Occupy Catan

I’m often writing about how games can be political. Like the CRPG about being a refugee, or the game about moving people to Auschwitz. Now we’ve got Catan: Oil Springs, which brings environmental degredation to the wonderful world of sheep for wood. (Note: link leads to PDF download of rules).

Preachy? Maybe. But you CAN still win as long as the entire island isn’t polluted. If anything, the game suggests that environmental destruction is totally an acceptable risk.

And that’s what games can and should be for. As Stephen Fry said, history is about imagination, not facts, about putting yourself in another time, place and position, in your heart and mind.  Games do that better than anything, by simply entangling your win condition with non-abstract goals. And politics is all about how the other half lives, and how we balance their needs with ours, and how we communicate across those lines.

The question isn’t can games be political. It’s why haven’t we noticed they’ve ALWAYS been political. Indeed, the first version of Monopoly was designed to be broken, to teach kids monopolies end up hurting more than they help. That’s WHY the gameplay sucks so much. Most people missed the point, of course, but I think the same could be said of say, Das Kapital.

Steve, putting the Revolution in the Dance Dance

 

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