YOUR FAVE IS COMMUNISTIC – Ep.2: DA:I’s Solas (Ft. Alice Bell)

In this episode of Your Fave is Communistic, I try to convince games journalist Alice Bell that Solas from Dragon Age: Inquisition is a Communist, in what I think is some of my finest work yet.

Alice’s Twitter

[DISCLAIMER: ANY NONSENSICAL CONNECTIONS MADE BETWEEN VIDEO GAMES AND COMMUNIST THEMES, ZEALOUS AND SELF-RIGHTEOUS DICTATOR-ESQUE BEHAVIORS, AND PERCEIVED SUPPORT AND/OR APOLOGISM OF OPPRESSIVE REGIMES LIKE THE SOVIET UNION ARE PURELY INSTANCES OF SELF-SATIRE AS A MEANS OF COMICAL INTROSPECTION, AND IN SOME CASES HAVE NO BASIS IN TRUTH OR PERSONAL BELIEF.]

PolyArmoury – Episode 1: Trash Salute

Having found a new home in Mordtown, our adventurers start their first day at the PolyArmoury. Vendirak send them out to sell traps to the newest dungeon lord in town.

Join Mistress Jane as she guides Valarie (George Johnson – jaffameister.com), Brilmara (Laura Kate Dale –
letsplayvideogames.com), and Thrall on their various quests in the Underdark hamlet of Mordtown.

PolyArmoury – Prologue

With their home, already under siege from small minded, petty bureaucrats and an orc pimp with a grudge. Madame Valarie, her lover Brilmara and their lover and consensual slave boy, Thrall, flee in the middle of the night when their town is destroyed by human forces wielding powerful magics.

Join Mistress Jane as she guides Valarie (George Johnson – jaffameister.com), Brilmara (Laura Kate Dale –
letsplayvideogames.com), and Thrall on their journey to find a new home and some really good fried rat. 

Review – AdVenture Communist

AdVenture Communist is merely a tool of Capitalization masquerading poorly as “the world’s greatest communism simulator!” and it makes my red blood boil.

AdVenture Communist is the sequel to Hyper Hippo Games’ AdVenture Capitalist, which I made my thoughts about very clear in my feature on Capitalist propaganda video games.

And while on its surface, this sequel might seem to be more my sort of thing (and initially piqued my interest) I’m here to tell you otherwise: AdVenture Communist makes me angry. Why? Because its thin veneer of Communist themes is nothing but a sham. Allow me to explain.

AdVenture Communist is relatively simple in regards to its mechanics: it’s a clicker game with resource management, where you maintain the production of five different state resources: potatoes, land, ore, weapons, and medicine. You do this by clicking, with each click creating one of that resource, and filling up an upgrade bar that you can redeem after a certain value has been reached to increase the multiplier of resources-per-click.

You eventually work your way up to using these resources, as well as another base resource called Comrades, representing the number of general workers that you have available, to purchase specialized workers that obtain those resources automatically without you needing to click. On top of this, you can use Scientists, a sort of currency (we’ll get onto that) that you use to expand the technology that you have available to maximize your clicks: improved base multiplier buttons for your resources, temporary mega-boosts to resources-per-click for a limited time, and even automatic clickers.

This all then feeds into resource expansions, that give you more of the expansion preceding it, which give you more than the expansion preceding it, and so on. For instance, you buy Communes to give you more farmers, Collectives to give you  more Communes, Plantations to give you more Collectives… you get the jist. You also get one mega-expansion that you can claim every six hours real-time to gain a Scientist.

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Notice anything familiar? Understandable: AdVenture Communist  is effectively a restructured re-skin of AdVenture Capitalist. There are a few minor differences, but we largely see the same elements: resources replace investments, expansions replace managers, and so on. And if it wasn’t enough that AdVenture Communist  is a Capitalist propaganda video game wearing a budenovka and a hammer-sickle shirt, the game also comes with its own set of problems.

Many of them are quite small but come at the expense of attempted improvements, like being able to hold down the mouse button to produce resources, but not to produce specialized workers, which seems like quite an RSI-inducing oversight. Others are quite inherent in the game’s mechanics, like alleged bugs poor multiplier balancing late-game. But worst of all?

Like its predecessor, AdVenture Communist has pay-to-win microtransactions.

Remember those Scientists we talked about? The resource that lets you purchase quite significant progression boosters? Well, if you go to the shop in-game, you can buy them. With quantities and prices ranging from sixty Scientists for $1.99, to twenty thousand scientists for $99.99.

