This Heat.net Ad Is Terrifyingly Violent

Heat.net

In GamePro #102, the above two-page ad appeared for online game service Heat.net. There’s a particularly terrifying piece of text on the right hand side of the ad, which I’ve enlarged for clarity:

Heat.net

This quote stuns me every single time I re-read it. I mean, I can’t be the only one who thinks it’s completely absurd that this made it to print, right?

Heat.net was an online multiplayer gaming platform developed by SegaSoft, Sega’s PC division. It allowed players to connect to one another and play multiplayer games like Quake II over the Internet, which was pretty amazing at the time, even if we take that sort of functionality completely for granted nowadays. In fact, the service was innovative and polished enough that it received the 1997 Market Engineering Product Award from consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.

The ad I’ve posted above claims Heat.net was “the only fighting game on the Internet,” which makes the website a pretty important piece of gaming history. It could very well mark the first time fighting game fans could duke it out online. (I haven’t been able to find an earlier example, but I’m always willing to update this article if I’m proven wrong.)

Still, while the idea of online fighting games is pretty great (I admit to having spent an absurd amount of time getting my ass kicked in Marvel vs. Capcom 3), the GamePro ad pushes the envelope a little too far. After all, we’ve spent decades trying to get rid of the “video game violence is at the root of real-life violence” stigma, and this reinforces that.

To put this into context, this ad ran in the January 1998 issue of GamePro, which means it probably went to print in the final months of 1997. This was almost a year and a half before the Columbine massacre would shake Americans to the core in April of 1999. While this was not the first school shooting to ever happen (Wikipedia lists such events dating back to the late 1800s), it was the one that ramped up our national sensitivity toward these sorts of mindless acts of violence. Before Columbine, the extremely dark humor of an ad like Heat.net’s wouldn’t be taken as seriously as it would be today.

Still, it’s hard to deny that this ad crosses some lines, and even in 1997/1998, a copy editor should have probably challenged this.

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