Notes   /   30 November 2018

Hanging out at the GOP Arcade

Today, we're discussing the web games at These are games with clear political purposes, but rather than focusing on their aesthetic merits or ludic engagement, I want to think about they exploit procedural rhetoric to make appeals in favor of or against specific ideologies or ideas about how the world works.

In a small group discussion, choose two games to compare. You can do this randomly, or you could choose two that you found particularly affective, offensive, or whatever. It doesn't matter, really.

For each of those two games, start by creating an inventory of all of the game mechanics you can identify, think of these as verbs that can be carried out by the player. There might only be a few for some of these games.

Then, make a list of processes that are either implied or demonstrated for each of the mechanics, and discuss how those processes should be interpreted ideologically.

Finally, compare and contrast each of your games' processes and compare the ways in which they use game mechanics to make their ideas.

Are the game mechanics demonstrating how the world should work, or showing how badly it fails to work? Do the mechanics put the player in a position of power or of oppression? Does a sense of power from the real world correspond to the distribution of agency in the game, or is it intentionally tilted in some way?

Ultiately, be prepared to share your conclusion with the rest of the class. Between the two games you discuss, which is more effective or compelling rhetorically? Why?