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Back in 2011, the horrible teenage boys that I worked with thought it would be hilarious if I played Duke Nukem Forever. If you aren’t familiar with the world of Duke let me explain. Duke Nukem was a popular game series of the 1990s. It featured a brawny tough guy, Duke, who was constantly saving the world from aliens. Development for Duke Nukem Forever began in 1996. The game was finally released in 2011 after 15 years of development hell. So, needless to say, the game was highly anticipated. At the time, I was the mentor and sole female member of the Library of Games podcast. That’s why they made me play this game. Oh, wait, I forgot to mention that Duke Nukem might be one of the most sexist and misogynist series ever. I thought I had lost this diary but I found the other day while rooting through my computer files. Here are my slightly censored feelings about the first hour or so of the game.

Okay. I’ m actually going to do it. I’m going to play Duke Nukem Forever. It’s been sitting on my desktop for weeks mocking me. It’s saying “You have to play me because the group of teenage boys in the LoG podcast – the podcast you started – are making you play me – because they think it will be funny”. I hope all my fellow LoGers feel very ashamed. They are making me do something horrible.

I think I said I was going to be open minded about this game. Not anymore, I’ve passed that point.

At the moment I’m staring at all the other fun games on my desktop.

“Play me Taylor, I’m Portal. I make you feel smart.”

“No. Play me, I’m Indigo Prophecy. I have a complex and engrossing storyline.”

I think the prospect of playing DNF is making me crazy.

Okay here we go. I’m clicking on the black hole on my desktop. I have a slight reprieve. First time set up is taking a few minutes.

It has begun.

Intro: Blood spatter on boobs. Charming.

I’ve begun the actual game play. Wow. The very first action of this game is to pee in a urinal. It’s amazing the things we can do with the magic of video games. I always wanted to know what it would be like to pee in a urinal! Okay. I’m in a bathroom. Time to explore. Wait. I can pee in a urinal but I can’t take a bath in the Jacuzzi? Shenanigans! But, I can make Duke stand under a shower for as long as I want. Fun times. I’m gonna make him do that while I go change my laundry to the dryer…I’m back. Still under that shower I see Duke. Fully clothed. You’re a smart guy aren’t ya? Oooh, I also have the option of peeing in a traditional toilet. This game is all about options.

Enough stalling. It’s time to leave the locker room. Hey! I can write on a whiteboard. Never has gaming been so exciting. I just wrote on the whiteboard that, “This game has a very low opinion of women.” Apparently my NPC teammate thinks this is brilliant plan.

Time to shoot stuff in the arena! Oh no. The arena exploded and I’m stuck in a hallway. TIme to use my fists. An NPC guy next to me asks if I’m going to “Save the world all by myself.” Of course I am. I’m Duke Nukem.

Yes. It’s alien shooting time. No fair, that guy shot all the aliens before I got to punch them in the face. I feel cheated. Wait, seriously that happened again! When are you going to let me do something other than pee?!

Shooting time. So, you know how in good games they teach you the controls in a really organic way that connects with the storyline. Not so in Duke Nukem. Good game design is for chumps! Let me go to the menu to see how on earth I control this game. That doesn’t take me away from the game experience at all.

Shooting, shooting. This is really boring. Get some ammo. And shoot some more. Okay. Boss is down. Right, I’m supposed to press space repeatedly to finish off the boss. I’m doing that. I’m hitting the space bar many many many times. Why aren’t you dying? Oh, you have got to be kidding me! The stupid alien is alive again! But I pressed space the way you asked me to! Ok. Let’s do this again. No. No. No. I hit space repeatedly again. Why aren’t you dying?! I don’t think I can hit space any more repeatedly than you are asking me to game! Why aren’t you working?! Third times a charm, right? No! Absolutely not. This is so stupid. I know how to quickly press keys. How much faster do you want me to press them!?! Okay this has to be a glitch. Trusty Internet save me from stupidity. Okay. It is a known glitch. Let’s see. The only answer is to turn down my graphics. Done. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?! The alien is still alive. I hate….so…..much….one more time….

It worked…it actually worked. It took both hands and I think I may have broken my keyboard but it worked.

