Political games

I've got an email telling me there is a likely panel discussion on political games on the ABC program "Vulture" at 10pm tomorrow night. I gather it includes Street Survivor and Escape from Woomera.

I can't be definite I'm afraid, the TV guide just says

Hosted by Richard Fidler, Vulture offers up an entertaining mix of commentary and discussion on every aspect of art and culture in Australia and across the world.

But the people who the email came to me via are even more connected in this area than I am.

NB: I just changed the subject to Political Games as imho that fits the discussion better.

ScORCHo's picture

quite a horrible program....i cant think of anything worse than them discussing games.

lorien's picture

[:)] Never watched it. No idea who is on the panel.

ScORCHo's picture

just a bunch of snotty "Experts" on Art or Literature commenting on current culture events and offer opinions on whether they are "good" or not.
Except for Richard Fidler, he offers a bit of sarcastic comedy and doesn't seem to really care. :)

souri's picture

Hey, it's on right now [:0] Marcus Westbury from Nextwave / Freeplay is on the panel.

Ok, that didn't last very long. Seems like it was a bit rushed, being the last segment of the show. Street Survivor was barely touched on, Escape from Woomera was mentioned by name only, and there was some puzzling comments about games originating from the military and being a form of killing simulators. :/

Pretty obvious that some major misconceptions about games are still alive today.

LiveWire's picture

dang it i missed it. orgot about it and just rememebred now at 10:25. dosn't sound like i missed much though.

souri's picture

I've never seen Vulture before either, and it seems ScORCHo's warning was right on the dot.

CynicalFan's picture

quote:there was some puzzling comments about games originating from the military and being a form of killing simulators. :/

I think what she meant was that games like most of our technology, came about first due to military needs, and that military tech and development has been the driving force for much of our technology. For instance, the atomic energy was first developed as a weapon before it was practically developed as a power source. Another example ? and one they used on the show ? was that the Internet came about due to Military needs, where the tech was developed to have a network where if one node was destroyed due to an attack ? like in a nuclear strike ? then the rest of the network would keep on humming along.

Though I understand what she meant by her comments, I don?t understand why she brought it up in relation to games.

The only answer I come to is that it was meant to indicate how limited games were as an art-form compared to a form like film, to undermine its integrity, not so much as a remark about games being killing simulators. It is funny though, in that she also mentions that modern films are derived or inspired from military technology and developments ? I suppose she did not see the irony in her comments.

souri's picture

Well, she emphasized that games concentrated on players killing each other (and I'm sure she used the word simulator here) which prompted Marcus to say that there was a broad spectrum of games and game types. And yeh, that's what I meant by puzzling - why was it even brought up?

qwertyuiop's picture

Interesting to see the comments, talking to the researchers and other panelists made me realise that there is a huge gulf between people who play games and what people who don't imagine them to be. Still, was interesting to see a TV show have a serious go at having a discussion about the relevence/ significane/ etc of games and i had fun.


ScORCHo's picture

Well i planned to actually watch it....but got distracted by someting else. I thought there would be comments like that from the panel, single minded opinions gathered only by what they know from the media, because they really have no interest.

Games are portrayed in the media as inspiring killing, but really they are just entertainment. The military have their simulators, the public have their video games. Sure you have some nutjobs who who kill people and play games, but im sure they just enjoy playing games and really have some deeper issues.

The current media sucks. We need more open minds in it, people who arent afraid to expand past societies guidelines. The internet is good for that, but it doesnt get across to people like tv does.

CynicalFan's picture

Another thing about her comments, if it was some kind of ?proof? that games were ?killing-simulators,? then it is not much in the way of proof in showing how society and humanity as a whole is aggressive and competitive in nature ? it is not just a computer game phenomenon. If it wasn?t for this aggressive / competitive nature, we wouldn?t be at the point we are today as a society and in technology ? as this is what has driven it. Instead we would be munching on grass in some alien?s paddock, getting fattened up for the slaughter.

In particular it irritates me, when people paint games as a violent influence on children. It doesn?t seem to appear to these individuals and researchers, that perhaps aggressive play is a normal and an important formative element of a child?s development, especially in young males. As this develops characteristics and skills like: leadership, assertiveness, teamwork, ambition, etc ? I am sure there are better and more examples, even ones like: compassion, empathy and fairness.

