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Are Browser Games Filling the Same Role As Political Cartoons? 33

Posted by Soulskill
from the pointing-out-our-leaders'-flaws-with-flash dept.
Amazon's Game Room Blog is running a piece asking whether modern browser games are coming to occupy the same purpose as political cartoons. The article was inspired by the variety of shoe-tossing games that sprung up after President Bush's recent run-in with an irate Iraqi journalist, as well as the games satirizing aspects of the presidential campaign and candidates. Quoting: "The games are certainly no works of art, but they were not designed to be awe inspiring. They were instead designed to capture the moment, and immortalize it from a particular point of view that people in this particular time can appreciate, or at least recognize. ... just like the satirical editorial comics of our own past, these snippets of code will offer a window into the past, and the individually conceived past moments that it consists of."
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Are Browser Games Filling the Same Role As Political Cartoons?

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  • by jaxtherat (1165473)

    Some of the more subtle political satire can not really be made into a game, or if it was the game would be really boring.

  • Yes and No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anthony_Cargile (1336739) on Monday December 22, 2008 @04:09AM (#26198121) Homepage
    These little flash-based games come a dime a dozen these days, and the fact that they are starting to fill such subtle niches are no surprise. That said, political cartoons are arguably read by a larger portion of the population due to their printed nature, but I could easily see the internet (a.k.a. "a series of tubes", Al "manbearpig" Gore's creation) completely replacing printed materials, especially newspapers, in the very near future making something like this inevitable.

    Games, despite the prevalence of these little Flash-based ones, will probably not replace printed political cartoons as quickly as regular images and videos over the internet, but I could easily be wrong if I underestimate their popularity among regular (e.g. over age 12) users.

    That said, does anyone here have a link to a website that propagates these Flash-based satirical games on a frequent basis for my own personal evaluation?
    • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Monday December 22, 2008 @04:59AM (#26198313)

      There are games that plausibly serve some sort of editorializing function, and then there are games that just reference recent events, usually as a gimmick. Many of the recent Bush-shoe-throwing games are of the second sort---there is no real editorial commentary going on, it's just a generic arcade game that's been skinned with Bush and shoes. There were similarly content-free games that came out after 9/11, mostly based around revenge fantasies where you got to punch bin Laden or something.

      There are some good examples of games that actually use the gameplay to make some sort of editorial point, though. From a right-wing perspective, in Al Quaidamon [newgrounds.com], you can treat a terrorist prisoner well or poorly, and a meter shows his current status. The political point is made in the balance: unless you coddle him continuously, you fall below the levels market as Geneva Convention standards (which are, incidentally, depicted as being above average U.S. living standards). From a more left-wing perspective, Airport Security [shockwave.com] satirizes the post-9/11 airport security measures through its gameplay, by depicting the changing standards of what's banned this week as absurd and impossible to follow.

      (I got both of those examples from this list [gatech.edu].)

      • by mattwarden (699984) on Monday December 22, 2008 @11:27AM (#26201629) Homepage

        > From a more left-wing perspective, Airport Security satirizes the
        > post-9/11 airport security measures

        How is that left-wing?

        • by gurps_npc (621217)
          Because typically the right wing thinks that national security is worth giving up some personal liberty (except when it comes to personal guns).
          • Because typically the right wing thinks that national security is worth giving up some personal liberty (except when it comes to personal guns).

            Actually, right wing people thing that personal guns enhance national security. To be more accurate, the right wing assumption is that criminals and terrorists will be able to get guns anyway (they can get illegal drugs, for example), and it would be better if their potential victims were armed too.

          • Please don't call those people "right wing." Personal liberty has always been a conservative ideal. Though, I am glad to see that Democrats -- when not in power -- also support the idea to some degree. Let's see what they do when they're in power.

            • Please don't call those people "right wing." Personal liberty has always been a conservative ideal.

              No, personal liberty has always been the defining liberal ideal, which is where both "liberal" and "libertarian" (an ideology which, as its adherents see it, seeks to reclaim the ideals of classical liberalism) get their names. Conservatism originated as a reaction against liberalism and its ideas about personal liberty, and in the defense of the special privileges of the monarchs and aristocrats as essential

            • by gurps_npc (621217)
              Totally wrong. Personal liberty has always been a LIBERTARIAN ideal. Neither liberals nor conservatives philosophy dealt with it. The Republican party and many conservative have for a long time spread lies claiming to be a 'libertarian-light', while spreading lies about what Liberals think. Both sets of propaganda are false. Look up the definition of Conservative and Liberal in a dictionary. Conservative: disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, an
              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                by Lordnerdzrool (884216)

                Except their abortion position actually /violates/ the individual liberty of the human-being being killed for no reason other than being at the wrong place at the wrong time. They pander to certain groups, even if it goes against what their ideology technically stands for, just like everyone else.

        • In the climate of the past few years, it's been mainly Democrats objecting to Bush-administration War-on-Terror measures. But it's also of course a libertarian position.

