Posts from ‘Social Impact’ Category

Faith Fighter No More

By: Derek Yu

On: April 28th, 2009

Faith Fighter

Faith Fighter, the controversial browser-based fighting game where you could pit your favorite deities against each other Primal Rage-style, has been pulled from the creator’s website, following a brief statement from the Organization of the Islamic Conference condemning the game as being “incendiary in its content and offensive to Muslims and Christians.” Molleindustria, who also developed the game Operation: Pedopriest, explains why they removed the game, citing a failure on their part to communicate the inherent irony of the game, which was created shortly after, and partly as a response to, the uproar over the Danish newspaper cartoons which depicted the face of the prophet Muhammed.

A more detailed write-up can be found here, on the liberal news and opinion blog The Huffington Post. Faith Fighter can still be played on Newgrounds.

TIGdb: Entry for Faith Fighter

Super Energy Apocalypse: RECYCLED

By: Derek Yu

On: March 1st, 2009

Super Energy Apocalypse: RECYCLED

Super Energy Apocalypse: RECYCLED is the first title from the newly-formed Brain Juice Games. It’s an entertaining and polished strategy/tower defense game with a sustainable energy theme (its creator, Lars Doucet, took an internship at the Houston Advanced Research Center during its development). In the game you’ll tap various natural sources (wind, solar, coal, nuclear, etc.) to power your camps and protect them from zombies who invade during the night. But you have to be aware of the waste you create, which makes the zombies stronger – garbage trucks will need to haul away the trash to landfills and recycling centers.

Unfortunately, while the message is certainly worthwhile, it gets slightly lost in the post-apocalyptic narrative, in my opinion. From an educational standpoint, more real-life facts about the world’s energy consumption and its consequences would have been great. As it was, I was thinking more about killing zombie mutants than conservation while playing the game.

I also never felt like a developed a solid strategy. This is partly because the zombie assaults are so frantic – zombies of all types overrun the map pretty quickly. Visually, it’s hard to tell who’s attacking what, or how much damage anything is doing. And before you know it, it’s all over – the coming dawn destroys any zombies that are still left standing. Regarding the resources, I never saw any real downsides to using any of them (another reason why the conservation theme got sort of lost on me). Mind you, I was playing on “Super Normal” difficulty (the middle of three).

None of the aforementioned problems really prevented me from having fun with the game. As with most tower defense games, it’s enjoyable just to lay down weapons and watch things die. But I think more could have been done to develop the game’s strategy and overall theme (more educational games, please!).

TIGdb: Entry for Super Energy Apocalypse: RECYCLED

Polytron Corporation Acquires Fez

By: Brandon McCartin (BMcC)

On: January 25th, 2009

Fez Screenie

Hurrah, the Polytron site is live! And I’ll be darned if it ain’t the slickest thing ever. More good news! Fez is planned for a 2009 release. Here’s the press release, direct from Polyplex One:

Montreal, Thursday the 22nd of January , 4:29pm, Montreal


The Polytron Corporation is proudly excited to announce its friendly takeover of Fez!

The venerable multimedia multinational giant today announces it has taken control of the production of highly anticipated indie darling sensation Fez. The rights to the game were transferred from indie darling sensation collective Kokoromi, who demanded nothing in return but a dream, and a wish.

Winner of the 2008 IGF Excellence In Visual Arts Award, Fez also features 2008 IGF nominated design innovation.

Polytron is vibrating with glee at the prospect of bringing it’s much needed decades of experience in the field of computer entertainment to Fez, and its team.

Confident in its dedication to the project, Polytron projects a release in 2009.

More screenshots here. (Check out the new and also improved art style!)
More press after the jump.

About Polytron:

Worldwide leader in the field of polytronics, The Polytron Corporation is a name you can trust for all your electronic computer entertainment needs.

About Kokoromi Worldwide:

Worldwide game/art party leader Kokoromi an experimental game collective formed by a rare union of Montreal gamemakers and curators to promote games as an art form and expressive medium worldwide.

About Excellence In Visual Arts:

Fez won it.

About Fez:

We’re making it.

Venture Arctic Free Until New Year’s

By: Derek Yu

On: December 24th, 2008

Venture Arctic

Andy Schatz offers up a great gift for the holidays: his ecological sim Venture Arctic is free until 2009. In his own words:

Somtimes it takes a little while to get to know a game before you fall in love with it. This is one of those games. I just want everyone else to be able to get to know it as well.
Merry Christmas!

TIGdb: Entry for Venture Arctic

9/11 Invaders Installation Pulled From Leipzig Games Convention

By: Derek Yu

On: August 25th, 2008


Don’t ask me why, but I’m kind of fascinated by controversial games right now. The games, the ensuing discussion, and their ultimate “place” in gaming history. If you’re not, however, then apologies in advance.

Artist Douglas Stanley has asked the Leipzig Games Convention to pull his installation, citing “a steady downward spiral in public discussion of the piece” as the reason. Stanley’s work, which lets players fight a futile battle against classic Space Invaders as they attack the Twin Towers, has drawn fire across the board – from Taito, who is considering a lawsuit against Stanley and/or the organizers of the event, to families of 9/11 victims. The controversy was also fueled over speculation that Stanley is French (in actuality he is an American living in France).

