Let’s get serious for a minute here. No matter how old some people are, natural bodily functions are going to prompt certain reactions. There are a wide range of fart jokes, for example, that are carried out across multiple levels and delivered in different ways in comedies. This crassness could mean people with different senses of humor could all find it funny. (For example, Shakespeare plays like Much Ado About Nothing and Romeo and Juliet are filled with crude humor and puns.) Naturally, we’re going to see this happen in video games too. Also, because such things are so goofy, sometimes relatable and occasionally unnecessary, they’re going to get people talking.
Which is why, after gamescom 2019’s opening media events, tons of people were talking about peeing in Death Stranding.
Yes, urinating is a gameplay mechanic in Death Stranding. As Sam explores the world, he will fill up. You then can have the opportunity to stop and pee. (It recommends doing so in a deserted area and not around people’s stuff.) You can control the direction, using it as a weapon or attempting to “water” a specific spot. You never actually see anything, aside from what looks like an incredibly powerful stream.
When it is done, it will have an effect on the world. If you are connected online and with other people, and all of these people attempt to pee in the same spot, supposedly something will happen. In the gamescom 2019 footage, a mushroom grew. It’s weird. It’s incredibly, totally weird. Yet, because it is, it has amused some, made others want to try it and, most importantly, gotten people talking about the game.
The thing is, it isn’t new. It’s a shock mechanic that is intended to either amuse people, get them talking or both. It is working for Death Stranding, and it has worked for other games too. For example, both Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Red Dead Redemption 2 have horses that occasionally poop. Because, you know, that’s what horses do. In the former, you can press a button to make a horse poop. These have a practical use, as they can make a jeep behind the horse spin out. In the latter, it is in there for the sake of realism. Just like Death Stranding, these got people talking.
Then, there’s Yakuza Kiwami 2. In Japan, Sega introduced Toylet interactive urinal systems above the fixtures. When a person pees, the direction and strength of the stream can be used to play minigames. (There were even high scores.) These appear in the bathrooms in this Yakuza game. You can actually have Kazuma Kiryu head over to a urinal and play a virtual version of one of these real-world minigames. It’s incredibly unique and rather funny. Plus, it offered insight into something people might have actually seen in Japan. Not to mention, it was as attention-getting as the other gameplay elements mentioned here.
Natural body functions are a fact of life, and that means we’re going to keep seeing them appear in games. Sometimes, that results in incidental actions like animals pooping. It could mean a developer making peeing a gameplay mechanic. Aside from them still somehow finding a place, another thing we can count on are such elements getting attention. People are going to point and critique or laugh, and this is a situation where any attention is “good” attention.