On Nov. 23, a consortium of watchdog groups named its picks for the 10 most violent video games currently on the market, including Doom 3 and Mortal Kombat: Deception. Amid the ensuing hue and cry, few consumers paid attention to the titles that came in at the bottom of the list. Here they are for your perusal: the least violent video games money can buy.
Ultimate Librarian New-school joystick heroine Janet Moorehead has the razor-sharp intelligence of Lara Croft but a far more respectable wardrobe, making this quietly intense journey through the library stacks the ideal pursuit for fellas who wouldn't mind seeing the adolescent sexism of the gaming hobby go right out the window with its entertainment value. Though the objective of the game is to help Janet refile this week's returned volumes before time (and her pension fund) runs out, there's always the chance that she might have to "Ssssh!" a few Chatty Keiths and Kathies to get the job done. Reach the final level of this surprisingly realistic game, and a wise senior librarian pops up to teach Janet why her decades-long immersion in 1800s romance literature has whittled her real-life relationship options down to a nub.
PETA Frogger There's nothing cute or amusing about seeing a helpless animal go "splat!", yet it was that very possibility that endeared Frogger to the Beavises and Butt-heads of the Atari era, who could barely bother to pretend that they were interested in seeing the heroic amphibian cross the street safely. Sadism's out and compassion is in now that this PETA-approved reworking is available for all game platforms. The new version does away with the hurtling vehicles, the threat of a good flattening and even the highway itself. All that's left is a placid pond and the imperative to make your frog hop from one lily pad to another as slowly and deliberately as you desire. Landing in the exact center of a pad earns extra points in a game that prizes accuracy above lesser qualities like jeopardy and excitement. Hard-core Xbox junkies are advised that overshooting a pad by a country mile incurs no chance that your frog will drown. That's what being amphibious means, you GED-flunking bastard, you.
Grand Theft eBay Who needs full-throttle chases through the streets of San Andreas when you have this mildly stimulating, real-time simulation of an online auction?
Carefully fill out every last one of the required e-registration forms, submit a firm bid for the bauble of your dreams, then wait in heavy-lidded anticipation as the cutoff hour approaches the possibility growing all the while that an obsessive letter carrier from Schenectady might (gulp!) top your best offer! So where does the theft angle come in, you ask? Well, as an added wrinkle, there's always the "danger" that the grilled-cheese sandwich you're vying for doesn't really contain an image of the Virgin Mary, but rather Phyllis Diller circa Boy, Did I Get a Wrong Number! A soundtrack of down-tempo hits by Coldplay, Leonard Cohen and Morphine contributes to the atmosphere of low-impact rivalry.
The Sims: Quaker Life Here's your chance to hook up with the original Friends! Building on the popularity of previous versions set in suburban and big-city environments, the newest Sims project lets you construct an entire community predicated on the principles of pacifism, spiritual purity and mind-numbing boredom. Devise your all-Quaker cast by painstakingly apportioning the essential details of character who gets the black oxfords, who gets the brown then sit back and watch them walk those sensible shoes into lives of divine simplicity. But don't think for a minute that "simple" means "bereft of surprises." By assiduously observing the daily interaction of your virtual proxies, you'll learn that the Quakers really aren't a peaceful people by nature; it's just that sitting stock-still in a wooden pew throughout an entire four-hour church service can suck the homicidal energies out of anybody.
Championship Badminton 2005 Serve! Smash! Rally! Make it stop before I open a vein!
Tofu Time The 1982 arcade game BurgerTime may not have seemed violent back in the day, but we now know that its outwardly innocent scenario of fast-food preparation was an insidious sop to carnivores an irresponsible orgy of dead-animal consumption that was wholly complicit in the murder that is meat. The updated home-play version eliminates the blood-lust angle entirely, with vegan chef Macrobiotic Mike striving to assemble a guilt-free burger consisting of a meatless patty, nine-grain bun, sun-dried tomato slices and (of course) sprouts. Help him get the job done in record time while protecting him from the infernal meddling of his arch foes, Mr. Porterhouse, Mr. T-Bone and Mr. Ted Nugent On The Rampage With A Loaded Twelve-Gauge.
Final Fallacy IV The last word in hip self-reference, this meta-adventure has players posing as members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, Mothers Against Violence in America and other groups that contributed to the "10 worst games" report. March the pixilated little busybodies from think-tank research sessions to protest rallies, as they labor under the mass delusion that red-blooded American kids will actually evince a nanosecond's worth of interest in games where you don't get to burn and snuff somebody. Comes with a coupon entitling the bearer to $2 off any movie that features an exploding helicopter.