Today in completely unsurprising news: the Black Eyed Peas and/or will.i.am, he of product-placement tangents everywhere, are developing a video game with Ubisoft. A dance game, that is. Just like Ubisoft’s Katy Perry-lifted The Smurfs Dance Party without the smurfs and “smurfs,” or Ubisoft’s Just Dance 2 without the multiple artists, or Dance Dance Revolution/Guitar Hero/Rock Band without the timeliness. This is definitely not some next-level shit.
Granted, the world of musician/videogame tie-ins is largely dismal. For every surprisingly OK game like 50 Cent’s Bulletproof and Blood on the Sand, there are about 50 pieces of shovelware dressed up with a celebrity name. And then there are a few WTFs: Fred Durst appearing as a hidden character in the Fight Club video game, presumably so people can let him get punched in the face, or Snoop Dogg doing the same in True Crime: Streets of LA while spouting quips, or the entirety of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker. (For the uninitiated, it plays kinda like this.)
So the expectations are lower. So what? We’re not saying casual games are worse than Serious Games that don’t land on iPhones (that’s a huge debate in gaming circles right now.) We’re definitely not saying games that involve pop music are bad, as that’d violate our site’s very existence. But this is just lazy, especially when gaming is coming into its own as a medium. When everyone from Kanye West to Lady Gaga to Jared Leto is throwing money at arty, involved films (or “visuals,” to use the worst terminology ever), and when every viral hit gets an equally viral chiptune joke within a few weeks (we like “Friday“), this is a major missed opportunity.
Which brings us to the Black Eyed Peas. We’re not sure what plot you could spin out of a Peas-themed game just going by their songs, except that it’d involve dancing, with a sidequest of hookups, shutting various places down, and other things that get games protested. But two things are certain: it would look and sound really good. BEP hardly invented futuristic visuals and dance-pop, but ever since The E.N.D. they certainly popularized them, to the point where big-name producers like Benny Blanco are throwing actual game sounds into Mike Posner songs. When the Peas’ songs suck, they suck hard (“My Humps”), but at their best, they’re cinematic, textured, and tiptoeing toward epic in a way that lends itself well to spectacle. And interactive spectacle is among the things gaming does best.
Seriously. Imagine you’re a game designer (fun, right? It’s the daily pastime of a lot of 13-year-old kids), close your eyes and listen to “Rock Your Body,” which we’ve embedded below. Ignore the lyrics if you must. The visuals create themselves, the action practically unfolds. The Peas agree–once you open your eyes and watch the video, it’ll probably look at least somewhat similar. Even if it doesn’t, it’ll look much better than a clone of Just Dance 2.