Have games ever told you to do this?

The good times are over. Capitalism has torn open the floodgates of economic chaos. Governments waterboard their people with austerity as tribute to unseen market demons. And just wars have never looked more unjust. Maybe the world is angry enough to craft games hewn from disaffection and fire. Are there any examples?

Jonas Kyratzes offered the reserved and text-heavy The Infinite Ocean, a room escape game arguably containing a political message. Originally released in 2003, The Infinite Ocean was recently refurbished and polished for a more receptive 2010 audience. It’s perhaps not as understated as I might like, but it is there and the game is better for it. Kyratzes has recently moved onto the Wikileaks Stories project with Gnome’s Lair, “where independent game designers use their artform in the service of freedom and democracy, transforming the information revealed by Wikileaks into computer games.”

Just last month, Increpare wrote Kettle in response to the British police using the “kettling” tactic to control student protests against tuition fee rises.

And here’s something else in development: Why I Want To Fuck Barack Obama from Quicksand Games. Plenty of NSFW imagery here. I can almost see the hand of Adam Curtis in this.

Using the late JG Ballard’s Why I Want To Fuck Ronald Reagan as its touchstone, the game targets celebrity politics where democracy is transformed into the worship of personality. The website hides a collection of documents purported to be from the future, containing bizarre gems such as: “In the 9th Year of his presidency, President Barack Hussein Obama attempted to inspire the remains of the nation by developing the ability to detach his head from his body.” I haven’t seen the game (although PlayThisThing did see an alpha build) so I’m yet to be convinced it will actually work.

But looking over this body of material, there’s a sense of a burgeoning Angry Young Game movement where games are the new protest. I don’t know whether any of these projects will change the world. But at least someone is trying.

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4 thoughts on “Angry Young Men

  1. This reminds me of when I was at a protest earlier this year with my girlfriend. People supporting various other causes besides the one central to the protest were there, such as the group trying to ban Call of Duty: Black Ops for including the assassination of Fidel Castro.

    I remember getting rid of the info sheet they handed me as soon as I could because I was so upset at the duplicity of a group that would want to ban a game for including something like that when I know that they don’t try to find one with a more responsible social messages in its stead. Not to mention the fact that no one clamors over banning Michael Bay’s Bad Boys movies despite their lack of due process.

    Not to say that there aren’t other reasons legitimate reasons people should avoid seeing them, much like CODBLOPS.

  2. There you go with those personal tangents again. You’d never catch me doing that, Sid.

    It is to my shame that I have never been part of any formal protest. I would’ve liked to have joined the anti-Iraq invasion march in London 2003, but I was still living in Tokyo at the time.

  3. Awh, Network now permanently reminds me of DJ Rubbish’s Armageddon sessions.

    Has anyone looked at the Nuovo nominees from the IGF awards? One of them is about the ascension of Iran’s first president, as seen through the eyes of his cat.

    As for protests, I went on enough of those as a child. My parents are the eternal protesters and actually went on that London 2003 march too.

  4. I suppose I should take some time out and have a look at the Nuovo nominees. Or maybe I’ll just wait until a winner is announced and still not play any of them.

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