Monday, March 14, 2005

GDC 2005: Serious Games Summit - Political/Activist Games

Political/Activist Games
Moderated by Ian Bogost

Another roundtable, this session turned towards questions of politics and activism in games and game design. My favorite part of the discussion centered on the idea of trojan-horsing political statements within commercial, entertainment games, rather than trying to make and sell overtly political games as activist statements in and of themselves. Oddworld was cited as a franchise that accomplishes this, conveying environmentalist views in the context of a popular entertainment experience. More compelling food for thought.


At 2:45 PM, Blogger Seg said...

Right off the top of my head, there are a few other games that fit the political/activist area:

The Bush GameSteer Madness(This year's IGF winner for Audio)Certainly more, but that's just a few I can think of off the top of my head.

I know I keep shamelessly bringing comments back to my game, but there was a turn of events that occurred while developing this title that has changed my game's perception without me making a conscious change. Antidote has centers around a 'non-lethal weapon' which puts suspects into a coma-like state and cured with an antidote when dragged into jail. The problem occurs when a researcher accidentally shoots himself with spin-off technology that has no known cure.

I go to Emerson College in Boston. I was completely done with the shooting script and game bible in the first week of October. Later that month, one of our students, Virgina Snellgrove, died after the Red Soxs beat the Yankees. She was shot with a beanbag gun, a 'non-lethal weapon.' It wasn't till about two days after that I realized the connection. It may be seen that my game was created in response to these events.

But what if they do? Let's take for example the movie Million Dollar Baby. Not to ruin the movie for you, but the ending places Frankie (Clint Eastwood) with a decision of weather or not to kill Maggie (Hilary Swank). Yes, the piece presents the question of euthanization, but presents all options of the troubling decision so that the actions of Frankie aren't seen as "This is what is right" but "This is Frankie's choice."

I think the idea of being political with gaming is just the same as other media. The only reason this is being seen as odd is a lack of realization that the media is the message, and that gaming is just another form of media. But I don't have time to get into Marshall McLuhan.

At 5:49 PM, Blogger Clubberjack said...

One of the concerns raised at this roundtable was that there's not much money for overtly political/activist games. While there are plenty of games out there that qualify as political or activist (Bush Game, Steer Madness, etc), I'm curious how they got funded in the first place.


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