J.R.R.Tolkien Does Vegas - The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle Earth
I have two kinds of friends: those who play video games and those who don't. So I was surprised to be invited to play The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle Earth by one of the non-games playing kind.
I was curious: I'm a hopeless video game addict who will play anything, but what could possibly have lured a man who “doesn't get Twitter” and thinks gaming is “time better spent talking to actual humans”?
I feared the worst. The recent rash of “free” games designed around the concept of milking money from the naïve addicts they carefully cultivate would target casual consumers like my friend. But this game was based on The Hobbit—a trusted and respected literary symbol of a more innocent age—surely there is no foul play here?
I remember when the Tolkien estate fiercely protected the works of John Ronald Reuel and for many years even Hollywood was rebuffed. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings remained safe from the cynical forces of marketing.
As I downloaded this iOS game I realised that this is clearly no longer the case. Following the success of the Peter Jackson's fine films, brand Tolkien now seems to be available to everyone who wants to squeeze some money out of fans of Middle Earth. Or as TH: KoMH developers Kabam put it on their corporate website:
“Kabam revolutionizes how core video game players access and pay for their entertainment.”
What is it Americans say about taking candy from babies?
I can't help but be disappointed by the widespread adoption of the Las Vegas marketing model that is spreading like a disease through the gaming industry. It seems even more vulgar when a respected intellectual property like Tolkien's Middle Earth is perverted to this commercial cause.
Insert your own pun about the Dwarfish obsession with gold if you like, but I think more pertinent is the underlying message of The Lord of the Rings; Man's short-sighted greed and industrialisation threatening the tranquility of the world.
The parallel and the irony is not lost on me.
Enough lamenting the death of ethical game development, I suppose I'd better attempt an unbiased review of this cynical corruption of a beloved work of fiction...
The Review: A Game of Progress Bars