    • by BenoitRen (998927)

      I could easily see the internet (a.k.a. "a series of tubes", Al "manbearpig" Gore's creation) completely replacing printed materials, especially newspapers, in the very near future

      Funny, people were saying this 10 years ago, too.

  • by Jugalator (259273) on Monday December 22, 2008 @04:10AM (#26198123) Journal

    Doh. Not the same role as political cartoons in particular. This is called political satire. Yes, cartoons, web games, caricatures, it's all part of it. Why the comparison to cartoons in specific? Watch the big picture, please.

  • Wow political cartoons being transposed to another medium? Go figure. I guess I needed it pointed out to me...

    Satirical music, movies, short films, commercials, The Onion, Daily Show, Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonators, Dick Cheney himself....

    There are nearly unlimited media for politics to be made into satire within. The day where print only occupied jocular political rhetoric in the media died nearly a century ago. Games having political satire are old news, look at the jokes in Fallout or Grand Theft Au

  • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Monday December 22, 2008 @04:50AM (#26198271)

    In the academic field of game studies (analogous to film studies, though much smaller), the idea of games as rhetoric/etc. has been discussed for several years. Probably the most prominent academic who also makes games in that vein is Ian Bogost, who explicitly describes a lot of what he does [bogost.com] as making "playable editorial cartoons". The New York Times for a while was actually publishing them on its online editorial page, strengthening the analogy (until a change of editor). He also happens to have a book on the somewhat broader subject of games as a means of commentary/expression/rhetoric, Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames (MIT Press, 2007).

    There is also an index here [gatech.edu] of editorial-style "newsgames", i.e. games about recent news events released in a timely manner that make some editorial commentary about the event.

    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      by Hognoxious (631665)

      In the academic field of game studies

      *Rolls eyes*. I guess that's where the people who drop out from feminist basketweaving end up.

  • Not art? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by subreality (157447) on Monday December 22, 2008 @05:52AM (#26198499)

    no works of art ... instead designed to capture the moment, and immortalize it from a particular point of view that people in this particular time can appreciate, or at least recognize.

    Perhaps it's not beautiful or refined, but I'd say that's art, almost by definition.

  • by Gopal.V (532678) on Monday December 22, 2008 @06:16AM (#26198601) Homepage Journal

    Political satire has always found enough outlets. The web is just the modern equivalent of a guy with a basement mimeograph churning out pictures of politicians with their heads up their parties. And lowering the barrier to entry and the increasing the exposure/audience just adds up in a way that the baby boomers aren't used to (IMHO). Yeah, web is basically a complex with a mansion upfront, a huge backyard & enough fences to slow down the more agile.

    On a related note, I keep occasionally hitting Sock & Awe [sockandawe.com], just for kicks. Ironic that nobody jumped in front of the shoe.

  • http://portal.wecreatestuff.com/ [wecreatestuff.com]

    This is a great flash game, and all of it's maps were ported to Portal proper.
  • If mean spreading hate, lies, and disinformation biased to the creators belief, being one-sided and often one dimensional and completely ignoring the facts, then I would say yes.

    • If mean spreading hate, lies, and disinformation biased to the creators belief, being one-sided and often one dimensional and completely ignoring the facts, then I would say yes.

      Now are you basing your facts of this universe or the the 8th dimension because I will have some of what you are smoking. There was nothing factually wrong with the game "sockandawe". Someone threw a shew, someone dodged. Basic mechanics for a game if you ask me.

      • by DaveV1.0 (203135)

        That game is designed to demean a particular politician.

        How about the other games that are out there, such as the anti-insurgent/terrorist suppression game. It is not based on any facts, but claims to model how terrorists are created. Of course, it does not show how terrorists killing others results in counter attacks. No, that would be to real and would not support their contention, which appears to be "Ignore them killing others and they will go away."

        And, the same goes for most political cartoons which u

        • by Chih (1284150)

          ...most political cartoons which use ad homonym attacks, misrepresentations, denigration, and derision...

          I agree completely with your entire post, except it's ad hominem.

  • I had the bush shoe-throwing game up the same day it happened:

    http://ridiculopathy.com/crappy_flash_games.php?gamename=bushoes

    The response basically broke my crappy comments system.

    The Sarah Palin thing was earlier with awful production values and no taste or tact at all.

    http://ridiculopathy.com/crappy_flash_games.php?gamename=sarah

  • by writerjosh (862522) * on Monday December 22, 2008 @02:38PM (#26204203) Homepage

    I think Flash political games will unfortunately fall to the dustbin of history. Just the mere fact that technology changes and Flash (.swf, etc) will almost certainly become obsolete in favor of the latest and greatest file format of the future. Flash will become the .mov or .avi of the internet world. Will Flash games be preserved? Who will take the time and effort to convert them to the new file format? How many times have you encountered a Flash error even today?...Much less the future.

    As for static cartoons in .jpg or .gif format, at the very least, these tend to survive because of their stability and wide-spread acceptance that doesn't seem to be waning.

    Besides, those Flash games can be a little...childish(?). Whereas a cartoon has a long history of being "acceptable" to adults. Ironic, but true.

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