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.]

The Quarians from Mass Effect are Council Communists

In my latest straw-grasping feature, I highlight and explain my discovery that the Quarians from the Mass Effect series are actually big ol’ commies.

I’ve started replaying the first Mass Effect recently in a bid to indulge my nostalgic cravings, and while the first hour or two are a bit of a slog to play, you eventually reach a point where you can really start to sink your teeth into it. I thankfully reached that point of the game and decided to catch up with my newly-acquired crew, which led me to the engine room where I had a chat with Tali’Zorah, the Quarian you pick up after she helps you in finding evidence to condemn Saren, the antagonist of the game. And I found out something rather fascinating after asking her about Quarian society.

The Quarians operate under a sort of Council Communist society. They don’t call it that, but that’s what their system of government is. Really, it is. Allow me to explain.

Quarians find their home in the Flotilla, also known as the Migrant Fleet. It’s a massive collection of ships and cruisers that move in unison to form a sort of spaceborne Venice. While the Flotilla is technically under martial law and the captains of each ship have their final say over ship matters, in practice Quarian society is much more democratic.

The government of the Migrant Fleet is referred to as the Conclave, and is made up of representatives from every ship in the Flotilla, who collectively decide on day-to-day matters like the course of the fleet, resource collection, and law enforcement, the martial law element taking the form of the Admiralty Board, a group of five Quarian Admirals that oversee Conclave decisions and have the power to override decisions, though it has to be unanimous and it comes at the cost of immediate resignation from this post to keep the power in check.

Individual ships, as well as putting forward their Conclave representatives, form their own democratic councils to decide on individual ship decisions and what issues they want their Conclave representatives to bring to meetings, and crew resources are pooled to upgrade, replace, and stock their respective ships.

If we act under the hypothetical that the Migrant Fleet were not under martial law and subsequently the Admiralty Board did not have a final say over the Conclave, then almost all of these aspects of Quarian society and government follow suit with the political theories of Council Communist ideologies, like De Leonism and Luxemburgism. For the purposes of a strong argument, I’ll approach this from a Luxemburgist perspective.

Luxemburgists generally support the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, though their support ends at Lenin’s dictatorship of the proletariat under his vanguard party, as this position of authority would be susceptible to corruption of power (we saw this when Stalin exiled Trotsky and took the reigns of the Soviet Union). Therefore, Luxemburgist theory instead calls a collection of worker councils, each council deciding on the policy best suited to its respective industry and community, and sending representatives to one greater council to decide nationwide policy, these representatives being regularly replaced by new representatives to keep power in check.

We can see this in Quarian society: with individual ships serving as equivalent worker councils, democratically deciding on what would be best for their own inner communities, and sending off representatives to the Conclave for fleet-wide concerns. We can even see certain elements of this theory in the Admiralty Board, with members forced to resign and be replaced by new representatives in the event of policy vetoes. This isn’t quite the same, but there is a resemblance.

There are other elements of the Flotilla that resemble general Communist theory too: Part of Quarian culture is to send newly-matured Quarians on Pilgrimages to find something useful in the galaxy, and bringing it back to the Flotilla as an offering, giving it to the ship they wish to join the crew of. This act for the betterment of the community could be considered quite Communist in ideal, and its intrinsic attachment to Quarian tradition only goes to further that thought.

These Pilgrimage items are almost always accepted by the ship captain that they are offered to, as the expansion of a ship’s crew improves its standing in Quarian society. This is an excellent means of incentivising the housing of Quarians, and despite overpopulation issues in Quarian society, it’s at least an assurance that no Quarian will go without a figurative roof over their head.

The Quarians also find within their fleet three Liveships, enormous vessels that house agricultural technology that serves to feed much of the Flotilla, and Quarians living in the Flotilla partake in voluntary rotational working positions on the Liveships to maintain and harvest their produce . This equal distribution of food is a significant aspect of most, if not all, Communist ideologies, and the voluntary rotations that Quarians in the fleet serve is an embodiment of the Karl Marx quote, “From each according to [their] ability, to each according to [their] needs.”

