31 July, 2013

The Castle Doctrine

What is it about game designers who try to do something controversial in a game, and then get all defensive about it (or claim that their game is a piece of high-art/self-expression)?

Before today, I'd never even heard of "The Castle Doctrine". Based on the various commentaries I've been reading about it, It's a game that has been written in response to the designers feeling of "helplessness" when their middle-class white prestige was vaguely under threat (by way of a few robberies in his new neighbourhood, two of which occurred in the house next door). Suddenly the designer felt violated, and believed in a typical American/NRA fashion that he his house was his castle, and thus he could/should defend it by any mean necessary.

It's an inherently violent game, and my readings of a few pages from The Castle Doctrine Wiki lead me to the conclusion that it's basically as palatable as a game of Monopoly...ie, once one person slightly creeps ahead by virtue of luck or circumstances the favour tips further toward them and it becomes ever harder for the underdog to gain ground. This occurs through character death, once you die you're booted and have to start again from scratch while the winners gain more money in game and more advantage.

Generally capitalism at work. Nothing wrong with that if you call a spade a spade, and don't hide behind rhetoric of "artistic integrity".

Other complaints about the game stem from the fact that all player characters in the game are the patriarchs of nuclear families. It caters to a specific demographic, in much the same way that most action films do. The hero is male, their family are merely plot devices on the way to a big revenge sequence. Again, if the designer set out to offend people by making a blatantly sexist product, good for him, he succeeded...but he shouldn't hide behind the dogma of  "this is my vision, this is my right to free speech, this is my art".

If you want to read more about the game, there are dozens of posts floating around on various blogs, some of the more comprehensive can be found on Rock,Paper,Shotgun, the post that alerted me to the game is here.

I don't think I'll bother looking at this game at all, it stinks of someone trying to be controversial for the sake of controversy. It's just like that game where everyone plays a train controller trying to develop the most efficient models for getting passengers to their destination, only to discover in a twist at the end of the game that their passengers are Jews and their destinations are concentration camps.

Controversy for the sake of controversy.

It gets a name out there for a while, and it raises the hackles on a bunch of internet commentators, but does it really get people thinking about the ideas...even if it does get people thinking, what message is it trying to say. Blatancy can only get you so far.

That's enough rant for now.
Post a Comment