Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Yes, Well, There's A Reason For This...

There has been an increasing effort by some game-makers to address more substantial topics and themes. Last year's Papers, Please is a bleak yet affecting study of the lives of a series of would-be immigrants who must convince the player, a border control agent for a fictional 1980s eastern block nation, to grant them passage. At one point in the game, an elderly man approaches your booth. His papers are in order but, before he passes through, he pleads that you also let his wife into the country, even though she doesn't have the correct documentation. She is next in line. You are free to choose: uphold bureaucracy or keep the family together?
Cart Life is an equally effective study of contemporary life in America on the poverty line. As you scrape a living, selling coffee or newspapers, you begin to feel the grim pain of systemic unfairness and economic failure. The sense of injustice when one character is evicted from his motel room for keeping a cat is devastating. These examples are potent, but it remains rare that a video game's story is discussed seriously in artistic terms.
Games are meant to be fun. Do these sound like fun? Except, of course, to a 'Guardian' writer?

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well, "Papers Please" is set in the kind of totalitarian dump the Guardian would like to turn the place into, so...

Anonymous said...

"Papers Please" was quite interesting actually, it's just a biased write-up (shock!) focusing on one aspect. Not sure about the other one, as I've not played it and it does sound like it was created with a bit of an agenda ;)

lovegoats said...

'Papers Please' is hilarious. I love breaking up families and sniffing out terrorists. I've never encountered any of these moral dilemmas referred to.

Anonymous said...

I suppose a grauniadista would buy the game to impress fellow sensitive souls who may happen to drop by, but I doubt anyone could play it more than once without a gun at the head.

The Stigler said...

actually, I've heard good things about Papers Please. It's a puzzle game where you have to figure out whether someone is legitimate or not using the information available.

Of course, The Guardian will leap onto this with their various Social Justice Bleuurrggh rather than as a reflection of the growth of independent game development that app stores and Steam have given us.

Anonymous said...

I suppose, if the Grauniad is so keen on the feel-bad factor, that my 'Victim of incestuous abuse' app might yet get a positive review.

Spin the wheel. Oh no! Mum's going shopping without you for a few hours! Bonus spin - will your auntie believe your story?

Or how about ATOS Armageddon? Referee a soccer match, but watch out for that lens behind the bushes!

Bedroom Tax Bedlam - can you hide the cannabis growing paraphernalia and make it look like a child's room before the inspector arrives?

Vulnerable virgin - escape from the care home to see Khan at the kebab shop - but watch out for his magic potion!

Furor Teutonicus said...

"Papers PLEASE"!!!???

WHAT is with the "please"?

Shower of do gooding bastards!

It is an ORDER, NOT a request!

Ian B said...

"Monopoly" was originally invented by a Georgist to illustrate the mechanism and unfairness of land rental. Fact.

All those times as a kid you played it and after the hours of play, felt miserable because your big sister got all the money again? It's designed to make you feel that way.

James Higham said...

uphold bureaucracy or keep the family together?

Throw her in prison?

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX All those times as a kid you played it and after the hours of play, felt miserable because your big sister got all the money again? It's designed to make you feel that way. XX

You can be a looser, or you can fight to win.

If you win FUCK the loosers.

Anonymous said...

Bunny

I can imagine your average 15 year old given the opportunity, saying hmm Zombie Kill 42 or Cartland? Zombie Kill then.

Jack Savage said...

I remember how much excitement this generated amongst dedicated gamers..

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/hottopics/climatechange/climate_challenge/aboutgame.shtml

Bwahahahahaha!

Twenty_Rothmans said...

@Furor
If you win FUCK the loosers.(sic)

The Russkies did that, and we gave away 1/4 of Germany in perpetuity and sold the rest of Eastern Europe plus 1/3 of Germany into glorious Soviet abundance for 45 years.

So not only did they get nuts-deep into the prettiest German women, they nicked all the scientists the West couldn't get, raided the museums, including the Bronze Age relics of Halberstadt or whatever it was - which they still have - plundered everything they could and still moaned about their glorious fallen dead, more than likely some Mongolian shot by a commissar.

These peasants had been slaughtering Poles, then begging for old Hurricanes and leftover bread. We should have assembled the most ingenious, ruthless Germans (never hard to find!) and gone after those boneheaded, simple Slavs.

We should have been delivering Lancasters and Spitfires to Berlin, all wrapped in nice pretty paper and with maps of the Eastern Front and with instruments calibrated in kmh as befits these fucking Europeans who can't get their heads around units they cannot count on their fingers, with a note saying "Your boss is a twat, but we like you because your uniforms are the best and you like beer and hardcore porn, so assassinate that skinny shaking vegan Austrian eunuch and jetzt geht's los!"

"Let me measure your head dimensions" was popular in Germany for a while, but alas, "How pure was your grandfather?" was a fictitious Austrian gameshow dreamt up by Comedy Strip Presents in the 1990s, resurrected as Who Do You Think You Are? twenty years later.

Furor Teutonicus said...

Twenty Rothmans (Can not get Rothmans here :-( ) Totaly agree with you.

I was talking about monopoly, Ludo, snap, poker, etc not world politics.

But even then, if they have not given their all, then....

Germany DID give its "all."

And WE were not sore "loosers." However the Brits appear to be sore "winners."

Anonymous said...

Aww. 3rd time looky furor?

JuliaM said...

"'Papers Please' is hilarious. I love breaking up families and sniffing out terrorists."

Rather like people who bought 'The Sims' to practice serial killing..? ;)

"actually, I've heard good things about Papers Please. It's a puzzle game where you have to figure out whether someone is legitimate or not using the information available."

It sounds a bit too much like a training exercise for the UKBF to me.

Does it simulate computer failure and angry queues at Gatwick..? :D

"Or how about ATOS Armageddon? Referee a soccer match, but watch out for that lens behind the bushes!"

ROFL!

JuliaM said...

" It's designed to make you feel that way."

That always made me want to get my revenge...

"I remember how much excitement this generated amongst dedicated gamers.."

Heh! Wasn't there a 'love the EU' type game a few years ago too?