Ghost Rider (Or: Please Don’t Ask Why Ghost Rider Is Jumping Around)


Every now and again I am called upon to put on pants and travel out among the masses to see video games being shown by various game companies. This is, of course, oftentimes my first mistake.

Today, I went to see Ghost Rider which is, by all accounts, a fairly standard third-person adventure with motorcycle- and on-foot segments. The protagonist is, of course, Marvel Comics' Ghost Rider, a fiery skull-headed demon who generally does not play well others.

What commonly happens in these circumstances is that a game company has a representative demonstrate, say, that the hero can both punch AND kick*. This involves them trying to play the game and talk at the same time, which oftentimes results in neither successful communication of salient talking points nor instructive demonstration of the game.

A public relations person is always stationed nearby, and will say things like, "Ghost Rider will appeal to the comic-book reading demographic." If I do not write this piece of wisdom down, it is quite likely I will offend the PR person. [Continued]

After a good deal of hands-off demonstration of the game, the game is handed off, and I get to actually see for myself that Ghost Rider can punch AND kick. After a good 20 seconds or so of punching and kicking, the PR person will ask you to evaluate the game's strengths and weaknesses. Opening my mouth to answer, even if I vomit out $50 bills in such quantities that we can all head down to Rio?and to hell with Ghost Rider!?is perhaps my second mistake.

A PR person asking about how a game looks or plays is a trap waiting to be sprung, and the question must be dodged or deflected in any manner possible. I like to do this by saying the stupidest thing I can think of, which oftentimes involves me asking if, say, the game in question allows you to punch former German dictator Adolf Hitler in the stomach.

Today, however, I think I dodged the question by asking why Ghost Rider was jumping around so much. In the game, he jumps around like crazy. In the comics, he's just sort of plodding and also demonic. It's the sort of question that would make any sane man forget he'd just asked someone who'd played all of 20 seconds of a video game what that person thought were its strengths and weaknesses.

Anyway, a long discussion ensued about why Ghost Rider, in fact, jumped. No one in the room (me included) could give a rat's ass as to why somebody made a decision to have Ghost Rider jump around in the video game bearing his name, but the PR person, the game representative, and I must have discussed it for at least 10 minutes.

After an hour or so, I left. I probably should have had an epiphany or something, or something should have happened to serve as a punchline to my story, but it didn't. Instead, I just went out into the world and had a burger. I think Ghost Rider would have wanted it that way.

*By the way, Ghost Rider does not, in fact, kick. He uses a series of melee attacks combined with weapon strikes and supernatural powers to vanquish his foes.