Amazon’s Game Room Blog recently did a piece on viewing flash games as political cartoons. With about 5,000 flash games out now depicting the George W. Bush shoe throwings, I can see why someone might tend to see flash games like that in the same vein as political cartoons. I think the writer of the article is taking things a little too seriously though.

They were instead designed to capture the moment, and immortalize it from a particular point of view that people in this particular time can appreciate, or at least recognize

Wrong. The majority of flash games depicting real life events are not made to “capture a moment.” They are made to make money. Every Bush shoe throwing game I have played has been complete and utter shit. These flash game developers are simply capitalizing off of a current event. Even the developer of the most popular shoe throwing game, Sock and Awe, has stated his intentions.

It was just a bit of fun, a bit of an experiment. It’s actually turned out to be a useful fundraising exercise for our start-up, which is good given the present economic circumstances.

Sock and Awe was sold on eBay about four days after its release for almost $8,000. In some of the other games I have played, the ad space is almost bigger than the game window. I have no problem with this, because people do need to make money, but I don’t think flash games are anywhere near the realm of political cartoon. There is no concern or attention paid to why the shoe is being thrown. The plight of Iraq’s citizens goes unheard, because the Western world thinks that shoe throwing is just plain hilarious. Games like this don’t care why a shoe was thrown, they just seek to make a quick advertising buck off the event.

When a political cartoon is created, it is not simply documenting an event as much as it is documenting an opinion on an event. Political cartoons are meant to persuade the viewer. Political flash games are designed to persuade the viewer into clicking an ad. There is no legitimate social commentary in today’s flash games, so they should not be viewed as political cartoons, or anything similar.

PETA has entered the video game world. Apparently, the new Cooking Mama game really pisses them off. So, in order to protest Cooking Mama, they have made a parody of the game. To make a long blog post short, I will simply tell everyone that the the game is kinda stupid and not really worth playing.

The game has you clicking around the screen to pluck and remove organs from a turkey. The turkey is rather cartoonish, and the game combines this with excessive gore use to try and make a point. It doesnt move past basic mouse controls, but you can’t really lose the game, and don’t have to replay levels that weren’t fun the first time.

I think it’s great that PETA recognizes games as a legitimate means to make a statement, which I totally support on one hand. On the other, though, I don’t really identify with PETA, as there are far worse things that go on in this world than turkeys getting killed. Where are our games about genocide in Africa or games about our failing economy?

Persuasive games are a pretty new concept, and while PETA is recognizing the fact that games can influence people, I really don’t think that they get it. The game sucks, and by simply making a gory parody of an existing game, they aren’t really accomplish anything. PETA, if you really want to make a game that makes people think, make something original, and make it good, otherwise, stop soiling the name of video games with your half-assed attempt at a game people will want to play.

Oh yeah…Happy fucking Thanksgiving.

Free Flash Game
Play A game of visual composition

A game of visual composition (I’m not sure if that’s the final title or not) is a project by agj. It is reminiscent of a click & drag puzzle game, but instead of patterns of 3 or 4, the goal is to fare well against graphic design standards.

By applying basic graphic design parameters, like symmetry and rhythm, the game throws out the traditional point system for traditional concepts of design. You can see how well you fared once you complete your design, but it is somewhat difficult to figure out which icons represent which standard.

This is definitely a game which almost flirts with the possibility of “edutainment,” something a lot of people aren’t exactly sure can be done well. Because it is based off real design concepts, hypothetically, if you are good at graphic design, you should be good at the game. I think it would be interesting to see if that holds true. Using a game to measure someone’s skill in a field is an idea I really find interesting. It’s essentially applying a real world skill in a virtual world. I would hardly consider “whooping ass in Tekken” a skill, and would like to see more games that rely on real world knowledge.

A game of visual composition is something that is being worked on fairly frequently, and I really hope to see what it will become. I personally think it would be cool to integrate a way to export the designs you make for use as icons or banners.

Game Review: Oiligarchy

November 19, 2008

Freeware Flash Game
Play Oiligarchy

Oiligarchy is probably the best persuasive game I have played to date. You essentially take control of Big Oil right after orld War II, and turn the oil business into a global scale pillagefest. The game mimics real life in the fact that you can give the government money to allow oil drilling in Alaska, or to wage war in Iraq so that you can drill there, too. In this sense, Oiligarchy does a great job of turning real aspects of the oil industry into game aspects. For example, I understand that real oil economics isn’t just basic supply & demand, but, for the purpose of the game, it gets the job done while keeping it simple.

oiligarchy

The best thing about Oiligarchy is its message, and how the game almost plays itself. The oil industry is a horribly flawed one, and is definitely not sustainable. The better you exploit resources and make money, the sooner you will become unable to meet demand. Oiligarchy really nails this point, because even if oil is used at a sustainable level, it is still not a renewable resource. One of the largest industries in the world is becoming obsolete, and all the people in charge can do is delay the inevitable collapse.

The odd thing is that when making a game like this is that the ultimate goal is for the game to become irrelevant. The creators made this game to expose the oil industry for the horrible scam that it is, and if we ever reach a point where we are independent from oil, this game will serve as only a reminder of what once was. While the game will still contain the same message, any contemporary relevance will be gone.

The Darker Side of MochiAds

November 11, 2008

I have recently been toying around with Flash, and looking at the ways Flash games make money. The biggest player in the monetization of Flash games is MochiAds. Anyone who has ever played a Flash game has probably seen the ads that popup before the game loads. This is a pretty simple to integrate, and generally easy way to make money. Or so I thought until I read the terms of service…One part in particular bothers me.

By submitting User Submissions to Mochi Media, or displaying, publishing, or otherwise posting any content on or through the Service, you hereby do and shall grant Mochi Media an irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully paid, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, modify, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, perform, and otherwise fully exploit the User Submissions in connection with the Service and Mochi Media’s (and its successors and assigns) business, including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the Service (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.

In non-legal terms, that means that MochiAds can do pretty much whatever they want to do with your game. Say some big company buys MochiAds…that would mean that the big company in question would have free license to use your game however they see fit.

This means that I could make a Flash game, and have it be a huge hit. I could make some decent money off the Flash version of the game, but MochiAds, or whoever buys them out, could go to Nintendo and make ten times the amount of money I made on a Wii port. That is a purely hypothetical situation, but it is not impossible, and due to the terms most developers agree to, entirely feasible.

Would I like to make a living making games that I want to make, yes. Do I want to put my hard work at risk of being stolen from me, no.