Oh, the glamour of the journalist lifestyle. No one can resist the siren call of gravely voices squawking about deadlines, and the sweaty smell of un-showered chain smokers. But as The Coop Times so aptly puts it, before you start dreamin’ that journalism dream, “lemme give you some pointers there hotshot, because it’s not half so glamorous as the silver screen makes it out to be.”
I always enjoy a videogame description that sounds like it was written by an over-caffeinated, sleep-deprived, drunk Don Draper hopped up on speed. And that’s basically the kind of material The Coop Times produces from its players. In the fast-paced world of gritty journalism, your avatar feels the fire under his butt as he desperately tries to meet all his deadlines.
“The deadlines,” the game’s description reads, “good lord the deadlines are always pressing down. Always. They press and they press and just when you get to feel like you’re gonna die if they squeeze you any tighter, they press some more. You got no choice but to pull through on some lousy last second article on who wore what to which race, ’cause that’s livin’. Hell, that’s probably why they CALL us the press! Haha.”
While you might assume the above writer had jumped out a window shortly after rattling off this monologue, we instead find him sitting behind his typewriter at The Daily Coop’s offices, shoulders hunched in the traditional battle stance of the journo fighting back deadlines. After receiving a nonsensical sentence-long prompt for your next assignment, you must spin the boring puff-piece facts provided into Pulitzer-prize winning gold.
Well, okay, the game probably won’t need Pulitzer-prize winning material. But you will need you to remember the “factual” (using that term loosely, here) details of your prompt, as well as incorporate any spin dictated by your editor (like being controversial). Oh, and you can’t curse. Which, incidentally, was exactly what did me in a few times at The Daily Coop (those bastards!)
A deadline bar slowly inches down your screen, pressing down on your words as you try to fluff up a single sentence of information into five lines of text. Though The Coop Times purports the cut-throat attitude of old timey journalism, the actual game system seems more lenient. You can get away with quite a few typos (since there’s no backspace) and, of course, sentence structure and grammar are pretty loosely followed. But I suppose it must be your “soulsucking editors” job to iron out the details.
In the end, my articles usually garnered a favorable responses from said soulsucking editor, who showered me with tolerating compliments about my passable mediocrity. I was glowing with pride when he/she awarded me all that high praise, commending me for “at the very least [managing] to write about the topic we assigned you.” You know, thIS journalism stuff might be a rough game, but at the very least it comes with its just rewards.
In all seriousness, it was truly a fun exercise, free-writing these ridiculous articles, my only goals being 1) to make myself laugh and, 2) to keep within the constrains of the prompt. I mean, when the hell else am I ever going to have the opportunity to write a headline that reads “‘NARWHAL TUSKS CURE CANCER, MAKEs YOUR DICK HARD” and “MAN IS WORST HUMAN BEING ALIVE, KILLS CHILDHOOD FOR EVERYONE.”
In fact, I felt so inspired that I ran these hard-hitting stories by my own editor at Kill Screen. Unsurprisingly, the soulsucking leech shot them all down, under the bogus accusations that they “weren’t real journalism” and “not about reality.” Pfffft. That’s the system for yah, kid. Go figure.
You can play The Coop Times for free on any browser, and even check out the ever-expanding news-roll of other players’ best work. Be sure to follow creator Adam Carr on Twitter, and watch out for some of his bigger projects with 2 Hit Studio.