Pwning: Forumwarz

Well ok, perhaps pwning isn't entirely accurate, it's more like playing but I'm just getting into the spirit of the thing.

Forumwarz is an online role-playing game (RPG) that is set in the modern world of Internet forums, with all the associated depravity, leet-speak, clannishness, juvenile behaviour, flaming and whatnot.

I've generally veered well away from the RPG genre in the past because for the most part it seems to revolve around the fantasy/wizards&warriors/dungeons&dragons/warcraft world that I've never really gotten into. (I don't mind fantasy movies - particularly the golden age of them in the 80s and of course the LOTR trilogy - but all in all it just seems a little silly.)

Forumwarz however brings the funny to the RPG genre by mercilessly and outrageously skewering pretty well all the elements of online culture.

You can play as one of three types of online archetypes, making use of your various powers in a range of ways. You can be either a Troll (someone who generally just enjoys being an arsehole to people online with provocative/offensive remarks), an Emo (modern day Goths essentially but angrier and more emotional - these guys tend to whine incessently) or a Camwhore (cute girls who make use of their sexuality to get what they want).

I'm a troll. (Incidentally, I played a Troll in my first dramatic role - a kindergarten production of the 3 billygoats gruff - so i think I know a thing or two about being a troll :)

Gameplay involves a series of missions which increase in difficulty and require you to use your powers to kill discussions in web forums. (Or fora if you prefer to be grammatically correct).

As you progress, you accumulate experience, cred, skills and items which allow you take on tougher and more offensive opponents and keep you engaged by regularly ringing the little "rewards" bell in your brain.

Forum battles involve making an initial comment and then seeing how much damage this does to the board and how much damage the response does to you. You don't type the words as such but rather choose from a selection of attacks - as a troll I have the option to bang my head against my keyboard, post offensive ASCII art, post spoilers, make Yo'Mama jokes and now post bad poetry.

As a Troll (I haven't played as the other classes - yet) I have a supply of ego and a supply of douchebaggery that I need to monitor during the battle to survive - fortunately these can be topped up by buying supplies between battles from the online pharmacy drugs-r-fun (happidex and viagrow) and dodgy dealers under the bridge (anything from nutmeg to a keg of malt liquor). You can also buy dodgy home-made steroids from a jock "friend" or get Bruce the Bear to fix your computer when it takes damage.

It's worth noting that a lot of the content in this game goes out of it's way to mirror the ridiculously offensive stuff that you can find if you trawl the web long enough and before you can join the game you have to type in a disclaimer stating that you are not easily offended.

So far I've battled white supremacists, fecalphiliacs, deathmetal headbangers and furries (fetishests who dress up in animal costumes) and it gets out there - but that said, a lot of the dialogue is community generated and very effectively and humourously skewers the comments of the range of online nutbags.

The game also uses a mock instant messaging client, a mock email system and a mock search engine to progress the story, which quickly sees you enmeshed in a weird conspiracy which may or may not be driven by shadowy govt forces set on dispersing evil code to infiltrate web user's computers.

The game has some artificial gameplay limits - you can only attack four forums a day (you can go back and repwn old fora if you wish to increase your experience and cred - which results in random presents from strangers). The limits are designed to encourage donations to the game makers to support the site (these donations buy you cheats) but I like the limits as it means that you don't get stuck in the game for too long.

I highly recommend this game - but you might want to be mindful of who might wander past your computer as you are playing it - forum titles such as Fitness Faggotry, That's a lot of feces, Konservative Kristian Koalition and Headbangers Hellhole... of Death might give people the wrong idea about your normal browsing habits :)