Five Video Games That Are Definitely Not Making You Smarter

Categories: Lists, Technology
Is Angry Brides making you smarter? (Hint: no.)
Like a lot of kids, I nursed a healthy addiction to video games in prep school, trafficking kilos of cocaine across state lines on a graphing calculator from a desk in advanced Algebra. And according to gamer evangelists like James Paul Gee, this actually made me smarter -- it helped me create more neural pathways.

While video game research is still embryonic, there are smart guys with expensive degrees all over the country looking at graphs and MRI scans, concluding that video games enhance creative problem solving and trigger endorphins.

I'm no expert, but this sounds fishy. Sure, it might be true of some games. But the pixelated world is still a peculiar place, and there's no way all of it is contributing to the mental faculties of our impressionable youths. If you're looking for video game fun without all that pesky learning, check out these games.

Angry Brides (2012)
Social gaming has resulted in massive IPOs, an Oregon Trail rehash I can appreciate, and ridiculous smartphone notifications that wake me before my morning alarm. But Indian dating site Shaadi crossed several caste lines when it released Angry Brides this past weekend, which encourages users to bludgeon their husbands with frying pans, high heels, and kitchen knives before becoming victims of a dowry related crime.

The game can be played on Facebook, where Shaadi cites horrifying dowry crime statistics beneath it in the refined way upright non-profits do. Still, these do little to mask the game's mixed message, and as polemic as the issue is in India, an eye for an eye went out of style long ago.

London Urinal Game (2011)
This is perhaps the only time in my life where I'll get to use the term "loo" and kind of get away with it. While I can multitask to the point where I text while relieving myself, tipsy Londoners with differing degrees of pee-shyness get to face off in Captive Media's ski duel of old Nokia brick phone proportions on dual-core devices. The direction and speed of the user's virtual skiing abilities correlate directly to the accuracy of their urine, which will hopefully lessen the workload for janitors.

Drawbacks? High-fives with unwashed hands.

JRA Cinema Keiba's Japan World Cup (2010)
The prefix "hyper" is too apt for describing many facets of Japanese pop culture, including arcade gambling, J-pop, and karaoke antics that should never leave the shower. Japan World Cup is cloud-based game that lends itself to hyper-extended limbs and lots of osakini, where the Kentucky Derby meets Takashi Murakami during races that feature acrobatic jockeys perched on zebras, some sort of horseback tandem cycling equivalent, a tap-dancing stallion, a head banging giraffe and creatures that belong to a lost Terra Nova plot line. A part of me wants to blame this on General Macarthur.

Muscle March (2010)
Released on the WiiWare platform, Muscle March is about a 'roid-raging posse hunting down football players who seem to have finagled their protein powder stash. Its plot is as incomprehensible as the phrases uttered by that cousin of yours who took creatine supplements before burning the baby fat, claiming he's "swole" when he actually has more in common with a balloon animal.

Controlling a male avatar as oiled up as a Denny's skillet reaches pretty high levels of homoeroticism, making it the perfect Miami video game - or at least until I cash in on my idea of club promoters on strike, MMORPG style.

Plumbers Don't Wear Ties (1994)
Perhaps the only game on the 3DO platform retaining any sort of relevance is Plumbers Don't Wear Ties - not because it implies any prejudice against piping specialists, but because, well, it focuses on their, ahem, pipe laying abilities. Plumbers is mid-90s Skinemax fare made up entirely of still images and breathy telenovela voiceovers, and plays like a matryoshka doll of DVD menus. 

Given the gratuitous male nudity, an alternate gay male ending and only one softcore FMV sequence - a disappointment for 90s gaming nerds who were well acquainted with the 3DO's video playback capabilities - the game left many sketchy 1-900 numbers on phone bills in its wake.

And since there may never be a more appropriate time to say this, remember: a synecdoche for plumber is asscrack.

--Ahmed Mori

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