Global Games: Games and Politics

Global Games: Games and Politics
Iranian Parliament nationalizes Oil Industry © Peter Brinson and Kurosh ValaNejad, 2011

Interactive Exhibition with and on Video Games

Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata

The interactive exhibition Games & Politics, on display at the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata February 5th – 28th, 2019, encourages the visitor to try out sixteen significant politically-ambitious video games and examine how they each unfold their unique political potential. Video games can be seen as pure entertainment, as political statements, or even as art. The political aspect of these games becomes visible to the players either directly as they make political decisions (Game: Democracy III) or indirectly as they witness social injustices. For example, the games address precarious labour conditions (Game: Sunset), gender issues (Game: Perfect Woman), and the treatment of refugees (Game: Escape from Woomera). The games lead the players into political struggles such as the revolution against a totalitarian system (Game: Yellow Umbrella), and confront them with the surveillance state (Game: Touchtone) and the consequences of armed conflicts (Game: This War of Mine). Adopting the characters of often-marginalized people, players experience limited possibilities and negative sanctions through both the character and the game play. The selected games cover a wide range of political topics. Visitors can also view an introductory film about political games and short documentaries about some of the games. The accompanying exhibition catalogue provides background information on the unifying concepts of these independent games.

Games and Politics is an exhibition, which focuses on explicitly political games created since 2004. That year marks a significant rift for Ian Bogost, a media researcher. The 2004 US presidential elections, Bogost argues, coincided with the first explicitly political and activist utterance by the medium. In contrast to the representational media such as painting and photography, computer games conceive of themselves not merely as a (re-) presentation of social conditions and conflicts, but attempts to simulate the processes and rules that give rise to these conflicts. All the games included in this exhibition share this political approach, which is intended by the games’ designers to set them clearly apart from both the conventional market as well as from computer games as an entertainment medium.

Video games have long since established themselves as their own art form. Artists use the medium to release the latter’s functionality for observation and explore the limits of the game. Game designers turn to new topics and audiences. And the major museums are discovering the computer game as a cultural asset to be collected and preserved. The exhibition, which was developed by the Goethe-Institut together with the ZKM (Center for Art and Media) on the basis of the ZKM exhibition "Global Games", examines how computer games unfold their political potential and asks them about the possibilities and limitations of the genre to design an opposite position within the entertainment industry.

The exhibition comprises 18 video games out of which visitors can actively play and try out 16 games on computer terminals or just watch them as videos. Discussions, talks and workshops accompany the exhibition.

The exhibition will be inaugurated at Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata Auditorium on Tuesday, 5 February 2019 at 6:30 pm.

Timings: 5-28 February 2019, 11.00 am to 6:30 pm (daily, except for public holidays and Sundays)

Open to all

This exhibition is brought to Kolkata and presented by the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan and is part of “The Kolkata Festival” as well as a collateral for the “CIMA Awards”.


Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan Kolkata

Park Mansions, Gate 4
57A, Park Street
700 016 Kolkata