While a vast majority of the population remains fearful of a repeat of the recent riots in the run up to the inauguration of President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁), one local computer game manufacturer has taken a different view and is eagerly anticipating social disturbances. According to Digital Extreme's product manager, Chang Chen-wei (張振偉) the more trouble there is, then all the better for him and his company.
Chang's views might seem rather foolhardy and it should be pointed out that neither he nor his colleges agree with such anti-social behavior. The recent attempted "coup d'etat" by some of those embittered by the outcome of the election have, however, been responsible for seeing sales of the company's latest game soar.
2004 Everybody Fight (2004全民開打), a first-person shoot 'em up that pits members of the "pan-green" and "pan-blue" camps against each other, could be considered to be in rather bad taste, but the game has proved a huge hit and the turbulent post-election fallout has proven the perfect backdrop for the game.
"Before the election, the game was already hugely popular. By mid-March and election-day itself we had built up what we considered to be reasonable sales figures," Chang said. "After the election sales just went nuts. I reckon the demonstrations and riots made so many people angry they figured they could vent their frustration by playing the game."
Built around and based upon a game engine originally developed by the company two years ago for use in a cops-and-robbers first-person shooter that has yet to be released, the game features 10 instantly recognizable cartoon-like representations of members of the pan-green and pan-blue camps. The idea behind the game is simple: blow your opponent to kingdom come and stay alive.
The pan-greeen camp's comic characters feature Chen Shui-bian in military fatigues, Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) in World War II Japanese military dress, Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) in a distinctively fashionable green jumpsuit and accompanying neck scarf, Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) in a green singlet and Chen Ding-nan (陳定南) in green army clothing.
Representing the pan-blue camp are Lien Chan (連戰) dressed in SWAT team attire, Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in his running gear, James Soong (宋楚瑜) in a 1940's style Chinese Nationalist army uniform, Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) in a police uniform and flak jacket and Lien Fang Yu (連方瑀) in blue dungarees ,who was added for the simple reason that the company couldn't think of anybody else in the pan-blue alliance who was instantly identifiable.
Post-election sales of the comedic first person shooter spoof have increased beyond all expectations. The game's LAN (local area network) site receives hundreds of hits every day from gamers eager to exterminate members of the opposing political camps using a wide array of automatic weaponry.
The total number of units sold nationwide stands at over 3,000 and, while not officially available outside of Taiwan, 500 units have found their way to Hong Kong. This number may seem insignificant when compared to those of international LAN based games such as Counter Strike, but sales of the nation's first indigenous shoot 'em up have pleased its designers.
"We knew we would never match the sales of Counter Strike, but for a relatively simple to understand load and play game I think we've done really well," said Digital Extreme's Abel Wang (王國棟). "And as Taiwan's first indigenous first-person shooter game we've proved that there is a large market for unique games with local flavor."