It should be noted that, unlike Sigvatr (Muslim Massacre), Stanley has publicly expressed that the game is partly a criticism of America’s war in the Middle East. And Kotaku’s Michael McWhertor, who played the game, reveals that a video loop plays next to the game, featuring “scenes from the films Taxi Driver, Independence Day, Air Force One and Die Hard — all of which are American made films with a xenophobic streak — interspersed with stills of George W. Bush in his flight suit and John Wayne pointing a gun at the screen.” (This makes the controversy over Stanley’s nationality somewhat ironical, I feel.) Also, on the “Game Over” screen the game displays “SUPPORT OUR TROOPS,” for whatever that’s worth.

I understand that depicting the 9/11 terrorist attacks in anything other than complete seriousness is still considered taboo for many Americans, but I’m still surprised that this drew so much outrage. Call me naive.

(Image Source: Kotaku)

Muslim Massacre

By: Derek Yu

On: August 19th, 2008

Muslim Massacre

To continue our theme of controversial topics this week… Sigvatr, who you might recognize as Michal Marcinkowski’s collaborator on Link-Dead and Berserker (both still WIP), has released Muslim Massacre, a NES-style arena shoot ‘em up set in the Middle East. Delicious satire, tasteless shock game, or both? I’ll leave you with a quote from Benzido, which I think does a great job of summing up my own feelings about the game:

The idea of this game certainly makes me uncomfortable. You are skating a very fine line between satire and bad taste. But the game makes a very worthwhile and timely political point, in my view, even if you claim to be apolitical.
I think it’s brave, because it’s the kind of satire that many people will misunderstand, especially in America and in Islamic countries. So you’ll probably offend some muslims and some ‘liberal pussies’, and even worse, you’ll get a bunch of right-wing racists playing it with a boner. If you’re especially lucky, it will appear on the ‘huffington post’ as evidence of how video games send the wrong message to children.
Still, you can’t be misunderstood any worse than the ‘super columbine massacre’ guy.

I am also reminded of Zi-Xiao Liang’s Scientology PWNED (TIGdb), although this is decidedly a more dangerous and ambitious venture.

TIGdb: Entry for Muslim Massacre

Sandra Day O’Connor: Indie Game Developer

By: Derek Yu

On: June 4th, 2008

Sandra Day O' Connor

Sandra Day O’Connor, the first female Justice of the United States Supreme Court and all-around badass (now retired as the former), was the keynote speaker yesterday at Games For Change, a three-day festival for “social impact” games held at Parsons The New School For Design (that is an awkward name) in New York City. In her keynote, O’Connor revealed a project she’s working on – Our Courts, an “interactive online civics curriculum” (otherwise known as “games”) that will educate students about the United States’ legal and judiciary systems by letting them tackle real world problems. The project will launch in 2009.

When asked what her favorite video game was, O’Connor paused very briefly before closing her eyes, leaning into the mic, and whispering, “Cave Story.”

(Just kidding, but that’s still pretty cool, innit?)

(Source: Chris Baker, via Game|Life)


By: Derek Yu

On: May 19th, 2008


Execution is a short, experimental game from Jesse Venbrux about the consequences of one’s actions. I’ll leave the discourse for the comments (don’t read them if you don’t want to be spoiled).

(Source: Jared, via Puppy Buckets)


By: Derek Yu

On: January 20th, 2008


Harpooned is a socially conscious shoot ‘em up that puts you at the helm of a Japanese whaling boat. It was created by artist Conor O’Kane as a criticism of the Japanese practice of “scientific whaling.” In the game, you shoot whales for their meat, earning “species” combos by killing two or more whales in a row. Protesters and icebergs are your main obstacles. At the end of each level the meat you’ve collected is packaged into pet food and hamburgers.

In 1982, the International Whaling Commission declared a moratorium on commercial whaling. Since then, Japan, one of only three nations which hunt the so-called “”">great whales," has begun whaling for science, claiming that the meat which they collect is sold only to offset the costs of their expeditions, and that their lethal and cruel approach (which really does involve exploding harpoons) is necessary to understand the animals. Not surprisingly, it’s an extremely controversial topic.

The game definitely argues its point well for the most part, and its message is bolstered by the fact that its production is fantastic and the actual gameplay is challenging and fun. If I had one qualm with it, it’s that the high scores list includes well-known scientists like Darwin, Einstein, Newton, and Sagan, implying that all science is somehow inhumane (or that these men would condone the mistreatment of animals).

It’s interesting to note that developer O’Kane hails from Australia, which is a staunch anti-whaling nation, and recently ruled Japanese whaling illegal. For more information on Japanese whaling, check out its Wikipedia page, as well as this BBC article (along with the links on the game’s website).


By: Derek Yu

On: November 12th, 2007

Free Rice

FreeRice is a website that tests your vocabulary, and for every word you get right, its many sponsors (Apple, American Express, Macy’s, etc.) will donate 10 grains of rice to the The United Nations World Food Program. To date, the site has donated 1.3 billion grains of rice, and the rate at which rice donations are growing each day reminds me of the chessboard story.

I always jump at the chance to improve my vocabulary, and it’s nice to know it’s contributing to something good. It’s fun, too! The site automatically adjusts its level based on how many correct/incorrect guesses you make. You viviparous stentor, you.

And coming up next: World of FreeRiceCraft. 10 grains of rice for every goblin smashed. You heard it here first!