it’s interesting to me that what i criticized jason rohrer’s game about police brutality for three years ago – its antiseptic, passionless tone – is exactly what makes increpare’s game on the same subject so effective. why that is is because of a crucial difference in the games’ perspectives. in rohrer’s game, the player attempts to organize students to resist arrest. it makes no sense to characterize resistance to authoritarianism so coldly: that kind of resistance is born from anger and fear, from a desire to overcome a sense of helplessness and isolation imposed by the better-equipped forces of authority and control.
in increpare’s game, on the other hand, the player plays the police. here that cold tone is the point: by characterizing the cruel tactic of kettling (surrounding, entrapping, holding and starving a crowd of people) as a dispassionate, methodical, goal-oriented series of puzzles, stephen lavelle reminds us that the real horror of human oppression is that it’s a job performed for a wage, a machine in which human conflict is an equation with an end state. jason rohrer’s game presents oppression as a simple problem to be solved; lavelle’s game suggests that to our oppressors, we are a simple problem to be solved.