I?ve often heard anthropologists refer to this concept of killer-apes that killed off the rest of the walking and tool using apes, leading to the rise of modern man. But there is something that they never seem to put together about these apes as they ponder where exactly these killer-apes went. I mean, where are exactly these ?killer-apes? that these anthropologists refer to exactly? Are they not at the top of the food chain now, their ancestors that is. Aren?t they us?

I really think it is pathetic when people see themselves as something that they are not. By censoring and banning games, you are not going to stop violent crime, as ScORCHo points out, there are always going to be people that play games and also end up killing people, but other issues are the result, not games ? as aggressiveness is a normal part of human behaviour. Either they are born that way, with some kind of mental defect or personality trait ? ie a psychopath ? or they were conditioned that way due to the influence of the people they grew up with, like there parents and family ? and there actions are a result of something like child-abuse, which can also lead to someone having the characteristics of a psychopath.

Games don?t make people into killers, people do. Games are just a scapegoat because people don?t want to face the reality that they helped create these people themselves, either directly with their actions, or indirectly in their ignorance and inaction to do anything about it.

lorien's picture

quote:Originally posted by CynicalFan

Another thing about her comments, if it was some kind of ?proof? that games were ?killing-simulators,? then it is not much in the way of proof in showing how society and humanity as a whole is aggressive and competitive in nature ? it is not just a computer game phenomenon. If it wasn?t for this aggressive / competitive nature, we wouldn?t be at the point we are today as a society and in technology ? as this is what has driven it. Instead we would be munching on grass in some alien?s paddock, getting fattened up for the slaughter.

I forgot about the show myself [:D]...
But don't you find things like America's Army rather scary? Doesn't the idea of having Uncle Sam sending top scoring players emails asking them "Son, would you like to come and join the army?" or something like it (which I gather happens to some) freak you out a bit? KumaWar http://www.kumawar.com/ is just as scary in some ways... Look at the site "Featured Mission: Assault on Iran" [:(] [:0] [:X]!!!

Ian Bell (one of the authors of Elite), on the politics and games panel at freeplay 04, talked about the sense of responsibility he's feeling these days, because of all the millions of people his work has influenced, and the particularly the people who his work had inspired a passion for making games.

Edit: Then there's the issue of the american army showing off their new tech at the GDC a while back (according to Brody Condon at least, as I've said elsewhere I haven't been to the GDC).

I'm not arguing with what you're saying btw, just those 2 games and military hardware at a games conference in particular really worry me.

CynicalFan's picture

Sure it is scary in a way, but more disgusting. But you have to realize that games are merely a tool, they don?t make people into killers. People make people into killers, like the US army. From what I understand from documentaries that I have watched, the US army uses all kind of tricks to get young men to enlist into the army, using a game as a tool to achieve this doesn?t surprise me, but it doesn?t make me want to demonise games.

It is also a case of other media influences in the US that promote the ?war on terror? and also promote a nationalistic (patriotic) agenda. Young men are easily swayed by this, they are at an age where many want to make a difference or some such thing. Look at any politic / religious organization, and chances are that you will find them dominated by young men.

Sure I feel in a way responsible when approaching my game development, but more so in trying to create a game that is not just seen as a ?game? but as entertainment. I think it is about time that game makers made some effort to justify the use of violence and other elements in a game, as many filmmakers do. Though there are films that are just about the action and violence, many use the violence to make a point or to support an element of the story.

They just don?t have it for the sake of having it. Not that that is bad, just poor story / game making.

As for the army being at a game developer?s conference, I can see why they would do it, they make and use tactical and strategic simulations for war gaming, and have used the services and talent of game developers to do so ? Pandemic Studios comes to mind.

It is not so much this that bothers me, but more that they are using games to recruit young impressionable and na?ve men into the army. But then again, perhaps that is their calling in life, for some it is making games, being a chef, being an office admin, and for others it is the thrill of shooting at people and blowing shit up ? better they do it for their country than do it one weekend at the shopping centre because they felt like it.

Though such games are ?military-sims,? these sims have been made by the amry to be as realitic as possible, which does not exactly translate into gameplay ? our input and output devises just haven?t come far enough, that is why we utilize concessions to make games easier to play, like a minimap.

It is also one thing to shoot at representation of an enemy soldier on a screen, it is another to be in a firefight with real enemy soldiers, taking one in the leg, suffering sever damage to the muscle and bone that the leg has to be amputated, and then having to live with that for the rest of your life. Most people are not that stupid to realize that this is the ?reality? of war.