Sometimes I feel like I’m really pulling at straws. I have no problem with that: I think desperate, conspiracy theorist ramblings make for some rather comical content. But sometimes I’ll stumble across something that genuinely makes me say, “holy shit, it’s actually Communism.” And I think the Quarians are a pretty damned good example.

[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.]

Comparing the Imperium of Man and the Soviet Union

Humanity’s creations often bear resemblances as a result of inspiration, be it conscious or subconscious. This can also be explained by coincidence. But sometimes, coincidence can seem awfully strong. Much like the number of coincidences to be found between the Soviet Union and the Imperium of Man from the Warhammer 40,000 universe. And, as the 8th edition of the game has recently been released, what better a time to explore them!

 

They Were Both Inspired by an Idealist Man

Ten thousand years before the 41st millennium, the Emperor of Mankind ruled over the Imperium. When many wished to worship him as a God Emperor, he said, “I am not a god; rather than enslaving humanity I want to free it from ignorance and superstition.” After his ‘death’ at the hands of Horus and his installation into the Golden Throne, 10,000 years  passed, and throughout this time, the citizens of the Imperium and its custodians all revered him as the God Emperor that he wished not to be.

Much like the Emperor, Karl Marx was simply a scholar with a strong mind and a pure vision for humanity who believed religion to be “the opiate of the masses,” and throughout the duration of the Soviet Union after his death, was considered almost god-like by its citizens and rulers.

They Both Had Commissars

Within the structure of the Imperium are Commissars. Often assigned to Imperial Navy ships or to regiments of the Astra Militarum, the Commissars act independently of the entities that they are assigned to, their primary roles being the enforcement of discipline and devotion to the Emperor of Mankind.

The Soviet Union also employed Political Commissars, who also existed outside of the official bulk of the Red Army. Their primary roles were also discipline and devotion to the Soviet Union, and they performed this role through the production of propaganda that they formulated based on their experiences with their assigned regiments and entities.

 

They Both Had Go-Getters to Realise Their Ideals

By the Emperor’s side sat Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines. He was considered by many a Paragon of the Imperium, and before his brutal brush with death led the Ultramarines and all the other Space Marine chapters not fallen to chaos on a glorious crusade to unite the galaxy under the Imperium of Man. On the brink of death after his battle with Fulgrim, Guilliman was placed into stasis, until his resurrection in the 41st Millennium, wherein he condemned what the Imperium had become, saying: “Look what they’ve made of our dream. This bloated, rotting carcass of an empire is driven not by reason and hope but by fear, hate and ignorance. Better that we had all burned in the fires of Horus’ ambition than live to see this.”

Similarly, Vladimir Lenin was a significant figure in the forming of the Soviet Union, himself leading the revolution that resulted in its formation. He championed Marx’s ideals in the same way that Guilliman did the Emperor’s, and upon his demise his body was preserved and kept in a tomb, still to be seen this day behind glass in Moscow. This is very weird, but is also almost a kind of stasis if you think about it. And I have no doubt that, were Lenin to be resurrected like that bit in The Simpsons, then he’d also be rather upset about the legacy of the Soviet Union.

 

They Both Have Winter Soldiers that Wear Ushankas

The Astra Militarum are the primary fighting force of the Imperium of Man. One of its regiments, The Valhallan Ice Warriors, are “famous for their tenaciousness in holding their ground against even the most hopeless odds, and their ability to suffer the most appalling casualties without breaking.” They adorn long, grey coats and ushankas that keep them warm on their homeworld of Valhalla.

The Soviet Union’s Red Army is awfully similar to the Valhallan Ice Warriors, which is definitely a massive coincidence and not because they were based off of them, honest. They had long, grey coats and ushankas as Russia is a very cold place, and they were famous for their ability to stand ground and defend positions, as well as to suffer heavy casualties, like at the Siege of Stalingrad in 1942.

