As detailed on GamePolitics and Ian Bogost, Debate Night is a Zuma-esq take on the ’08 American Presidential Campaign’s televised debates, allowing the player to take the role of Barack Obama. Though I’d initially thought of it as a Obama-themed Zuma knock-off, Bogost raises an interesting point:
“The game both acts as a quality piece of interactive media in support of the campaign and a subtle critique of the process itself, since the issues themselves matter less in the campaign than the way they are repositioned.” source
I hadn’t thought about it that way and it has made me reconsider it for the Innovation piece I’m writing.
So I’ve been working on this thing. It’s a project that I thought of to make use of all the video footage I shot while doing regular volunteering at the Croy Historical Society. I haven’t been back in ages, partly because I’ve been busy with stuff but also because after having pestered everyone with my Handycam I didn’t want to come back without anything to show for it. But now I have something to show, and it’s about bloody time too.
Using the cursor keys (the arrows near the number pad on the right half of the keyboard) you can move the character around what is a crude tilemap representation of the building in which the C.H.S. meet. I plan to add staff and visitors, transitions between areas, etc, as the program grows, and embed video that appears when speaking to those people in the game.
This is already far more complex than anything I’ve ever made in Adobe Flash but I’m now certain that I’m going to finish it.
I hate the tabloid press, or any media forms that deliberately seek to mislead people to further their own goals. So, to highlight this poor or inaccurate reporting and further my academic studies I created my “Tabloid Text Claustrophobia” Unreal Tournament 2004 map. The user is surrounded on all sides by impassable barriers of tabloid text. Gaps exist in the text, but there isn’t any real way out. As the user moves through the text from one section to the next they are met by another area of text. Each section represents a different issue that the U.K. tabloid press either did an extremely poor job reporting, or which they deliberately create a scandal to sell more newspapers.
I had to use a few tricks to get it to submission standard. UnrealEd would crash constantly or refuse to load the map successfully if I used invisible walls that constrained the player, so I had to make invisible walls that were easily jumped. I unbound the jump key to avoid players leaping outside the intended area. I wanted to remove the players weapons, but to avoid scripting I simply unbound the fire buttons and hid the gun in the UI options.
For my 2007 end of course exhibition I decided that I would try to make a piece of art that would highlight the cost to the planet of leaving electrical appliances on standby. I tried a few things, but eventually stuck on the photos I’d been taking of the LEDs present in objects left in a ‘stand by’ state. By cranking up the exposure and taking the photos with as little background light as possible I was able to create images like the one you see here. I used these images to create an Adobe Flash game that rewarded the player for switching off (read: clicking on) these LED lights. The more lights switched off, the higher the score you would accrue.
This is the start of my interest in games as a medium to express a social or ideological message, the eventual subject of my dissertation while at the University of the West of Scotland. Having done some research on the subject since then I can see ways that I could have made it better. While you are switching off lights, just rewarding the player with a score doesn’t demonstrate the environmental impact of appliances on stand by mode.
edit: To save bandwidth I’ve removed this file from the site as I created it without taking its size into consideration. It can be seen and played in full here. It’s a 4.5Mb SWF file so it may take some time to display on even quite fast connections. If you want to download the SWF file directly you can do so here.