I think they would generally join the army because one, there is something wrong in their head in a mental way, two, they believe in the cause and want to fight for their nation, three, the always wanted to be in the army and would have joined regardless. Games may have just been one of the motivations for this, others may have been films, or books, or a website. If it was not the game, it would have been something else, as that desire was there in some shape or form to begin with.

For instance, Jeffery Damer ? I think that was his name ? used to watch one scene from Return of the Jedi over and over again, where the emperor was in his throne with the young Luke at his feet in agony. Now, just because this one freak got off on that scene and used it to inspire him to kill a bunch of young men doesn?t men that we should then go and ban the movie and any other movie with scenes like it. It was not the scene or movie that caused him to do the things he did, it may have given him ideas, but that was not the source of his vile crimes ? other factors were the cause.

To use games as a tool, we can use the analogy of a power-drill, most people use it to drill holes in inanimate object and materials in a home handyman kind of way, but it could also be used to drill a hole in someone?s head. Is this the fault of the drill? Should we ban all drills because someone could use it for such or has used it for such? Of course not.

Furthermore, sure games in a round about way can teach you some things when it comes to shooting a gun at someone. But, it is not the source for someone to go out and shoot someone. If someone is so inclined, they may find inspiration and get ideas from playing such games, but the games are not themselves to blame or the source, if they then go out and start shooting people. Plus, games are rarely ?realistic? enough to teach you much, shooting a gun on screen is not the same as shooting one in real life at someone ? the experience is not realistically simulated, not even in AA.

Just because someone may acquire the skills and know how to do something, doesn?t mean they are going to do it. For instance, I could quite easily learn from the internet how to make a bomb, but that doesn?t mean that I am going to go and do it. Games are not the only source for this, films and books are also a source for this. Then there are physical games like paintball skirmish ? talk about a military killing-sim and a hell of a lot of fun ;).

Sure game makers should strive to have a good reason for having violence, but I don?t see games as being the source of violence anymore than I would see films and books as being a source of violence ? they may inspire, but they are not the origin of the violence, far more human factors are the source of this.

Games are a tool that can be used in a number of ways, one is for greater benefit and good, another way could be a wrong way. Just because it is used wrongly doesn?t mean that the tool is to blame or something to fear and to be banned.

souri's picture

I've read somewhere that America's Army has been so incredibly successful as a way of promoting the army and getting recruits, which also costs far less than their other promotional methods (tv / media advertising etc), that you won't be seeing that campaign disappearing anytime soon.
I think that highlights the potential that games have as a medium to inform and educate, which I'm sure was the reason why Street Survivor and Escape from Woomera took on that medium.

Just referring back to the comments early on about what the lady said on the show, which was something like "games seem to be all about killing". It just rubs me a little the wrong way when I hear comments like that. Marcus said that there is a broad spectrum of games, and I'd add that there was a survey, which I'm sure was done by the ESRB that said MA classified games (where a lot of shooting/killing games fall in to) make up such a tiny portion of the games that are released each year. I think the focus on violence in games these days by the media has led a lot of people to believe that those kind of games are all that's available, which is so far from the truth.

(I wish I could remember the link - but the survey was mentioned in a fantastic interview with someone from the ESRB responding to Jack Thompson's claims that the ESRB was failing at regulating games sprung from the whole Hot Coffee fiasco.)

mcdrewski's picture

Ok, I watched it finally, and [url="http://www.meeze.com/dpm/Vulture.wmv"]if you want a very small low-quality version then take a look (~2.5Mb)[/url].

Regarding the militaristic comments, I'm also not really sure what her meaning was, although it seemed as though she was trying to talk about games and film not being "real". I guess she prefers interpretive dance and street theatre? And anyway, it's not a good arts show without the words 'militaristic' and 'phallic' used in close proximity. Marcus I applaud your ability to keep a straight face :)

As for america's army... I think [url="http://www.seriousgamessummit.com/home.html"]they're in gaming to stay[/url]. I'm not sure if lorien would think the AIE or the Army were worse sponsors of a games conference though. :)

Personally I see nothing wrong with it. I made a choice not to work for Boeing in Brisbane because they're a weapons manufacturer, the same way that you make a choice with your games every day.

souri's picture

Hey, it seems there's some local studies on [url="http://www.ieaa.com.au/factsAndResearch/gamesAndViolence.do"]violence in games[/url], and shooting/killing games in particular that's worthy of a mention here..

quote:Aggressive content is a feature of games just as it is in films. The ?blood and gore? games fill a niche similar to horror movies and heavy metal music. ?Aggressive games appear among but do not dominate best selling titles?.