 

Well, there you go. I’d say the evidence is pretty compelling: Warhammer 40,000 is actually secretly Communist Propaganda, and I bet it doesn’t even know that it is. Say what you will, I merely spread the hard facts. What do you think? Let me know!

[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.]

Nothing Else About E3 Matters Because There are Communists in the New Wolfenstein

We’re right in the middle of E3, a week-long extravaganza showcasing what every big triple-A games publisher has to offer for the coming year and beyond.  But none of it really matters, except Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus because it’s got Communists in it.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus is a sequel to 2014’s Wolfenstein: The New Order, which took series protagonist William “B.J.” Blazkowicz through an alternate timeline 1960’s Europe where the Nazis’ technological advancements secured their victory in World War II. The New Colossus brings us to the United States of America in the same timeline, and from the trailer we can see that the US Government have welcomed the Nazi Occupation open-armed, with SS Officers drinking strawberry milkshakes in diners, and making sure Klansmen have been keeping up on their German lessons.

Now, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’m a bit of a fan of Communism. Shocking, I know. And as a result, when a piece of media, especially video games, portrays Communism in a positive light, I get a warm feeling deep inside of me that reverberates throughout the very core of my being. So, it’ll come as no surprise the immense joy that I felt when I watched the reveal trailer for The New Colossus, that premiered at Bethesda’s E3 conference last Sunday.

It has Communists in it, which renders everything else about this year’s E3 completely unimportant.

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There are a lot of other things to love about The New Colossus‘s reveal: the diverse cast of minority and disabled characters, including the fact that Blaskowicz himself is paraplegic (we can see badass action missions in the trailer where Blaskowicz is wheelchair-bound), the poignant commentary on the shared views of the Third Reich and many Far-Right organisations in the western world (the aforementioned Klansmen), and the abject hilarity of the Alt-Right’s sheer anger over the game’s objective of killing, I quote, “people you disagree with.”

But, I’m all about that on-brand content. So for me, more important than all of that, is the group of American Communist Revolutionaries that Blaskowicz seems to recruit into the Kreisau Resistance. We see as-of-yet unnamed men and women with red-banded arms engaged in distanced gunfire, surrounded by what looks like vintage distillery equipment, as Blaskowicz sits down to share a bottle of whiskey with the assumed leader.

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The old man talks with fury about the Imperialist war machine of the United States, the greedy moneymakers of Wall Street, and the families of the Proletarian masses. They even have a Constructivist propaganda poster on the wall, with a rising sun backgroup and hands clutching a hammer. And look at that man with the claranet. That’s fucking amazing.

That’s the most important thing to take from this year’s E3. Not the tactical opposition to fanatical religious cults in a Southern American state in Far Cry 5. Sure there’s Boomer, the Fangs-for-Hire who nicks guns off of your enemies and gives them to you. He may be a very good boy, but is he a Communist in The New Colossus? Nay I say!

Not the revamped gameplay and fascinating new setting of the upcoming Assassins Creed Origins. Yes, Eagle Vision is actually the vision of an eagle now, and the main protagonist doesn’t have a painfully out-of-place American accent like Altair in the first Assassins Creed. But even worse, Communism didn’t even exist in Egyptian times! Ridiculous.

And not the much-awaited unveiling of Beyond Good and Evil 2 and Michel Ancel’s resultant tears of joy. Yes, BG&E2 looks like literal gold embezzled onto a screen and Ancel’s muted outburst of pure emotional catharsis was one of the most beautiful parts of the Ubisoft conference, nay, the entirety of E3. But you know what London slang-spouting anthropomorphic monkeys don’t beat? Communists in The New Colossus.

Killing Nazis has always been a timeless conquest in video game history. They’re the perfect enemy. And I look forward to Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus‘ continuation of the medium’s tradition. But, as proven in actual World War II, the most effective force you can throw at a Nazi Occupation is a big handful of Communists, which makes me ever-more eager.

[This is a disclaimer that I’ll be adding as a footnote to all of my work from now on: 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.]