And all of my relief at that is over. Let the sexism begin! I’m in Duke’s apartment now, spending some quality time with female twins. Okay. I get it women are slutty and stupid. They talk in stupid high-pitched voices and giggle like little girls… and do some other stuff that I won’t mention. Geez, how many naked lady statues does one man need? Also, apparently, Duke needs an exit sign in his own apartment.

Waiting for a really long load time right now. I wonder why there’s a glitch during a boss battle but you can pee in multiple locations with ease? It seems fifteen years has really given all of the developers time to straighten out their priorities. Just bought a pack of cigarettes from a vending machine and threw them at a wall without a glitch. Go me!  Aw, a little kid wants my autograph. Hey I can actually write what I want in this kid’s book. I choose to write “poop” because that’s how this game makes me feel. Also, a small child should not be standing anywhere near Duke Nukem. Wait, I can write in various colors! Amazing!!!! Look, it’s a plate of donuts. I’m going to eat them all. I just did. That was so much fun.

Time to be on a late night TV show. But apparently the show is canceled because of some kind of silly alien invasion. Ha ha. I’m backstage and there’s a celebrity ranting. Do I smell a Christian Bale parody? Oh Duke, you are so timely and relevant. TIme to take an elevator. Oh no. It got stuck. Now I have to climb out of the top and force the doors open. Okay, I have to tap space repeatedly again to force the doors open. Alright do you want me to break my space bar. No? This time I can just press the space bar four times at a reasonable speed and the door will open? Thanks game. You are so well designed and amazing.

Wandering. Bored. So bored. I thought I’d be really angry about how sexist this game is but it is so boring I don’t even care anymore. This is coming from a hardcore adventure gamer (I would like to think there is such a thing – you can argue with me on that later – but not now – because I am sooooo bored) and all you do in adventure games is point and click.

Oooo – I’m in a spinny elevator. Now the President is talking to me. I’m not going to listen. I’m going to spin office chairs. Shiny and spinny. I’m not going to listen to you Prez when I can spin chairs!!

Finally it’s time to beat up aliens with my fists and some throwable trophies. I knocked out an alien and Duke remarked, “My balls, your face.” Is this part of the new Duke Nukem? Non sequiturs masquerading as insults. I want to write for this game. In my world Duke would say, “my finger, your elbow,” or “my crayon, your sunset,” “my pointy bat, your monte cristo sandwich.” I should be writing this game. Let’s start a campaign to make me a writer of the next Duke Nukem game.

Oh no. I broke a mirror. Seven years bad luck. Poor Duke. Basketball in your face alien! I think this is where the phrase, “My balls, your face,” was supposed to appear. But it didn’t. Instead Duke didn’t say anything. Nothing. Silence. No remarks. Great.

I’m in some tunnels now. There’s fire and stuff. Oh. I’m out already. That was totally worth it. Apparently drinking beer makes me tougher. I don’t think that can be proved scientifically but I’m sure the people at Gearbox did some appropriate research to back that up. It’s a joke you say…oh…really? How funny. My sides they are splitting with the laughter. I just burped and some aliens ran at me. I think I’m done for now. Mostly because my laundry is done and I’d much rather be re-playing KoTOR. I put in a good 90 minutes. Tomorrow I’ll play some more. Let’s hope it’s not as boring and pathetic. Why was I so angry in the beginning? This game is terrible.

And I never played this terrible game again. Instead I went on to play beautiful games, like Gone Home, Papers Please, Broken Age, Portal 2, Skyrim, BioShock Infinite, Kentucky Route Zero, Bastion, Civilization V and yes, I did replay Knights of the Old Republic and it was fantastic.

Taylor Bayless

Taylor Bayless

Taylor Bayless is the lead mentor and founder of Library of Games. She used to be a Cinema Studies person but was then sucked into the world of libraries. She is currently a librarian at YOUmedia Chicago. She is a life-long gamer and a particular fan of adventure games, especially the work of LucasArts, Double Fine, Telltale and Quantic Dream. Working with this amazing group of teen gamers has been the highlight of her professional life and it has been a pleasure to share her love of video games with the teens of YOUmedia.

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