Monday, March 14, 2005

GDC 2005: Serious Games Summit - A Force More Powerful

Case Study: A Force More Powerful
Doug Whatley

Breakaway Games was contracted by a non-profit to build a game that will be used to teach non-violent overthrow of dictatorships. With this very real, very important application, A Force More Powerful strikes me as perhaps the most ambitious application of game design and technology that I have seen. The presentation left something to be desired, as it was difficult to get a handle on what they had built. Such a complex system takes some time to fully grasp. Fortunately, I got a chance to hang out with one of the designers, who gave me a more in-depth tour of the current build.

It's essentially a turn-based strategy game in which only non-violent tactics are supported (though violent outcomes are common if the player doesn't prepare well enough). Underlying the game is a powerful simulation, modelling an economy, the media, religion, a political system, and so on. A scenario editor will allow trainers to customize situations to match real-world places and events. The point is to educate strategic planners about the planning and groundwork that must be laid before any kind of non-violent overthrow can happen. To ensure realism, Breakaway has involved people from Serbia and other areas, who have been involved in actual coups. I can't wait to see what happens with this.


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