The following is a transcript of an exchange between Gus Mastrapa and his mother that originally appeared on Robotstreetgang. We are reprinting it on Unwinnable to celebrate the release of Manhunt on PSN this week. To preserve the integrity and gritty realism of the dialogue, no edits have been made.
G.M.: Mom, we need to talk.
Mom: Is it about your father again? I told you, I thought you two were wrestling all those years. Honest I did.
G.M.: No. Jesus, Mom. It’s not about that. I just want you to play a videogame.
Mom: Oh, that’s a relief.
G.M.: So, you’ll play?
Mom: You know I don’t like playing your games.
Yes, Mom. It’s a real Glock 9-millimeter pistol and it’s loaded.
G.M.: I know, Mom. That’s why I need you to play it.
Mom: Oh. I don’t know.
G.M.: I need your help. I’m going to write a story about it.
Mom: Can’t you get someone else to do it?
G.M.: No, Mom. It has to be you.
Mom: I don’t think so, Honey. How about I just watch?
G.M.: Okay, Mom. Maybe this will make you change your mind.
Mom: Oh my! Is that real?
G.M.: Yes, Mom. It’s a real Glock 9-millimeter pistol and it’s loaded.
Mom: Why are you pointing it at me?
G.M.: Because I need you to play this game. It’s called Manhunt and it’s by Rockstar, the same people who made Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
G.M.: You’ve heard of Grand Theft Auto, right?
Mom: You know me. I don’t keep up with all the things on the T.V.
Mom: I thought I raised you better than this.
G.M.: You did, Mom. But in order to write a story about what may be one of the most gritty, realistic and violent videogames ever made, I have to do something that will grab people’s attention.
Mom: I see…
Mom: How about I make you a nice costume or something?
G.M.: That’s not good enough.
Mom: You looked so cute as Ms. Pac Man that Halloween.
G.M.: Mom. No. Please just play along and nobody will get hurt. Okay?
Mom: All right.
G.M.: Here’s the controller.
Mom: What are all these buttons for.
G.M.: Don’t worry about that yet. Just watch the game.
Mom: Watch? Aren’t I supposed to be doing something?
G.M.: Not, yet. Just watch.
Mom: Am I that lady?
G.M.: She’s a newscaster. You’re the guy being executed.
Mom: Oh. Is the game over already?
G.M.: No, you’re not dead. A secret organization has faked your death. They’re going to film you fighting for your life and sell the footage as snuff films.
Mom: Okay….What’s snuff?
G.M.: It’s tape or film of people being murdered.
Mom: You see! I would have rather lived my entire life not knowing that snuffies existed.
Mom: Yeah. That’s why I don’t go to see movies anymore. They should make more movies about nice things. Like that Secondhand Tigers movie. Now, that was nice.
G.M.: Yes, Mom. Are you finished?
Mom: Yes. What now?
G.M.: You missed the whole explanation. There was a guy talking to you. He’s the ringmaster of this whole thing. Run forward by pushing the R1. This button right here.
Mom: Okay. I’m running.
G.M.: Go pick up that plastic bag.
Mom: I’m supposed to clean up litter?
G.M.: No, the bag is going to be a weapon.
Mom: Tsk. What’s that circle at the bottom for?
G.M.: That’s your radar. It tells you where your enemies are and which way they’re facing.
Mom: The little man has a radar?
G.M.: Well, sort of.
Mom: Couldn’t I just hit the bad guys over the head with my radar machine?
G.M.: You don’t have a radar machine. Your guy just knows where the enemies are and which way they’re facing.
Mom: Oh. So my man is psychic or something?
G.M.: No, mom! He’s not psychic! He just knows. It’s the game designer’s way of making up for the fact that you’re not really in the game.
Mom: Hmm. It’s not really very realistic then. Is it?
G.M.: I guess not, Mom. Let’s just move on.
Mom: Your gun is pointing towards the ground.
G.M.: Oh. Thanks.
Mom: If you sat up straight the gun wouldn’t drift down like that.
G.M.: I know, Mom. Jeez. Can you just focus on the game?
Mom: Don’t get snippy with me, young man. I’ve been cooperative, haven’t I? I mean, I do my best to do things for you and your sister and sometimes I get the idea that you two take me for granted. Things haven’t been easy for me, you know. Sometimes a little respect is all…Honey! Don’t point that thing at your head! Point it back towards me. That’s better. I’m sorry, Gus. Don’t cry.
G.M.: Mom…(sniff) can we please just play the game so (sniff) so I can write my article.
Mom: Sure, honey. What do you want me to do?
G.M.: Walk towards that man.
Mom: Okay. Did he just say the “S” word?
G.M.: Yeah, he did.
Mom: You know how I feel about that kind of language.
G.M.: I know, Mom. That’s why I want you to kill him with your plastic bag.
Mom: You want me to kill the foul-mouthed man?
G.M.: Would you do it for me, Mom?
Mom: Sure, Honey. You know I’d do anything for you. Oh. It says the “F” word on the wall next to him.
G.M.: Yeah, Mom. It’s written in blood. Gross, huh?
Mom: Yeah. Did I ever tell you the story about how your father almost passed out at the hospital when he saw you getting stitches?
G.M.: About a million times.
Mom: Oh. He said “prick” this time.
G.M.: The only way for you to stop the cursing is to kill him.
Mom: Okay, I’m going to do it.
G.M.: Hit the button!
Mom: Oh, he’s hitting me.
G.M.: Fight back, Mom. Hit the “X” button.
Mom: Okay. I hit it.
G.M.: No. You have to hit it a bunch of times.
Mom: It says scene failed.
G.M.: Yeah, he killed you. Let’s try it again. Give me the controller.
G.M.: Okay. Take the controller. Sneak up on him and hit the “X” button.
Mom: I’m killing him!
G.M.: Yeah, Mom. You sure are.
Mom: Who’s filming me?
G.M.: Hidden cameras.
Mom: But how about that close-up? That camera was really close to me and at knee level.
Mom: You expect me to believe that there’s a camera hidden in the air right in front of me? You keep saying that this game is so realistic, but who was shooting that footage? It had static and those numbers on it like it was real video, but there’s no cameramen around to shoot the footage.
G.M.: I give up. This isn’t working. You’re supposed to be shocked and outraged, not so…so…critical.
Mom: Come back, Honey!
G.M.: No, Mom. You always do this.
Mom: You forgot your gun!
(footsteps and a door slamming)
This writing is a work of fiction. No similarities to mothers living or otherwise are intended. All imaginary gunplay was executed by professionals. Do not attempt this scenario at home. No mothers were hurt during the writing of this post. Please do not sue me. Pretension +1 is a weekly column about the intersections of life, culture and videogames. Follow Gus Mastrapa on Twitter @Triphibian.