The Goethe-Institute´s exhibition Games and Politics is intended to close this gap, at least in part. Games and Politics was produced in 2016 and is based on the exhibition Global Games by the ZKM (Zentrum für Kunst und Medien) in Karlsruhe, Germany. The exhibition curators selected politically ambitious computer games, created between 2004 and 2016, and which explore the limits and possibilities of the genre. Computer games conceive of themselves not merely as a (re-)presentation of social conditions and conflicts, but attempt to simulate the processes and rules that give rise to these conflicts.
The interactive exhibition Games and Politics includes eighteen computer games, of which sixteen can be played. Visitors become players and experience firsthand how the games affect them. The games deal with topics such as media criticism, migration, power relations, gender roles and militarism on an artistic level. They are complemented by three documentaries on the subject.
What a reading is for literature, a "playthrough" is for computer games. On three evenings, selected games are played live, the course of the game is classified and commented on by Cypriot and German experts, and questions from the audience are answered. The award-winning games Papers, Please! and Orwell as well as Perfect Woman are presented and discussed. While the simulation of bureaucracy, Papers, Please!, deals with working at the border crossing of a dictatorial regime, Orwell deals with the dystopic consequences of digital surveillance technology and Perfect Woman humorously investigates the question of what distinguishes a perfect woman.
Osmotic Studios I 2016
The video game Orwell: Keeping an Eye on You by Osmotic Studios throws the player into a world where surveillance is part of everyday life. In the fictional state "The Nation", which is led by the dictatorial regime called “The Party”, citizens are spied on by the surveillance system “Orwell". Through this surveillance system, so-called “Investigators” and their "Advisors" filter and evaluate the communication of suspected persons. The particular twist: The Investigators sit outside of “The Nation”, as spies recruited abroad. The player takes on the role of an investigator who should analyze the data of suspects after a terror attack. In the process the player is never fully aware of all the incidents, but is dependent on the information and instructions given by the advisor. Quickly the question arises: who is spying on whom.
Peter Lu & Lea Schönfelder | 2014
The game Perfect Woman deals playfully with the diverse and often conflicting expectations of society towards the role of women.
The player runs through the life of a woman from birth to death, divided into different parts. At the beginning of each part the player can choose between four options with different difficulty levels. The role model proposals differ from the cliché as a princess (medium difficulty) to a more atypical role like a Pro Gamer (easy) or as a Minister of Foreign Affairs (difficult).
Next, tracked by Kinect the player must use their movements to bend into the positions required by the simulator – no easy task depending on the chosen role. Players learn the hard way: each of women's roles requires twisting and bending in order to fulfil it. Simultaneously the game allows the player to create their own version of a “Perfect Woman” – consisting of many different facets.
Lucas Pope I 2013
In the videogame Papers, please! the player takes the role of a border guard in the dictatorial regime Arstotzka. People are waiting in long queues at the border to enter Kolechia. Based on a rulebook the player has to decide who to allow and who to deny entry. The player must verify whether the information given on the papers is true, whether the people are lying or could pose a terrorist threat. Should the player make a mistake, this could lead to sanctions like wage deductions, resulting to starvation and illness for their family. In the course of the game its rules become more complicated and the histories of those wishing to enter Kolechia more complex. Is the man with the expired work visa really just a harmless family man? Does the woman with the invalid passport really just want to visit her sick mother? The guard, in a position of power, is torn between their consciousness and fear for their existence.