Signs of the worldwide economic downturn, known by some as the Great Recession, are nearly absent from modern video games. So it came as a surprise to me when one my assignments in a new video game was to foreclose on homes.
The game is DeathSpank: Thongs of Virtue, which is an unlikely candidate for commentary on the economic crisis. DeathSpank is a game about a stupid muscular hero who, under the player's control, goes on an adventure to kill bad guys while searching for several magical thongs. In this game, you'll be using a flaming sword to smite ogres, and you'll collect donkey manure because someone asked you to.
A character in the game gives you a bunch of signs and asks you to help foreclose on some homes. I received the mission a few hours into the game, after being puzzled by the signs planted in front of many of the fantastic homes in the game, signs indicating that these homes had happy mortgages.
Well, these mortgages weren't that happy, and DeathSpank had to foreclose on a bunch of them.
I'm not sure if I have a choice about which homes to foreclose on. I can't tell if there are more homes than there are foreclosure notices. I've foreclosed on a few, including the blasted crater of a home featured in the video here, but I haven't seen any characters reacting differently because I foreclosed on their homes.
As with most things in DeathSpank, you are expected to carry out your missions with glee. I didn't feel much remorse for foreclosing on homes, mainly because the action seemed to be without consequence. Still, I felt less comfortable doing it than I did smiting leprechauns.
There's no deep economic commentary here, but at least there's a sign that the creators of this game know something about what Americans are going through now and that that has some influence on the expression in their work.