''Police Quest: Open Season'' shows life on LAPD -- Retired LA police chief Daryl F. Gates says game is realistic

By George Mannes
Updated July 28, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

On a sunny summer morning, Daryl F. Gates is back on the job. Only now the retired Los Angeles police chief isn’t cruising through South Central. He’s sitting at a computer in a Manhattan hotel conference room working Police Quest: Open Season, a 1993 computer role-playing game which has just been rereleased on CD-ROM as part of Sierra On-Line’s Daryl F. Gates’ Police Quest Collection: The Four Most Wanted.

Gates, 68, who has complained about inaccurate portrayals of the LAPD by the media, boasts about Open Season‘s realism. The Short Stop bar visited by game protagonist Det. John Carey, he says, is an actual hangout popular with L.A. cops. The elevators at the force’s downtown headquarters are as numbingly slow as they are in the game. And, just as Carey spends most of his time talking to other characters in the game, everyday police work is ”a laborious, difficult process,” Gates says, not ”flashy and shoot-’em-up.”

Gates navigates through Open Season with cheerful incompetence. Though listed as ”author” in the credits, he admits he’s not much of a gamer. As he fumbles with his mouse, it’s hard to believe that this soft-spoken man is the same person who could enrage Angelenos with comments they perceived as insensitive — long before the Rodney King beating and the L.A. riots really put him in the hot seat.

Then again, it’s not that big a stretch. To get through one scene in Open Season, the player controlling Carey has to click on the head, back, or legs of a female reporter to push her out of the way. Gates aims his hand-shaped icon directly at the woman’s rear. ”About right there,” he says with a laugh. Then he chides his on-screen surrogate: ”Ooh, don’t do that, John.” Later, Gates plays a scene at the home of a slain officer. ”The real hard part is notifying the widow, and I’ve done that about five, six times,” he says. ”What you do is you knock on the door and you say, ‘Is this the widow Brown?”’ Gates chuckles. ”No, you don’t do that.”

Ooh, you’re right, Daryl. Don’t do that.