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What's the


PlayStation's new Buzz! The Hollywood Quiz has been deemed the gayest game ever by some gaming critics. Kyle Buchanan and a group of gay friends decide to test the theory

Despite the demographic-busting success of the Nintendo Wii, video gaming can still feel like a man's world -- and a straight man's, at that. Aside from options in games like The Sims and Bully, gay characters are almost wholly absent from video games, and the homophobic patter heard on Xbox Live is reason enough to think that won't change anytime soon. Still, as websites like the indispensable Gay Gamer do their part to nudge queer gamers out of the closet, are there any games coming out that at least include a gay sensibility?

I hadn't thought so until Gay Gamer lavished praise on Buzz! The Hollywood Quiz (PlayStation 2), calling it "the gayest party game ever." The latest in a series of casual trivia games, this Buzz! installment focuses on film, peppering up to eight players with questions both easy and difficult (if you're at all well-versed in movies, you'll want to play at the "Film Fanatic" difficulty level). Eschewing the typical PS2 controller, Buzz! ships with a one-handed buzzer covered in brightly colored buttons -- clearly a ploy to attract the casual audience burned out by complicated video games.

But is it gay? To find out, I invited a bunch of gay friends over, plied them with beer, and handed them each a Buzz! controller. We were all primed to expect some subtly gay trivia (the Gay Gamer review cites one such query about the color of Elizabeth Taylor's eyes), but our initial play-through yielded nothing along those lines, other than the game's computerized host dubbing Player 2's showing to be "fabulous." In fact, other than a rare question about Barbra Streisand, we were answering questions about war movies, fratty comedies, and Dolph Lundgren (incidentally, fully two thirds of the answers in the latter category were Universal Soldier. Time to find a new agent, Dolph).

Though the questions were often well-constructed (the game boasts 5,000, and a memory card will insure you're not asked the same question twice), the presentation was the game's biggest failing. Its poor pacing, with long load times and unskippable segues between games, means you're likely to spend more time watching Buzz! than playing it. Much of that time will be spent in the company of computerized host Buzz, whose patter is so corny (and repeated so often) that it prompted groans and head-shaking from my friends. "Goddamn, he's so lame," growled my friend James. The only intentional laugh the game got was when we learned we could (mercifully) skip the explanations from show assistant Rose, prompting her to cross her arms and pout.

Buzz! is the sort of game that demands a big group of players (the single-player mode lacks variety, and certain multiplayer rounds fall flat unless you have more than two players), so it's a shame that its frequent lapses caused us to lose our -- well, buzz. With a tighter, quicker presentation and better banter, we'd take a second look, but until then, Buzz! The Hollywood Quiz stands no chance of becoming our gay party staple.

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Kyle Buchanan