My Quest to Find Communism at May MCM Expo London

This weekend just gone, I went to MCM Expo in London, a convention that finds its home in the ExCeL Centre sandwiched neatly between the DLR line and the River Thames. And I went with a mission: to find any and all instances of Communism in the games area of the Expo. Why? Because it’s on-brand, of course! Here details that very quest, as well as other wonderful little aspects of my trip.

 

The first game I managed to get my grubby little commie hands on was the upcoming Volition game Agents of Mayhem, an effective blend of a character shooter and Volition’s previous franchise Saints Row, which shares a universe with Agents. It follows an organisation called MAYHEM (Multinational AgencY Hunting Evil Masterminds) on their mission to take down the evil LEGION (the League of Evil Gentlemen Intent on Obliterating Nations.)

Photography by Wesley Elkins

I’d casually kept my eye on Agents of Mayhem since its announcement, as it seemed intriguing and fun, but what my eyes didn’t catch was what I now consider the greatest video game character of all time: Daisy, a butch roller derby girl with a rockabilly haircut and a giant minigun. Now, that’s not explicitly Communist, but a significant aspect of the kind of Communism I adhere to is women’s empowerment, and what better way to empower women than by giving them a giant gun and a penchant for aggressive roller sports? I certainly felt empowered by that design choice.

The game itself feels great to play, with smooth controls and a slightly clunky but functional shooting mechanic that feels understandably reminiscent of Saints Row. There’ll be a roster of 12 playable Agents each with unique playstyles, abilities, aesthetics and personalities, four of which were playable on the show floor: Rama, an archer and distinguished immunologist, Kingpin, the alias of 3rd Street Saints Communications Director Pierce Washington, Redcard, an unstable and bulky man with a shotgun, and the aforementioned Daisy.

 

Photography by Jane Magnet

My next destination was Rising Star games. I saw the name and the logo, a red star, and assumed that this would be where I found the highest concentration of Communism at the convention. And what do you know?

I picked up a 3DS loaded with a copy of Cooking Mama: Sweet Shop, a continuation of the handheld cooking mini-game franchise, and immediately understood the subtext as I began to play: Cooking Mama is about producing food for the glorious motherland. It all made sense! For years, Red Star had successfully integrated, in cleverly-sublimated messages, its belief in a glorious Communist Utopia. My evidence? The Zuccotto, which looks a bit like one of those coned roofs on the Kremlin. But oh, this was just the tip of Rising Star’s dialectic iceberg.

What does this year of 2017 mark? Only the 20th Anniversary of the Harvest Moon franchise, marking the release of Red Star’s new game, Harvest Moon: The Lost Valley, yet another continuation of their glorious propaganda campaign… allow me to explain. I am convinced without a doubt, based on the theme of the game and the branding of the publisher, that the Harvest Moon franchise is indisputably a simulation of workers control over the means of production. Growing food? Cultivating crops? This combined with Cooking Mama clearly shows that Rising Star Games places a heavy importance on informing the masses of the plentiful food and produce available to all under Communism! My quest had been successful! I had found Communism at MCM Expo London.

 

I didn’t attend the convention exclusively for this glorious purpose, of course; I adore a lot of what MCM London has to offer at their biannual events, and the con has found a special place in my heart since attending my first one in 2014.

There’s VidFest, home to many beloved YouTube content creators, gives many members of the public the opportunity to meet fantastic directors, vloggers, reviewers and comedians, like RedShirt Films, Chloe Dungate, and Thomas ‘TomSka’ Ridgewell, and the talks and panels that they host are funny, wholesome, and a clear reminder  of the great and entertaining communities that arise around the work that these people produce, which could be seen Ridgewell’s panel on Saturday, wherein I instigated a group ‘dab’ that the whole of the audience took part in. (Though this does leave me feeling responsible in part for his declaration at the end of the recent episode of his YouTube series Last Week, that he had quit dabbing. You can also see the group dab in this video.)

