Play with a Purpose: Politics and Art in Video Games -- July on -empyre-

Posted by Michael Arnold Mages | Thu Jul 1st 2004 8:45 a.m.

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The violence of the video game world is thrown sharply into relief when
characters do not represent the cultural hegemony typically seen in a
First-Person Shooter. "Play" does not necessarily equal "amusement" or
"humour" in these games; the opportunity to put on an identity that sees a
formerly friendly (?) world as oppositional can be shocking.

Based on the struggles of a Palestinian youth during the Intifadah,
UnderAsh [ http://www.underash.net/edownload.htm ] and Under Siege [
http://www.underash.net/n_download.htm ] were created by AFKARMEDIA under
the direction of Syrian co-founder, programmer Radwan Kasmiya. Kasmiya
also acts as media advisor for the Middle-Eastern publisher DAR AL-FIKR.

Depicting the plight of a foreign asylum-seeker in Australia, Escape from
Woomera [ http://www.escapefromwoomera.org/ ] asks a player to attempt to
break out of four refugee detention centers. Melbourne-based Kipper is
the Creative Director from the development team.

Rafael Fajardo explores the complexity of the real-world US/Mexico border
situation through the paired games Crosser and La Migra [
http://www.du.edu/~rfajardo/juego/index.html ]. The games depict border
crossings from the point of view of the illegal immigrant, and as a border
patrol agent who attempts to prevent the crossing.

Collaborative group C-level has produced Waco Resurrection [
http://waco.c-level.org/ ]. Two of the developers, Los Angeles-based
artists Brody Condon and Eddo Stern will join us, examining issues of
colonialism, violence, and documentary versus fictive presentation.

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