Friday, February 11, 2011

Postal 2: What's up with this game?

Postal 2, a little known video game released in 2003, is so violent that it has been totally banned in the country of Australia. It is highly controversial due to it's incredibly violent gameplay, explicit language, and frequent stereotyping. In this one-player game, you take on the role of "The Postal Dude," a creepy looking man who wanders around the city of Paradise. You are assigned mundane tasks to accomplish, but in order to accomplish these seemingly simple tasks you must commit insanely violent acts. The clip embedded above gives a sampling of the game; you can see the "Dude" killing seemingly innocent people with all types of weapons: ice-picks, samurai swords, and guns. The developers of the game counter the criticism of violence by claiming that the amount of violence is up to the players. By making the player responsible for how much or how little violence is committed, the game developer aims to place responsibility on the video gamer for his/or her violent tendencies. The violence, drug use, and sexuality displayed in Postal 2 is so tasteless and senseless. The game received a substantial amount of negative attention after it was revealed that Dawson College (Montreal) school shooter Kimveer Gill was a fan of the game. Regardless of the mindless violence expressed during gameplay, some critics have positive things to say about the game. Linux and Macintosh developer Ryan C. Gordon says that he feels the game holds a mirror to the worst aspects of modern society, saying that the game is "a brilliant caricature of our mangled, disconnected, fast-food society, disguised as a collection of dirty jokes and ultraviolence." So watch the video and see what you guys think of this game: is it meant to be a subtle shot at American society or is it simply just another incredibly violent video game?


  1. While I can't say that this game is definitely a tasteless caricature of society (at least from the video above), one also cannot completely deny the possibly. Grand Theft Auto 3, a game that shares many gameplay similarities with Postal 2 undoubtedly pokes fun at our society, especially through the in game audio. That said, I can't really agree with the developers who say that the amount of violence committed is solely determined by the players, since the game itself (at least in my experience playing GTA) encourages violence should the player desire to progress.

  2. After watching that video, I don't think Postal 2 is a "brilliant caricature" of anything. It seems completely mindless, what with the dismembering of random townsfolk in order to complete a list of truly mundane tasks. I read a little more about the character of the Postal Dude and apparently he's quite unfortunate looking, lives in a trailer park with his obese, nagging wife, and is generally shunned by the people around him. In order to establish any identity at all, he enacts various degrees of violence against them. In that sense, I suppose he is a representation of the dregs of American fast-food society, but (From what I see) the actual game fails to hit its mark.

  3. I've played this game and it is very possible to go through the entire game without using any violence. It is definitely encouraged though, I can imagine the frustration and boredom a player would have to go through to actually go through the entire game without doing anything violent.

    That being said... I would be dishonest if I were to claim that I didn't take some perverse pleasure from the violence in the game. Even though as a whole it is poorly made, the graphics are bad, the level designs are clumsy, it is still undeniably stress relieving for me to wreak havoc and become a violent monster in the game. I'm actually hesitant to write down some of the vile things that you are capable of doing and I myself have done in the game in a public website like this. It's some pretty sick stuff... even for a video game.

  4. I like my senseless violence as much as the next person, but this game takes it to a place that I would rather not explore. I have played my share of violent video games. I especially loved Halo and GTA. But being able to hack a dead body into tiny pieces never really appealed to me. Who does it appeal to? And what I want to know is who decided to make it possible for players to do that? does it really add that much to the game? I just really dont get it.
    I also do not see how this could be a critique on society. I guess there are a hand full of people who could possible do the things you do in the game, but that cant be used to generalize us as a society. Ya people can be pretty shitty at times, but I think Postal 2 is more of a mindless game with no direction instead of a caricature of America.

  5. Believe it or not, there is much in Postal that is common place in video games nowadays. Perhaps some of you have played Fallout 3 or New Vegas—games that have been nominated for Game of the Year by many gaming review sources. In them, you can cut innocent bystanders to pieces with a butcher knife, or bust heads with a golf club in far better detail than in Postal. The big difference is that this is not the point of the game, rather a feature to allow for a greater “sandbox” feel where you get to create your own experience. You can be a Good Samaritan or a bloodthirsty psychopath and only your save file will know what path you chose. I might add there is a perk you can acquire that causes characters to explode albeit laughably into gory piece when you shoot or punch them. It just goes to show how game developers define their target market.

    Well, there are a few things you can’t do in the above mainstream games that you can in Postal, such as urinating on your victims. This is likely the line that was drawn by the developers at Bethesda when deciding how much freedom to give their players.


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