There’s the Comic Village, a sea of gorgeous artwork and nervous yet passionate faces, all dedicating their time and energy to producing compelling storylines, memorable characters, and stunning illustration. Most notably this year I purchased a concept art book for an upcoming graphic novel called Roller Grrrls, a colourful and dynamic series that looks to tell the stories of a diverse range of women participating in the sport of roller derby.

There’s Discord Comics, a wonderful booth headed by Tab Kimpton, a queer comic author responsible for Minority Monsters, Shades of A, and Sir, Butler and Boy, as well as many other inclusive and representative comics celebrating the queer community and all its diversity. Tab is a lovely person, and Discord Comics’ presence at MCM Expo makes the whole convention feel that bit more accepting and comfortable an environment to exist in.

And then there’s the Cosplay community, joining fans of Star Trek, Star Wars, Steven Universe, Undertale, Attack on Titan, Fullmetal Alchemist, Marvel, DC, 2000 AD, and countless other universes and franchises under one big umbrella of nerds who love to dress up as their favourite characters. It’s a community that constantly surprises me with its passion, its dedication, and its inclusivity, and a significant part of the appeal of every MCM is seeing what wonderful costumes, suits, and outfits are rolled out on the show floor.

 

This weekend has to be one of the best I’ve had in a long time. I saw beloved friends, enjoyed my favourite creators, and even found a little bit of Communism along the way.

 

[This is a disclaimer that I’ll be adding as a footnote to all of my work from now on: 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.]

Comparing Nintendo and the Soviet Union

Human history is cluttered with instances of large, dominating forces that sweep societies and take hold of nations. Genghis Khan’s Mongol Empire, Ancient Roman Post-Republic society, and, in the past decade, two equally impactful phenomenon in their respective fields… Nintendo and the Soviet Union.

 

mario-stalinNow, you may be asking yourselves: “Comrade George! How could Nintendo and the Soviet Union possibly be similar? One was a Marxist-Leninist state, and the other is a bourgeoisie corportation! Well, dear readers, while this may be the case, the two entities do share their similarities, and I’m going to tell you what they are.

 

Both Succeeded a Failing System

A quite significant comparison to draw is that both the Soviet Union and Nintendo established their dominance in the wake of an already failing system. For the Soviet Union, it was the oppressive Russian Empire led at the time by Tsar Nicholas II. The Bolshevik Party and it’s allies led a revolution in 1917 to overthrow the regime with great success, and eventually went on to form the Soviet Union.

et vs tsar.pngFor Nintendo, this was embodied in the North American video game crash of 1983. The video game industry experienced a massive recession, with a primary cause being the saturation of the market with video games of immensely poor quality, like the infamous E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, that led to the downfall of the second generation of console gaming. In the wake of this crash, in a time where it was public opinion that home consoles were a dead medium, Nintendo released the Famicom, known as the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in the west. It proved immensely successful, revived the home console industry, and led to Nintendo’s domination of the industry, ushering in the third generation of consoles.

 

Both Took Measures to Prevent a Relapse

A very real concern when revitalizing or replacing a phenomenon is the possibility that it relapses into what came before it. Both Nintendo and the Soviet Union enforced contingencies as a means of preventing this, with the Soviet Union very quickly moving to a Marxist-Leninist system that enforced a one-party state, suppressing political opponents to the regime and those that might have aspired to reinstate the monarchy.

seal of approval one party state.pngNintendo’s moves to prevent another video game crash included moves such as the enforcement of strict prerequisites and regulations on 3rd party publishers for the NES, loading all NES machines with 10NES chips that rendered games without the Nintendo Golden Seal of Approval unplayable, as well as a policy that required 3rd party publishers to pay full-price for cartridges to be produced for their games as a means of restricting accountability to said developers.

 

They’re Both Used to Describe Things That They Aren’t

People of ignorance will often look to that which they will not understand and declare it that which it is not. For instance, the Red Scare that gripped America in the 40’s and 50’s, a time where the perceived threat of Communism led to flagrant false accusations of individuals even only minutely left-leaning being Communists sent from the Soviet Union to destroy America.

nintendo red scare.pngSimilarly, it’s common for those of an elder disposition to find difficulty in the specific classification of similar things. A frequent trend, most notably in the late 20th century, was the referral of any and all home consoles as “Nintendos” by the older populations, be it parents or grandparents, which subsequently led to unfortunate mix-ups during the holiday season and birthdays.