This fucking clicker game gives you the option of spending a hundred dollars in one go on upgrades that relieve you of the need to click on things. It was already present and absurd in AdVenture Capitalist, but in a game  that claims to be “the world’s greatest communism simulator,” and the “most glorious game ever,” it becomes an especially evident farce.

AdVenture Communist is nothing but an attempt by the Bourgeoisie Hyper Hippo Games to capitalize off of the glorious aesthetics and themes of Communism, and it does so with such gall and blatancy that I need to listen to Laborwave to calm down from the anger.

[DISCLAIMER: ANY NONSENSICAL CONNECTIONS MADE BETWEEN VIDEO GAMES AND COMMUNIST THEMES, ZEALOUS AND SELF-RIGHTEOUS DICTATOR-ESQUE BEHAVIORS, AND PERCEIVED SUPPORT AND/OR APOLOGISM OF OPPRESSIVE REGIMES LIKE THE SOVIET UNION ARE PURELY INSTANCES OF SELF-SATIRE AS A MEANS OF COMICAL INTROSPECTION, AND IN SOME CASES HAVE NO BASIS IN TRUTH OR PERSONAL BELIEF.]

 

Four Capitalist Propaganda Video Games

The Triple-A games industry is a propaganda machine for the Capitalist ruling class. Here are a few examples of its worst offenders.

The world that we live in today is dominated by a Capitalist society. Money and discrimination are it’s primary tools, with big business corporations relying on the subjugation and slave labour of the lower classes. I believe that the Triple-A video games industry as it stands today is used in part as a propaganda device in order to brainwash the people into believing that any ideology outside of capitalism is evil, and here are some of the worst offenders (in no particular order, because as filthy and Capitalistic as they are, I will not reduce myself to implementing their methods of hierarchy.)

 

  • The Sims

The Sims is a simulation game in which you create a character, place them in a home, and attempt to make their life successful and satisfy their needs. It’s also a blatant and shameless advocate of Capitalism and Consumerism. You force your Sim(s) into jobs where they waste away their lives for measly pay checks, and what can their needs be almost entirely satisfied by? That’s right, buying things.

the-sims-capitalism

By becoming mindless consumers and contributing to the Capitalist regime, The Sims tells us that they will be truly happy. This is false consciousness! By teaching players of The Sims that their Sims will “fail” if they do not become upper-class bourgeoisie, they indoctrinate them into the mentality of submitting to their corporate overlords in order to attain true success and joy.

 

  • Any Tycoon Game

You know the culprits: RollerCoaster Tycoon, Zoo Tycoon, Airport Tycoon, Golf Tycoon, Moon Tycoon… an endless ocean of games in which the sole goal is to make as much money as possible. Of course, the aesthetic design of each Tycoon game will differ, a poor attempt to dress up it’s filthy Capitalist ways with log flumes and fluffy animals.

roller coaster tycoon world image.jpg

Take RollerCoaster Tycoon Worlds, for example. It’s evil, capitalistic indoctrination is even more insulting considering its objectively poor design and quality, a symptom of a Capitalist regime juggling the project between three different development studios to date.

 

  • AdVenture Capitalist

AdVenture Capitalist is fucking disgusting. It’s a Cookie Clicker style game in which you squeeze lemons, deliver newspapers, and run hockey teams, all to make as much money as possible. And you can even reach the stage of exploiting the working class to do your work for you! Abhorrent!

But the icing on the bourgeoisie cake is the illusion the game imposes of how easy it is to be successful in a Capitalist society; that all it takes is a few clicks and you’ll be rich, which is definitely not the case. It’s also got the word ‘Capitalist’ in it.

 

  • The Capitalism Series

And here’s the cream of the crop: Capitalism, a business simulation game series, whose first release came in 1995. The ultimate goal of the game is to become the most successful corporation in the world, while competing with other businesses in all kinds of different markets.

Two words: monopoly simulator. Y’know what monopolies are? Really, really bad for the consumer, and peak Capitalism, which deeply upsets me. And it doesn’t even try to dress up it’s name in a silly pun! It’s just Capitalism! Uninspired, and unashamed of it’s decadence.

 

So there you have it, comrades. But a handful of the filthiest, Capitalist-iest video games there are. Horrible, aren’t they? And what I consider to be excellent proof of the Triple-A’s attempts to indoctrinate the working class.

