I got my start with Storytron, it was my first real trip into professional development, and let me tell you, I´ve seen this thing delayed more times than the Bush administration lied. Wait, let me tabulate that... no nevermind, Storytron was delayed roughly thirty times and the Bush administration lied over 900 times, but you get the idea. I´m happy to say that Chris Crawford has finally delivered, and the great messianic engine bears its promises with grace.
Balance of Power: 21st Century
The Return of The King
|Submitted by the99th on Fri, 03/27/2009 - 00:40.|
You Has Not Approvals Of The Peoples
|Submitted by the99th on Fri, 02/13/2009 - 14:09.|
I found this unassuming little bag of assumptions playing along in the Microsoft set at Games for Change, with the 360 controls awkwardly bounding what works just fine with a mouse. City Rain is not a game about the enviro-economic benefits of rainwater capture, but rather, about blocks of city raining down in a Tetris/Sim City tango. I´m all about South American developers, and I could tell from the narrator´s Scandanavian-with-a-twist-of-lime accent that this was from either the Southern Cone or Brazil. It´s won a bunch of awards, and now has a downloadable delux version available for purchase.
The Bailout Game
Because Money Is A Hallucination That Enslaves You
|Submitted by the99th on Thu, 01/22/2009 - 00:53.|
A few commentators sum this one up well:
"What an awful game. Slowly make arbitrary choices about contentious issues in a way that has nothing but an opaque relationship to the outcome of the game."
- Metafilter Commentator A
"What an awful game. Slowly make arbitrary choices about contentious issues in a way that has nothing but an opaque relationship to the outcome of the game.
Just like the real bailout! However, ironic statements and fun games don't always coincide."
- Metafilter Commentator B
"It's games like this that make me wonder if I should give up tracking them entirely."
- Ian Bogost
All that said, this game executes really well on style, with banjo music and over-the-top satirical writing delivering a vaguely punk take on the whole cluster-fuck. The gameplay suffers from too much simplicity and mechanical opacity. I don´t like a game to tell me "bad idea" when I make a choice to let a whole sector fail; just because my strategy goes counter to the designer´s particular ideology doesn't mean the game should overtly punish it. Or if it does, it should do so in a way that's elegant and consistent with some underlying algorithm. Mathematical feedback loops can be much more persuasive than direct textual admonishment, a lesson these guys don´t seem to have considered, or perhaps rejected in favor of an easier press-package. The game has done quite well in the regard, as a quick search will reveal.
It's worth a few minutes, but don't let it fool you into thinking that a rich, subtle, multifaceted take on the current collapse of Ponzi capitalism isn't possible. If anything, this game reinforces what Jonathan Blow said, that we need to abandon the message-as-meaning model if we´re going to fully utilize game design. That said, it's ok to load your subtext with a twisted style that tastes of delicate bias. Cases in point, Oligopoly and Raid Gaza!
Valid While Supplies Last
|Submitted by the99th on Wed, 11/19/2008 - 00:22.|
He's done it again, Paolo Pedercini has made a fun, polished, punk-positive satire, but this time instead of focusing on a particular industry or scandal, he's taking a broad-view of a world economy driven and chained by oil. In Oiligarchy you play the CEO of an international oil company, drilling your way to riches and dominance. I've been looking forward to this game since Paolo mentioned it to me at Games for Change in June, he told me "the better you are at the game, the worse you'll do."
We We´re Going, We Won´t Need Roads
|Submitted by the99th on Fri, 10/10/2008 - 17:10.|
World Without Oil clued me in to the realities of fossil fuel scarcity and sent me down a rabbit hole (catalyzed by the Ron Paul campaign) that lead me to understand macro-economics in the tradition of those who claim to understand quantum physics. A game inspired me to do a graduate degree´s worth of research, then lose a bunch of money in the markets by way of understanding, then do another graduate degree´s worth of research into alternative energy to come up with a viable (and game-like) solution to the global financial and energy crisis. More on that later. The point is, I´m just someone who surfs the internet a lot, and if World Without Oil could inspire me to invent a solution to near-term problems, then Superstruct might as well inspire the lot of us to solve the much more interesting and challenging problems of the longer term.
Freedom Isn't Free, But This Game Is
|Submitted by the99th on Mon, 09/29/2008 - 00:43.|
The first thing I thought was "what are those, ninjas?" It turns out, there were not ninjas.
When I first heard of Muslim Massacre I figured I'd pass. It was only after Danny sent me a link, in light of his parley with the creator, that I decided to give it a serious look. The game is dank, addicting, well crafted in its Robotronic glee.
You Can't Spell "Culture" Without "Cult"
|Submitted by the99th on Fri, 09/26/2008 - 00:09.|
The Free Culture Game is not up to the standards of Paolo's usual propaganda, but the angle of this particular piece kinda puts you in a meta-statement mood regarding the analysis of games as propaganda, otherwise persuasive, and how games about markets and social systems can sometimes also be about games in general, both phenomenologically and in terms of the metaphysical boundaries of what games can be.
Revolution In The Abstract
|Submitted by the99th on Wed, 08/13/2008 - 01:51.|
Chain Factor is a manifesto expressed as a puzzle Flash game -- like all previous manifestos but explicitly so. It's move mechanic involves matching a numbered tile with a row or column that has the same number of other tiles, a very metagram mechanic. Your nouns and verbs must match, which then eliminates the nouns in a zen embrace.
Not To Be Confused With Guitar Hero
|Submitted by rinkuhero on Sat, 07/05/2008 - 00:02.|
Budget Hero is a game about the US Federal budget. In the game, you raise and lower the budget by cutting or funding particular programs (in the form of cards), and your aim is to reach a budget that matches your values. For instance, if you tell it that you value education, and spend a lot of money on education, you're self-consistent enough to get the education badge.
Fuck The Police - Peacefully
|Submitted by the99th on Wed, 05/14/2008 - 04:40.|
In the tradition of Flash mobs (which are going to be tracked by the NSA and headed off at the pass, going into the future) and Ghandi (dead) comes Police Brutality, a game by Jason Rohrer that explores how vocal dissent can disrupt police's efforts to taze people. The game has you, as the lone leader, shouting. As you do, other people are galvanized, and become available to shout, or move, blocking police. The goal is to prevent anyone from being evicted from the premises; you achieve this by playing the numbers of the crowd against the lesser numbers of police, divide and deter.