There’s a new kid on the block. Meet the latest scion of the Molleindustria family, younger brother of the excellent McDonald’s Video Game and Faith Fighter.
Molleindustria is an Italian-based group of artists, programmers and designers who are making a habit of creating really interesting games. They describe their goal in stirring terms:
We can free videogames from the “dictatorship of entertainment”, using them instead to describe pressing social needs, and to express our feelings or ideas just as we do in other forms of art. But if we want to express an alternative to dominant forms of gameplay we must rethink game genres, styles and languages. The ideology of a game resides in its rules, in its invisible mechanics, and not only in its narrative parts. That’s why a global renewal of this medium will be anything but easy.
Whether you agree with their political views or not, the work they have produced is significant. Their games are strong editorial statements. And they don’t make the point through art design, dialogue, or plot. The only stories in these games are yours – your experiences as you play.
“The ideology of a game resides in its rules, in its invisible mechanics, and not only in its narrative parts.” That’s the key. Molleindustria’s designers have grasped an essential truth about video games: interactivity itself can be a means of communication.
Oiligarchy accomplishes this quite neatly, and like most Molleindustria games it is firmly toungue in cheek. You are the CEO of a major oil company, and you’ve got to keep your shareholders happy by meeting rising demand for oil. At first it’s enough to sink a couple of wells in Texas. But as the suburbs expand and demand rises, you’ve got to start drilling in more and more unsavoury places. Terrorizing activists. Buying wars. That kind of stuff. Eventually . . . well, there are various places online where you can find out how the game ends, but this isn’t one of them.
One place that you will find the info is Molleindustria’s own post-mortem essay on the game.