[DISCLAIMER: ANY NONSENSICAL CONNECTIONS MADE BETWEEN VIDEO GAMES AND COMMUNIST THEMES, ZEALOUS AND SELF-RIGHTEOUS DICTATOR-ESQUE BEHAVIORS, AND PERCEIVED SUPPORT AND/OR APOLOGISM OF OPPRESSIVE REGIMES LIKE THE SOVIET UNION ARE PURELY INSTANCES OF SELF-SATIRE AS A MEANS OF COMICAL INTROSPECTION, AND IN SOME CASES HAVE NO BASIS IN TRUTH OR PERSONAL BELIEF.]

Retrospective: Red Faction Guerrilla’s Positive Portrayal of Violent Revolution

Red Faction: Guerrilla is a mediocre game with above-average destructible environment physics and a surprisingly positive portrayal of the more morally-grey aspects of a violent revolution.

I have a complicated relationship with Volition’s 2009 third-person shooter, Red Faction: Guerrilla. It’s a definitively mediocre game about a people’s revolution on a colonized Mars that’s disappointing in its execution, in a setting with so much potential that wasn’t explored. The destructible environment system made possible with Geomod 2.0 is quite spectacular, and despite its limited scope compared to the first iteration of the engine, it goes a long way to drag its score slightly above a 5 out of 10.

Something that really interested me when recently replaying the game is Red Faction‘s portrayal of the more morally-grey aspects of violent revolutions.

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There are countless horrific acts committed in periods of revolt, and whether they can be justified as necessary is subjective and dependent on context. But it’s not until recent years that we’ve really seen a mainstream acknowledgement of these acts that recognizes their necessity. Go back a decade, and even films like the 2005 adaptation of V for Vendetta trimmed out a lot of the ethical ambiguity present in the original graphic novel. These portrayals were glorified, and often if they weren’t, then they were condemned.

This makes Red Faction: Guerrilla’s depictions of these darker revolutionary elements quite significant: the game was released eight years ago now, when video games as a medium didn’t explore this concept to any great length. Red Faction by no means contains missions that are outright horrific, but a lot of what you carry out in the shoes of Alec Mason would often be considered acts of terrorism if translated into the real world.

Demolishing bridges, bombing town halls, aiding in the torture of enemy generals; these are all duties you must perform to further the cause of the Red Faction, and are all commonly-accepted acts of terror by major world powers, an aspect also reflected in anti-Red Faction news broadcasts heard throughout the game. But Red Faction: Guerrilla depicts these acts as ultimately necessary in the quest for liberation.

And quite rightly: countless times in world history, we’ve seen violent and disruptive actions carried out by revolutionary groups as a means of furthering their goals, and regardless of the public perceptions of these groups at the times of their operation, it’s generally accepted in an historical context that, often, they were ultimately successful in their intent: militant groups like Umkhonto we Sizwe, a militant anti-apartheid movement led by Nelson Mandela, who bombed South African infrastructure as a means of targeting the government, and the Cuban Revolutionaries, who engaged in guerrilla warfare to bring down the brutal regime of dictator Fulgenico Batista.

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In an age where many non-peaceful, disruptive movements are met with cries and insistences that violence should never be an option and that nothing will be achieved by employing such techniques, it’s important for people to be reminded that sometimes, even as a last resort, acts of violence have brought about massive social change. And a great way to remind us all of that is through such portrayals in the media we consume.

Red Faction: Guerrilla presenting this perspective at the time that it did was a surprisingly bold move for such an otherwise average game. And it’s part of why I have such a fond appreciation for it: that and its soviet propaganda-inspired UI design and the fact that I can destroy an entire tower block with nothing but a bloody hammer.

Violence can be devastating, and I’m not voicing apologism for all brutally violent organisations, nor am I condoning or encouraging crimes like murder. I do feel, however, that it’s important to recognise that in certain contexts, and in specific situations, many acts of violence have formed the basis of a lot of society’s progressions, and will go on to do so, and it’s important to know that sometimes, it might be the only effective option.

[DISCLAIMER: ANY NONSENSICAL CONNECTIONS MADE BETWEEN VIDEO GAMES AND COMMUNIST THEMES, ZEALOUS AND SELF-RIGHTEOUS DICTATOR-ESQUE BEHAVIORS, AND PERCEIVED SUPPORT AND/OR APOLOGISM OF OPPRESSIVE REGIMES LIKE THE SOVIET UNION ARE PURELY INSTANCES OF SELF-SATIRE AS A MEANS OF COMICAL INTROSPECTION, AND IN SOME CASES HAVE NO BASIS IN TRUTH OR PERSONAL BELIEF.]