Oiligarchy  

Posted by Big Gav in , , ,

The Guardian has a post on a new game where you get to play at being an oil mogul called "oiligarchy" - Oiligarchy: A game with a message.

it's been something of a trial to me this week to discover a link that I really do want to send to at least half the people I know: the wonderfully simple, sublimely intelligent little online game Oiligarchy, which I discovered via Metafilter. It combines so many fascinating elements: it's part strategy game, part political statement, part chilling near-future narrative. It's charmingly designed, and yet so slyly educational that I've been thinking a little differently about the world ever since I played it.

The game begins with a familiar-seeming business strategy scenario. It's 1945. You the player are CEO of a large oil company in the US. Your job is to make money, keep the shareholders happy. So you start to drill. First in Texas, that's pretty easy, no one's trying to stop you and the black gold starts flowing. But soon the Texas wells aren't enough to meet consumer demand. So you need to look further afield. But where? If you drill in Nigeria, you might find protesters blowing up your rigs. So you'll probably have to employ local militia to defend them. If you try Alaska, you'll have those pesky environmentalists on your back. And of course Iraq is unstable: to drill there you'll really need the support of US soldiers. But to get that you'd have to have a president sympathetic to your cause. Time to start funding political parties, then.

Oiligarchy makes no claims to be an impartial guide to the oil industry. As the designers say in their fascinating postmortem document, "Software does not constitute … documentary footage or a journalistic report." Instead, their manifesto is to "free videogames from the 'dictatorship of entertainment', using them instead to describe pressing social needs, and to express our feelings or ideas". As the game goes on, past 2008, the future it imagines is increasingly unsettling.

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