The first game I engaged was one made by the Arcade Wire (perhaps the name is a play on the Arcade Fire, an indie rock band) called Airport Security. The game featured very decent graphics as it focused on a long rope-maze, which was perpetually filling up with a line of people trying to get through airport security. The gamer (myself in this case) played the role of an airport security guard—perhaps one affiliated with or working for the Department of Homeland Security. There were two boxes that hosted the current airport-goer and the contents of their suitcase. At the top was a bar that showed the randomly revolving list of items that were forbidden by the Department. As a gamer I had to click on the items the traveler was wearing and particular items in their suitcase to seize them for further scrutiny. It essentially became a game of trying to beat the clock, that is, trying to keep the line from growing by performing my job as quickly as possible. Eventually the line would fill up, or I would seize improper items and this would result in my losing the game. The social commentary was hilarious, as I was seizing peoples’ hummus, ice cream sundaes, pants, and other ridiculous items that would not seem to ever present a threat to airline security.
The second game I engaged in was not a very fun game; I could not figure out exactly how to play, even though I am a well seasoned gamer and read the instructions carefully. It was also an Arcade Wire game, which are hosted by Shockwave, which is great to see because Shockwave has been around since my middle-school days—its good to see the site is still strong. The game was called Bacteria Salad. The goal of the game was to harvest lettuce and tomatoes for consumption by consumers. One had to make sure the threats, cows, terrorists, and rainstorms, did not infect the crops. I could not ever figure out how to stop the threats from contaminating the crops, so I was never successful for long, but it was fun to watch people eat the bad food and become ill. Overall, I believe that the social commentary was laid on too thick, and that it hurt the fun factor of the game, which means it was not successful as either commentary or a game.
The third game I encountered was called Faith Fighter, and was by far the best game I played for this assignment. It was a typical side-scrolling, versus fighter game—but it featured gods of today’s prominent world religions as the characters one could use to fight. It came complete with special moves, like Buddha’s dharma wheel projectile and Jesus’ Holy Ghost projectile that looked like dove in a blue fireball. The game was true to the versus-game aesthetic, which made it instant fun. The commentary of the game was also well received by this particular audience; I found the joke about the world religions constantly fighting a bit unoriginal, but still a pertinent subject nonetheless. My favorite part of the game was that at the top of the tournament tree was a surprise final fight, with none other than Xenu, the dictator of the Galactic Confederacy and god to the Scientologists. He turned out to be a chump though, not even putting up as good a fight as Buddha or Mohammed. Over it was a solid game with an interesting, somewhat open-to-interpretation commentary.
The fourth and final game I played was not an entertaining or engrossing game at all. The commentary was not veiled nor conveyed in and interesting or creative manner, it was simply blunt. The “game” which was more like a crossword puzzle than a true videogame, was called Corporate Greed: Names, Faces, and Deeds, and can be found under the “Public Policy Games” section of Social Impact Games. Basically one was presented with a grid of boxes filled with corporate tyrants names and faces. It was the gamer’s duty to match the faces with the correct names. After a correct match, one was presented with a multiple-choice question asking what heinous deed they had committed. Lame.
Overall I found the games with creative commentaries were the most effective, and will be the games I remember and ponder later on.