable. So indeed, perhaps Invisible War knew something nobody else did.

Another real-world example is Exxon-Mobil, which keeps both Exxon and Mobil stations open with the same names, to the point where you can have an Exxon and a Mobil station across the street from one another and competing for each other in gas price, despite the fact that really, unless they’re franchise stations, they’re only competing against themselves.

Of course, I never would’ve started thinking about this (seemingly common) business practice if not for the fact that I had learned of it first within the game. Of course naturally, the Deus Ex games have always had a notion that truth is stranger than fiction, though fortunately I haven’t thought that every single conspiracy is true…at least not yet.

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