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.

3 thoughts on “kettle”

  1. Playing this game makes one feel rather uneasy. While it’s pretty damn well executed, I don’t recommend it to people excessively empathic with nameless fictional characters; or with imagination enough (or access to news about the subject) to know these kinds of things happen IRL.

  2. I played this game a while back, and I must say I agree that it provides a stark overview of the way authoritarianism works. Although we’re working from the perspective of the police, we don’t sympathize with them so much as we do with the crowd we’re trying to control. I think this is a fantastic work.

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