In my previous post I talked about this card game called Cards Against Colonialism. It is a riff on Cards Against Humanity which is itself a play on the phrase ‘crimes against humanity’. The subtitle for Cards Against Colonialism is “a party game for indigenant peoples”, another play of words , but this time on the words ‘Indigenous’ and ‘indignant’. The game itself is not your straight-forward educational game, but a somewhat snarky riff on being Indian, in game form. I will talk about two games that I would like to see riffs on. In the spirit of Cards Against Colonialism, I want to “indigenantize” them. If you can think of more or have thoughts you want to share: Comments, Please.
Game 1: Papers, Please
I’ve finally played it. If I had a list of great games as art, this would probably be in the top 5. This game puts you in the shoes of a immigration officer in a dystopian world where freedom barely exists in any form. Think life as an immigration officer in a dystopian communist dictatorship. This game is a work simulator basically. Your task is to approve or deny entrants to your country. All sorts of people come though and it forces you to come into contact with many of yours and others prejudices as well as putting you in positions where you must discriminate against people unfairly, take bribes, converse with drug dealers, all in order for your family to survive, and to protect your country from the constant threat of terrorism. Your job gets increasingly difficult as your country spirals into turmoil with a more and more rules being layered onto each other. By the end you are juggling papers all over the place and getting fines for screwing up. With my second attempt I got ending 17/20, and got executed for treason. It was a powerful emotional experience that took me just a couple of days to finish.
The Riff: Sovereignty, Please
Before I go into this I want to first say that the amount of stereotypes and misunderstandings that may be produced by creating a game like this could do more harm than good for Indian Country. I also want to say that I am aware that most tribal governments are a legacy of bad policy acted upon by the US government towards Indian tribes and that it is not my intent to defame any tribe, but to get thoughts and conversation going. That being said, this riff would be an interesting way to get tribal people to think more on the issue of disenrollment. Remember, this is a thought experiment of ‘indigenantizing’ so the intent is feathers to be ruffling.
The mock-up game would be set in a DYSTOPIAN and historically FAKE tribal enrollment services office. You as an tribal enrollment officer would be forced to accept or deny enrollment of members. You might have all sorts of politicians coming in and telling you to accept people or not, others may bribe you. You might have kind people without their descendency papers, or tribal ID’s, or whatever, but are known by the community as being tribal members suddenly be asked to prove their membership. Perhaps the tribal casino is making less money at one point and members are being made to be disenrolled and you must make the choice of whether or not getting rid of X amount of people from the rolls is something you want on your conscience. Potential issues related to tribal enrollment are, race, ethnicity, community involvement, family, politics, blood-quantum, disenrollment, and more. These are all serious issues that a simulation might actually get people to think more about.
Game 2: Hot Springs Story
Kairosoft is known for making creative, cute and addictive mobile simulation games. I loved the game Game Dev Story and when they released Hot Springs Story I couldn’t not buy it. Kairosoft are far from the only ones to work in this genre, but I wanted to choose one that was done well enough for me to finish the game to the end, and one on mobile. It is a game where you are a manager of a hot springs bathhouse complex in Japan. Your goal is to improve your originally modest bathhouse so that it is more appealing bringing in more customers and more money to reinvest in your business. The mechanics of the game is being able to design your complex in a way that is aesthetically pleasing for customers. You have to make sure that the plants match, that there are nice gardens and services. If you do this, your appeal goes up and more people come in. Over time, if you give it a good effort, your complex looks rad and you’re making bank.
The Riff: Tribal Casino Story
You probably already guessed it before you even got down here. It would be a indignitization of Hot Springs Story where you are the director of the casino. It could start out as a modest Bingo Hall and eventually move up to being a small casino, to a large casino with a hotel and then to a casino/resort with golf courses etc. The mechanics would be similar to the game we are riffing on, where perhaps you would have to place certain machines near each other with the same themes to get your appeal higher. Or you need to get certain table games that are trending as the timeline goes on. Or you need to make a non-smoking area. You get the picture.
I just realized that there are probably casino simulation games out there and a quick google search showed me that, yes, they exist. What would make this game different from those games? It would be an aware game. It will have an indirect message in it where its not just about making tons of money, but will provide some moral challenges and put you face-to-face with real issues around tribal casino management. It could bring up issues like gambling addiction, second-hand smoke, customer service, openness/closed-ness to outsiders, racism, economics, hiring practices, and all sorts of other issues when people cross borders. It will be a bit dark and morally ambiguous, but could even keep the cute aesthetic and be mobile friendly.
Thanks for checking out the ideas. Feel free to share your thoughts.