Unintelligent design

Marxist video game reviews

This is just lovely: the Maoist Internationalist Movement website runs reviews of video games, in which it carefully picks apart the running-dog capitalist assumptions that undergird the major war and sim titles. Sim City, for example, has “completely bourgeois assumptions”; and while the reviewer kind of enjoys Microsoft’s Rise of Nations, he admits that “to sell a game modeling how to achieve peace and harmony is a lot to ask our gaming bourgeoisie at the moment”. The reviews are both a) unintentionally gut-bustingly funny, and yet b) oddly perceptive at times, though a) tends to overshadow b).

My personal favorite is the review of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, in which the writer just completely loses his shit:

It is far easier to use your powers to steal, than to do charity. The game is far easier if you “go capitalistic,” which clearly points to early indoctrination conspiracy by the fascists.

Throughout the game, the player is pitted in fights against common people, where s/he is shown that to resist the powerful means certain death. The deception is perfect, since the player is the power and this pries his/her mind open to indoctrination even more.

As is well known for the fascist bastards, they take enjoyment in killing others, and the game rewards the player for killing common people. In fact, it is not possible to progress in the game without killing commoners, and the manufacturer plainly tells the player: those who have the courage to kill, are strong. Those who don’t are weak.

In one part of the game, the player fights for money—to the death. This serves well to illustrate the society, where money is everything and human life is worth nothing. The worth of a corpse is solely a function of its persynal properties, which have to be looted to advance in the game.

All in all, the Cossacks/Knights of the Old Republic is one of the most manipulative pieces of software ever devised. It leeches morality of young minds and prepares them to kill their peers to prevent a revolution. After all… the strong fascist knight shall always win.

(Thanks to Boing Boing for this one!)

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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