Of all creative media, games are the one least likely to treat with current events. Topical games are a hard sell – it’s tough to get consumers to go for comparatively sober stuff like Budget Hero - but adding too much sanguinity can put you over the line of good taste, a criticism levelled by many at Atomic’s still-unreleased Six Days In Fallujah.
If you remember the guest post that Red Wasp Design producer Tomas Rawlings wrote for us about WWI battlefield medicine, then you’ll recall that Rawlings is a game designer that’s unusually fixated on the intersection between games and real life. If anybody is up for tackling the challenge of making a ludic commentary on today’s headlines, it’s him.
Game The News is the latest product of that fixation. By creating topical free games using rapid prototyping techniques, Rawlings hopes to give you another avenue to explore current events – one that eschews simple sound bites and embraces the real complexity and often self-contradictory nature of politics and conflict.
With Endgame Syria, Rawlings’ Game The News project is cracking quite a big nut – given the fluid nature of the ongoing conflict. “We wanted the events and actions in the game to mirror the real situation,” Rawlings says, “So while creating this experience, we were also continually looking at the news and adding or removing components to keep the content current.”
As Nassim Nicholas Taleb would remind us – a simulation is only as good as the data going into it. As such, you ought to take the specifics of Endgame Syria with a significant grain of salt. But if it causes you to reconsider a news story you’d forgotten about, then I suspect Rawlings will have fulfilled his purpose.
Tomas Rawlings talks more about Endgame Syria in the video below, and you can get Endgame Syria for free on Android right now – an iOS version will be along “imminently”.