Generational attitudes towards games are also explained [;)]

lorien's picture

A very large part of Kipper's point in EFW was that games can be used to show another view of the world.

I had the essay around somewhere, I'll try and hunt it up and post it (Kipper told me it's fine to do so).

In case you are wondering there was quite a bit of cross-over between acmipark and Escape from Woomera. We helped each other out in a bunch of ways.

EFW isn't a shooter (for those who don't know). The goal of the demo level is to get a pair of plyers, not to kill anyone. It's an escape.

Kipper knows innocent refugees who spent quite a while in the woomera detention centre.

Phil Ruddock (the same who has been keeping out the R rating) called it "unlawful" in the national media- I understand the environment is very accurate.


Here's some of the FAQ

Q: By basing the game on the perpetration of illegal activities such as breaking out of detention aren't you inciting people to break the law?

A: This raises a further question:
"By basing the game on the perpetration of illegal activities, such as locking up people without trial, aren't you inciting governments to break the law?" Fortunately for those worried that the game would encourage refugees to break out of detention, or would incite governments around the world to break international law and defy UN conventions, these ideas show a real ignorance about the nature of videogames. Giving a player agency within a fictional game world - allowing them to make decisions and act out roles - is not at all the same as incitement or advocacy. Though there have been many studies done to try to prove a causal link between virtual actions in game and the real-life actions of the game player (for example "do violent videogames make kids violent"), no link whatsoever has ever been found. If we apply Ruddock's logic to the world's top-selling game for over a year (how many gamers do you know that haven't played GTA3?)- Grand Theft Auto III- a game in which the central premise is breaking the law, we'd presumably be seeing a massive increase in car thefts, prostitution and murder, and we'd have to believe that Rockstar games (the developers) condone such activities in real life. And finally, let's stop to consider exactly which law would be broken in an escape from detention. Yes, believe it or not - it's actually legally a crime punishable by imprisonment (oh irony of ironies!) to step outside a detention centre to 'tresspass' on Australian soil.

Q: Wouldn't making a game on this subject trivialise something that is a very serious issue?

A: We're attempting to create a play-space in which people can have access to and engage with this issue in an unprecedented and unique way. We're serious about the issue and as game developers we're serious about games and game culture. We're confident that there is a community of gamers out there who are passionate about their medium, and who are looking for an innovation in the nature of game content. Unlike the makers of, say, Grand Theft Auto III (who deserve enormous respect for their achievements in gameplay terms) we seek to engage player's minds - emotionally, ethically, intellectually - not just their trigger fingers. When non-gamers think about videogames they often confuse content with form. Just because some of the most high-profile commercial games might be considered "bad taste" for their 'gratuitous' use of violence and no brain content it doesn't follow that the interactive nature of the videogame medium itself is a barrier to the representation of serious issues. Early films were predominantly slapstick comedy and pornography - but noone today would deny that the film medium itself is robust enough to carry challenging content. However, obviously we're not just trying to create a straight-forward documentary game or a dry educational tool. Neither was Roberto Benigni when he made the made the award-winning film "Life Is Beautiful". That's why the film was condemned by a section of the Holocaust remembrance establishment - for the supposed lack of gravity in his depiction of the Holocaust experience.
Believe it or not, the truth is we're sick and tired of games that create heroes out of professional killers and US marines. For us, refugees are some of the greatest and most legitimate heroes of our time. And we're not prepared to hold back and leave this facet of their story untold because the lives of these remarkable individuals collectively constitute an 'issue' so serious that it is supposedly 'untouchable'.

Q: But isn't this game the height of bad taste?

A: Well, that seems to be implying that we're trying to make a joke - a joke in poor taste. And actually, you could say that by consciously making accessible a fully immersive experience of an environment that has been deemed strictly off limits by the powers-that-be is the height of political satire. But no, that's not true; the height of political satire was when the eighteenth century Irish writer Jonathan Swift suggested that the English solve the problem of poverty in Ireland by simply encouraging Irish peasants to sell their children to the rich as a tasty alternative to pork. Interestingly, 'A Modest Proposal' is considered the greatest piece of political satire in the history of English literature - and not a 'bad taste' trivialisation of the plight of the Irish. Hezbollah, who fought on the front line against the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, don't seem to think that the videogame is a medium that necessarily trivialises their fight for freedom against 20 years of Israeli occupation. In fact, they made a game themselves.
Meanwhile, Under-ash is a popular game with kids in the middle-east (including Palestine). It documents the first Palestinian Intifada. Interestingly, every time your character gets killed in this game a voice-over informs you that your corpse will be identified and members of your family will tortured and possibly killed as a result. Bad taste? Or a much-needed dose of the truth in the world of videogames?

