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Italian artists Molleindustria promise "radical games against the dictatorship of entertainment," and their latest effort may be their most direct statement against the pleasure industry to date. Touted as "playable theory," the Free Culture Game offers a ludic metaphor for the battle between copyright encroachments and the free exchange of knowledge, ideas and art. A circular field represents The Common, where knowledge can be freely shared and created; your job is to maintain a healthy ecology of yellow idea-bubbles bouncing from person to person before they can be sucked into the dark outer ring representing the forces of The Market. Your cursor, shaped like the Creative Commons logo, pushes the ideas around with a sort of reverse-magnetic repulsion field (a clever alternative to the typical shooting, eating or jumping-on-top-of-and-smooshing actions of many other 2-D games). People who absorb free, round ideas stay green and happy, while those who only consume square market-produced ones become grey and inverted. The game never really ends: you can only do better or worse, suggesting by analogy that the fight for free culture will be an ongoing struggle without end. For those who wish to kill additional worktime minutes, Molleindustria's site includes an archive of past games, which take on topics such as the clash of religions, the Catholic Church pedophile scandal, flextime, labor and their notorious take on McDonald's, a cute simulator that takes you from slaughterhouse to boardroom. - Ed Halter

Image: Free Culture Game (Screenshot)

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Charlie Mylie Sept. 24 2008 19:35Reply

There is an end. If you get all of the people in the Commons field then then capital drive blows up and there is a quote which I accidentally clicked past. I am not in the mood to play long enough to see it again…

ed halter Sept. 25 2008 09:10Reply

Oops–my mistake. Clearly I was not tenacious enough to get there, and free culture will never prevail on my watch.

Vijay Pattisapu Sept. 25 2008 04:03Reply

and Aslan represents Jesus.

ed halter Sept. 25 2008 12:01Reply

Please do explain your point, unless you are merely representing trollkind. I'm curious–is it a critique of the game?

Vijay Pattisapu Sept. 26 2008 17:44Reply

Hi Ed,

Yes, the game. Allegory is cheap.

One might object that they’re just trying to be funny, like Faith Fighter before it ( http://www.molleindustria.org/faith-fighter ), which I thought was funny, especially the Allah / Muhammad toggle at the beginning, given the death threats cartoonists were getting at the time for as much. What took Baudrillard a whole essay to explore (http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=385) took Molle Industria 2 seconds of a flash game to hit the nail on the head.

This game, on the other hand, didn’t seem so witty to me. Not because the topic is so terribly serious (the division between “serious” and “frivolous” is anti-creative yet increasingly symptomatic of our age (cf. my inconsistencies on this at http://rhizome.org/discuss/view/37549/)). Rather, the elaborate textual intro and symbolism make it feel like propaganda. A joke is an epigram on the death of the feeling, as Nietzsche put it, yet the feelings here, unlike those of Faith Fighter, are a one-way street, if that makes sense. I admit, “they just ain’t makin’ fun o’ nothin’!” is a pretty trollish complaint. But the look and feel, the bright colors, the cartoonish sound effects, and the fact that it’s a video game would all seem to suggest that playfulness and joking are not completely out of the pale here, so to critique a joke on how funny it is, is, I think, fair.

On a different note, your remark contextualizing the reverse-magnet element is interesting. Yet their metaphor itself is a little odd. If I can be allowed another admittedly prissy hangup: copyright laws by themselves have so far not shown themselves to attract or repel much in the way of ideas or artistic creations on the Internet (please correct me if I’m wrong!). They’re more like dykes and conduits that either guide or restrict things moving autonomously – and the levees break often. Anyway, all that is beyond the scope of allegory, both in this post and in that game.


Rob Myers Sept. 26 2008 18:27Reply

A pro-commons game under a NonCommercial license?