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Games for the masses!
The chicken delictiIf I were a programmer, I probably wouldn't know what to make of it. On the one hand, you toil for months, even years to create a game, spend hundreds of thousands of marks on the project and let all your creativity flow into it, and on the other hand there comes this "game" of merely 2 MB and causes quite some fuss in Germany. The game I'm talking about is simply called "Moorhuhn" (Grouse), for months on everybody's lips and even subject of the mass media.
 
Grouses under fire:
In some companies, the "Moorhühner" even brought production to a standstill, and some employers had rather pick a bone with his employees than to clear the sky of grouses. But the free download and the verbal propaganda helped the shooter to receive unlooked-for popularity. Since it had been designed as a promotional game for Johnnie Walker, the game concept is unsurprisingly simple: in 90 seconds, you have to shoot as many grouses as possible. In the meantime, lots of highscores have sprung up on the internet that elect the best grouse hunter around, and a full-blown comepetition for the hunter throne has erupted. Psychologists think to have found out that the grouses' indifference towards their impending demise considerably increases the fun to shoot them...
 
Gameplay under fire:
The golden chickenThe situation grew comical when the German Society for the Protection of Animals pilloried the game, saying that by shooting these legally protected animals, the inhibition level of trying to do this in real life would be lowered. "Moorhuhn" fans countered these arguments and said that the game's comic-like graphics sufficed to guarantee a clear distinction between reality and game. No matter with which point of view you would like to side, it can be taken for certain that the interference of the Society hightened the game's popularity rather than have the adverse effect. As a consequence of the "Moorhuhn" boom, the share price of the Bochum-based Phenomedia AG, the producer of the game, has risen by more than 90% so far.
 
The sequel:
Right now Phonomedia is working on the official "Moorhuhn" sequel; but also the next instalment, which is set to be published in the next few months, will neither feature sophisticated graphics nor new weapons. As a compensation, new weapons like the shotgun have been added to the original grouse hunt, since fans had called for heavier weaponry. The evident advantage of such politics is that the file keeps its small size - a necessary precondition for a quick and unhindered download (and therefore a quick distribution of the game).
Links:
Moorhuhn,

J. Walker,

Phenomedia

More under:
Moorhuhn 2
The phenomenon:
The chicken brokerWhat's striking about the "Moorhuhn" phenomenon is that it's once more a simple game concept that hit the nerve of the masses. This may explain why the highly primitive Deer Hunter made it to a bestseller in the United States, or why games such as Hugo or Autobahn Raser were sold thousands of times in Germany. Early feelings of success and easy accessibility were probably the main reasons for the games' popularity, since both in view of graphics and gameplay they were overtaken by rival programs long ago. But despite all the criticism one has to concede that most of these games are simply fun for a short period of time - in particular "Moorhuhn" gets you temporarily hooked. Let's hope nevertheless that the programmers of more sophisticated games, in the face of such mass-compatible gaming hysteria, don't turn to plagiarize innumerable "Moorhuhn" versions in the future...
© 2000 by CE

 
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