ScORCHo's picture

That IEAA study is exactly right. What it comes down to is:
A. People who play games love playing games because they are fun & entertaining, or plus they make games and love the technology and the art. No other reason.
B. People who make comments about this game violence/people violence issue are so uninformed, have never played a video game in their life, and really have absolutley no interest to. This is not a bad thing, it just means that gamere and non-gamers are totally different people.

What i can't stand is when humans get the slightest bit of information about something, they suddenly assume that they know exactly what is going on. To become truly informed about something you need to do it, not just read about it. See im doing it now!! curse this human psychology!

lorien's picture

This was presented by Kipper via a speech synth at freeplay last year. I was given permission to pass it around freely, so long as it is attributed to Kipper.

Last night in his keynote talk Harvey Smith told us that games can change
the world. He also said that we must ignore the cynics and believe in games
as a medium, an artform that has enormous potential; that the work of game
developers of today, as early pioneers of this artform, will be poured over
and analysed in years to come.

I think this is absolutely true.

I would also add that the future of game development isn't set, that game
developers today have an historic and cultural duty to consider how they are
shaping the future of their artform.

And if we are to contend that games are more than toys and are in fact an
emerging artform, we are at once contending that games are by nature
political and that, consistent with every other artistic or expressive
medium, the future of the game medium will be shaped by struggle.

From control of the ideology of game content to control over game
production - these are some of the battlefronts in the present and future
war being waged in the world of videogames. The political nature of the
videogame and the game industry cannot be denied, though widespread denial
is in the interests of some powerful forces.

To create games is to create culture, in the context of cultural struggle. I
believe it is important to engage in this struggle.

Following is a something I originally wrote with the intention of
interesting a somewhat conservative left in the political potential and
reality of games. Because I am unable to attend this panel in person I find
myself recycling this piece with a very different audience in mind. But
neverthless, here it is.

Activists often use the slogan "another world is possible". This slogan
implies a great deal about the barriers we face in trying to agitate for
revolutionary change. We feel the need to point out, in an almost truistic
fashion, that it is in fact possible to change the world, in spite of all
appearances - appearances fostered by those in power with an interest in
maintaining the status quo.

How do we convince people of the theoretical existence of this other
possible world?

We point to fleeting glimpses of a divergent future that are sometimes
thrown up in day to day struggles, we raise consciousness through the
discussion and disemination of theory and history. The left also has a proud
tradition of teasing the popular consciousness with the possibility of other
worlds through the creation of alternative culture - with, for example,
events like the Reclaim the Streets parties today, and more historically,
works of art, film and literature that acquaint their audience with social
and political possibilities by way of the imagination.

But what if we took that slogan literally for a moment: "another world is
possible". What if we were able to actually simulate those other possible
worlds; worlds in which history was 'actively' participated in, and future
struggles rehearsed? This is what the medium of the videogame offers.

As the influence of game culture grows, games will become an important
cultural weapon in the class war. They are already being used in the service
of imperialist ideological hegemony, and even the US military are making
games for the mass market.

But this medium isn't limited to being a one way conduit for ideas. Games
can show that the status quo is mutable, and that another world is possible.
As more of the real world is simulated in the virtual domain, the state of
the world is copied into game-state: a malleable set of abstractions to be
'played' with. As Julian Oliver, the executive producer on our project once
put it: through our ability to simulate the real we can give people the
means of developing a toolkit of ideas for breaking the rules of the real.

There is nothing unusual or new about dealing with 'serious' subject matter
and contemporary struggles in the context of gameplay. Play has historically
had an important social role as a "safe" context in which to rehearse real
challenges and conflicts. It is a naturally evolved tool in the preparations
for war. Although the parents who sue game publishers on the basis that
"games incited my son to steal cars and shoot his classmates" are hopelessly
misinformed, I agree with them on one thing: games are powerful stuff.

