As I mentioned last week, a recent King of the Hill episode tackled the theme of video game addiction. "Grand Theft Arlen" finds the master or propane and propane accessories, Hank Hill, becoming addicted to a new Grand Theft Auto style of video game built around the world of, well, propane and propane accessories. FOX.com has an episode summary in case you missed it.
Hank is horrified that Bobby is playing video games in P.E. instead of training for the Presidential Fitness Test. When Hank confronts Principal Moss, he meets the hipster gamers who have set up the alternative P.E. to test out their new games. Intrigued by Hank and his propane world, the gamers bother him with endless questions. When Hank discovers these guys have turned his life into a video game very similar to Grand Theft Auto but revolving around propane, he is furious. Unfortunately for Hank, Strickland wants him to play the game to get information so he can sue for video game royalties.
As Hank becomes more involved with the game, he pays less attention to Bobby and helping him train for the fitness test. Peggy discovers Hank's addiction to the game and when she is unsuccessful at having him quit cold turkey, she goes to the gamers for help. The gamers give Peggy the secret codes to being indestructible and end the game. Bobby doesn't pass his fitness test but Hank is happy he did so much better than the other video game kids.
The best part of this episode is the fictional game, Pro-Pain!. Players play as a character based on Hank Hill himself, and as players increase in rank (moving up the ladder from Employee to Assistant Manager to Manager to District Manager and beyond) the Hank character beefs up in stature. In-game weapons are all based on propane accessories, such as throwable propane tanks that explode on impact and propane-powered rocket launchers. Even the Strickland Propane slogan ("Taste the meat, not the heat") is warped into the game, becoming "Taste the meat and the heat!" whenever someone in-game is blown up.
At first Hank is horrified at the game's violent antics ("Oh god, I just stabbed a parking attendant! Where's the button to turn myself in?"), but eventually he becomes hooked on it, playing during working hours and after hours at home instead of drinking beer in the alley with the guys or helping Bobby train for the fitness test. As Hank's addiction grows, Peggy attempts to snap him out of it. First she convinces him to throw away the fancy new gamepad he bought by telling him that according to a magazine she read, men who buy lots of fancy electronics are known as "technosexuals". The allure of Pro-Pain! is strong, however, and before long Hank fishes the gamepad out of the trash can. It isn't until Peggy speaks with the game's designers and learns of the cheat code to enter Commissioner mode that she breaks Hank of his addiction by humiliating him in-game in front of the other players. While all in good fun, there was one line in the episode that is quite the backhanded slap towards game players. While coming to terms with Hank's problem, she tearfully tells him "I married a man, Hank. Not a... gamer!" Ouch, Peggy. Ouch.