Beers, Deers and Sneers

Firstly, continuing the ongoing saga of the company I work for and their relentlessly humourless policy on the Internet. The following arrived on my desk this morning

Please remember that it is a disciplinary offence to use cc:mail to send inappropriate mail. Due to a number of transgressions of this policy recently, outgoing as well as incoming mail is now being closely monitored especially those with attachments. You should not be using cc:mail/internetmail to send or receive bitmaps of your favourite scanned picture, or forward jokes on to friends. To do so is to breach company policy.

Yes, it is now apparently a breach of company policy to tell a joke. I don’t really think I need to say much more, except that my paranoia was exacerbated when the next piece turned up, just before home time that same day:

We have been informed that maintenance work on the Internet Mail Firewall will be performed this coming Saturday, August 1st. The work is planned to take 1 hour and will be performed between 09:00 and 10:00 BST. During this time no Internet mail will be processed. Mail items will be queued on both sides of the firewall and be transmitted once the service is restored. A member of the Messaging Products Team will be on site to ensure that the gateway is functioning following completion of this work. We apologise for any inconvenience that this may cause.

Coincidence? I think not — more likely to be another set of snooper programs going in there, to trap the evil wrong-doers who dare to rebel against the all-seeing powers of The Company. Still, nothing that can’t be bypassed in a million subtle ways — not least, by holding them up to ridicule here. Well, it makes me feel better about things, at least…

Onto lighter things. Specifically KILLING lighter things, and the joys of ‘Rocky Mountain Trophy Hunter’, a delightful little computer program picked up in Montreal during last month’s excursion. Part of a suite of programs that also includes the innocuous ‘Sporting Clays’, and the not-quite-so-innocuous ‘Deer Hunter’, this is the piece de resistance of the collection, allowing you to track down and shoot a wide variety of animals in the comfort of your own home, using anything from a bow and arrow up to a shotgun — sadly, flamethrowers and napalm are not available.

This ‘interactive big game hunting’ experience is wonderfully tacky. You must first select your equipment from a range of lures, calls, bait and other accessories, and are then taken to a map round which you must wander (in a virtual sense). When you find some tracks, you can switch to landscape mode, and pan round, looking for things to slaugh…hunt. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a deer, elk, or maybe even a bear wandering across the screen. Click a button and the cross-hairs come up, jiggling slightly to add that random factor. Wait as the animal drifts closer, unaware of the savage fate which awaits. Wait…and wait…and wait…and then, in most cases, watch the goddamn animal as it scampers away, spooked by your scent — or more likely, some random-number generator. Sigh manfully, and begin the process all over again.

Which is the other thing. It is also wonderfully addictive, in a deeply annoying sort of way, especially if, like me, you are more used to playing slaughterfests like ‘Doom’. It would undeniably be much easier if the animals were to steadily advance towards you in rows, a la Space Invaders — but they don’t in real life, and this game captures this spirit with (probably too much for my tastes) accuracy. So far, I have been as much threat to the local wildlife as Brigitte Bardot, save for one elk (I think — maybe it’s a deer — how do you tell these things apart, anyway?). This was gunned down in the back as it ran away, an unfortunate victim of a very lucky shot, fired more in aggravation than with any hope of hitting it. Still, they all look the same hanging on the wall of the trophy room. Oh, yes, the trophy room: this additionally tacky touch displays the heads of your three most recent kills, together with their size and the date/time. Luckily for me, it doesn’t describe the manner in which they were gunned down.

The label on the box informs me that the program rates a ‘3’ for violence from the RSAC, who presumably monitor such things, on the grounds that it “rewards injuring non-threatening creatures”. One wonders what it would take to get a ‘4’; presumably ‘Sim Death Camp’ might just. Of course, technically ‘Rocky Mountain’ rewards KILLING non-threatening creatures, though you can injure them — then you get to follow the blood trails in the direction the animal ran off. “Sometimes..the animal will recover and keep wandering”, says the manual, which is a nice, heartwarming, feelgood note on which to finish this review. ‘Rocky Mountain Trophy Hunter’ is, I guess, available from the usual PC outlets — or more likely, the usual extremely non-PC ones…

And, in a lame attempt to justify the heading of this editorial, I want to recommend the Shooting Star pub in Middlesex Street, near Liverpool St station. They have an endearing policy of scissoring off neck-ties deemed to be particularly offensive, and pinning them up on the wall along with the perpetrator’s business card. Suffice it to say that there is a little corner of the pub which will remain forever Trash City. Readers may care pop in and see if they can spot it…