I don't agree, however, with the soft left commentators who decry the
violent and conflict-based nature of some videogames and say that gamers
should instead be fed a steady diet of the adventures of cutesy
anthropomorphised animals. Let's not retreat to fluffy la-la land when it
comes to youth culture in a time of war and social injustice. Let's exploit
the dangerous, subversive side of games and drag them kicking and screaming
into the service of left political discourse. It's about time we staked a
claim on this cultural territory. In answer to games like "F/A 18: Operation
Iraqi Freedom" let's design games called "Operation Defend Iraq: Defeat the
US-led Occupation". Hezbollah have already documented their military
campaigns against the Israeli occupation of Southern Lebanon in a PC game
they developed called "Special Force", and Palestinian kids throw virtual
rocks at Israeli tanks in the Syrian produced game "Under Ash".

These ideas have helped provide the context for my involvement with the
videogame project Escape From Woomera.

With Escape From Woomera we hope to provide a space to engage with political
ideas in a new way: by inviting players to assume the character of a refugee
to 'live' through their experiences and take on their challenges.

The Australian state and their mercenaries Australasian Correctional
Management have gone to extraordinary lengths to deny the public and the
media access to immigration detention centres. We took this as a
provocation, a challenge. ACM may be able to stop people leaving the camps
with photographs, but they can't erase the memories of their victims. The
government won't let the public see what it's like inside? Fine; let's just
create a virtual model of the place and invite the public to 'step' inside
and find out for themselves.

While Hollywood churns out tales of white man heroism and historical
rewrites of war-time adversity, here in our backyard we house the unsung
heroes of our time, the ones who have bravely kept on fighting against
oppression and injustice long after they arrived in the so-called "Free
World". I'd like to think that some future society, with the benefit of
hindsight, would at least come to recognise these people for the heroes they
truly are, instead of the cowardly opportunists they are portrayed as in the
mainstream media. If we want to help effect effect change in the here and
now, however, the fictional tales of refugees throwing their children
overboard must be met right now with the true stories of refugees' own
stories about their experiences in Australia.

In April 2003 the Escape From Woomera project was granted $25,000 to design
and prototype a first person 3D adventure game. Currently we are finishing
the prototype, which we will use to attempt to acquire further funding.
Unfortunately, games cost a great deal more than $25,000 to make, and in the
current arts funding climate for new media and with the federal government's
bullying of the Australia Council over the funding of our project, the
prospects of public funding for a project like ours seem slim.

Despite my optimism for the potential for games as tools of cultural
resistance, I recognise the limitations of what we are doing. For me, Escape
From Woomera is more "immersive propaganda" (my term) than a piece of
"tactical media activism" (a fashionable term for a form of cultural
resistance). I can't help feeling that labelling our project as a form of
activism would seem like a passive propagandist excuse for opting out of
'real' activism. Hopefully with Escape From Woomera we will be able to
inspire gamers to act in the real world, because it is this world that must
be changed.

lorien's picture

In case you can't tell Kipper and I get along rather well [:)] Wish I could come up with quotes like "Let's not retreat to fluffy la-la land when it comes to youth culture in a time of war and social injustice."

This is completely off topic, but here's another one of my favourite Kipper quotes

It's perfectly natural that entry-level applicants wouldn't and shouldn't come fully skilled for tiny (yes, compared to other industries, tiny!) specialist industries "out of the box". Training was provided on the job in the past and to change the rules expect kids to foot the bill nowadays is just unfair - and moreover locking out a large section of talented people from the industry who can't afford the technology and training for a vocation they only have a *chance* at securing paid employment from. I object to the idea of one day kids being forced to get a PhD in texturing dogs' bollocks to get a game dev. job just because the GDAA has been whinging for years in the media and to gullible government bureaucrats with the old "it's impossible to find good help these days" bullshit. Given that many senior local game developers who have been made "redundant" over the last few years are often finding it hard to get back into the industry, i find the one-sided rhetoric rather dishonest and disrespectful. It's also not uncommon for game dev. companies to keep advertisements permanently posted for positions they're don't currently have open, "just in case", or the positions are dependent on some contract that is currently in la-la land, waiting to be signed by the publisher fairy. Insisting on "heat and eat" (metaphor whole-heartedly intentional) game developer graduates is not going to increase the level of professionalism in our industry. It sure as hell takes two to tango, and I'm not seeing much genuine effort being put in on the other side of the dancefloor where the employers are standing. Let's give the kids a break - they deserve it.

It's from early last year.

lorien's picture

To fill the silence that normally follows after quoting Kipper anywhere [:)] I thought I'd post a bit about Street Survivor. Kirsty Baird is the big project person, and it was worked on by a La Trobe comp-sci academic- Dr Richard Hall. I don't know who the rest of the team are/were.

I haven't played it (!) so I'll use some quotes to describe it.

On the selectparks site http://www.selectparks.net/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=251 it's descibed as

... political documentary game Street Survivor. Street Survivor tracks the activities of a homeless girl in Melbourne Australia. Real world survival tips are embedded in the game. Game designer Kirsty Baird has worked hard to prevent the game from becoming a condescending youth arts project; game play offers real challenges as the balance between the helpful and harmful effects of drugs, bots and the city must be balanced.

And on avantgaming http://www.avantgaming.com/streetsurvivor.html

Street Survivor documents the activities of Sonya; a homeless adolescent girl in Melbourne Australia. Sonya finds herself in a reality filled with addiction, hunger, violence, and crime as she attempts to escape her past while searching for a new future. The game is targeted to at-risk adolescents who are homeless or may have a high probability of becoming homeless. Ultimately, the game is hopes to give youth a better understanding of life on the street and educate them on the types of support that is available.

I seem to remember hearing something about trouble caused by some realistic amphetamine use (afaik Sonya uses some speed to give herself the energy to get out of an abusive situation). Don't know how realistic or if I got that muddled...

mcdrewski's picture

While I can certainly understand Kipper's point of view, I'm not sure that approach is the only way, nor the best way. It is, however a right way.

I've just played through most of EFW, and you're right, it's quite powerful. However like a lot of manifesto style media (ie: arthouse film) it's not easy to find, nor to get into. I keep wondering where our Michael Moore, and our Trey Parker/Matt Stone are?

I want to see short, punchy casual flash games which get emailled between office workers.[url="http://www.rpi.edu/dept/llc/webclass/web/project1/group4/"]Ethos (rather than EoW/SS's pathos, and kipper's Logos)[/url] used as a tool to open the eyes of the world.

I read a quote I'm going to have to look up in [url="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Mars"]Kim Stanley Robinson's Blue Mars[/url] which paraphrased, in response to someone claiming they don't care about politics is "That's exactly what those who do care want you to think!".

lorien's picture

I think EFW would probably have ended up rather different with more funding. That's just a prototype demo that was made to try for more funding.

I've been told The Australia Council tried to censor it- they wanted it set in the distant future with no mention of Woomera- read between the lines stuff again. I think you can guess the kind of reaction Kipper had to that idea [:)]

lorien's picture

quote:Originally posted by mcdrewski
I want to see short, punchy casual flash games which get emailled between office workers.[url="http://www.rpi.edu/dept/llc/webclass/web/project1/group4/"]Ethos (rather than EoW/SS's pathos, and kipper's Logos)[/url] used as a tool to open the eyes of the world.

Unfortunately I think we are more likely to see these toys used for direct marketing and advertising.

Nike shoes as a power up that really make you run faster in the virtual world with the option to buy online via credit card at the end of level for example [:(] Games that really try to figure out who is playing them to target in game advertisments and select which power-ups players are most likely to like, then buy in the real world. DON'T GET ANY IDEAS ANYONE! [:)] I thought of it years ago and wished I hadn't...

lorien's picture

BTW mcdrewski you should have a look at DonkeyJohn http://www.donkeyjohn.com/donkeyjohn/

Donkey Kong played by John Howard throwing barrels of East Timor crude oil down to Australia [:)]

mcdrewski's picture

[url="http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20051201/demaria_02.shtml"]This one looks interesting[/url]. Non-violent resistance sim...


lorien's picture

quote:Originally posted by mcdrewski

[url="http://www.gamasutra.com/features/20051201/demaria_02.shtml"]This one looks interesting[/url]. Non-violent resistance sim...


I agree, and I see the name "Zimmerman" [:)]

On your suggestion of political flash games you should have a look at the work of [url="http://ludoligy.org"]Gonzalo Frasca [/url] and his [url="http://ludology.org/staticpages/index.php?page=20041216022502102"]list of games[/url]

He's probably the master of the area, and he spoke at ACMI a while ago- the things you Brisbane guys (edit: and girls, sorry) miss out on by not having ACMI [:)]