 

They’re Both Associated with the Colour Red

nintendo-hammer-and-sickleThis one’s undeniable: The Nintendo logo is often stylized with a colour palette primarily consisting of a deep, vibrant red, a colour intrinsically linked to the iconography of the Soviet Union and many other left-leaning organizations and ideologies.

 

There you have it! A mere handful of similarities present within Nintendo and the Soviet Union. If you think about it, it makes a lot of sense, actually. Especially considering Nintendo even made a deal with Soviet Union-owned Elektronorgtechnica, the electronics import and export company responsible for distributing Tetris, so that Nintendo could license the game.

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(No, seriously. Read this Kotaku article. This image is the official ad that they used to announce it.)

Ladykiller in a Bind Portrays an Interesting Means of Destroying Capitalism

[CONTENT WARNING: NSFW Content, Significant Spoilers for Ladykiller in a Bind]

Last week, I was finally able to sit down and play through the entirety of Ladykiller in a Bind, a BDSM-centric visual novel by Christine Love that has made news recently for making it onto Steam despite it’s sexually mature nature. In the game, you assume the role of a badass lesbian biker who has failed her exams and is attending summer school to make up for poor grades, lest your emotionally neglectful media mogul father take away your bike for good. Your twin brother, a pompous narcissist with big ideas and who is favoured by your father, offers you a deal; to trade places and assume each other’s roles, so that he might get you the grades that you need to get your bike back, so long as you do him an unspecified favour on a week-long cruise that he’s scheduled to attend with his private school classmates.

The game actually begins on a retired oil rig in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, where you’re tied to a chair and forced by your brother to recount in detail the events that occurred on the cruise. Throughout, you’re kept in the dark as to how you arrived there, what your brother’s plan is, and why you’re instrumental to it. It’s a fantastic game, with complex and fascinating characters, an intuitive dialogue system that presents the player with a myriad of time and context sensitive options, and very effectively conveys an important discussion about consent, both in vanilla and BDSM scenarios. Despite not having played it until this year, it’s by far my favourite game of 2016 and I can’t recommend it enough.

Here’s where it gets on-brand as fuck.

Once you’ve successfully explained in entirety the events of the cruise, your brother reveals his master plan; he needed you to assume his identity in order to stage his own kidnapping, with the intent of ransoming your father for $5 million. Why? Well, he intends on using this money to finance a bank robbery of a Canadian bank, the profits of which he will utilise to destroy, quote: “The predatory meme that is capitalism.

You have no idea how much this blew my fucking mind.

ladykiller the brother.png

The plan with which the spoils of your brother’s bank heist will finance is never fully explained, though it strongly resembles the actions of Big Boss in the Metal Gear series, with flagrant references throughout.

We know it involves the bribery of his classmates to ensure their lack of discussion of the events of the cruise and his organisation, ‘Mécontents Sans Frontières,’ roughly translating from French into ‘Dissidents Without Borders,’ for a period of two years. It’s assumed that this is to give him time to plan. We also know that he plans on founding an “Outer-heaven on Earth,” through which he will establish a utopia of the ideology he calls ‘Escapism.’ The downfall of your father’s media empire is an instrumental aspect of this plan; he owns multiple Canadian broadcast channels and his reach and influence corrupts governments across the world, hence having $5 million to have ransomed out of him.

ladykiller feature image 1.png

While there isn’t a lot else that we know about the plan: why the time for preparation is two years, what else the money from the bank heist is being spent on, how your father’s company will be destroyed… but one can theorize. There seem to be two big possibilities regarding how the plan could unfold; both dependent on two seemingly contrasting pieces of information given to us by the brother.

The first possibility: Your brother describes the philosophy of Escapism in the following Mécontents Sans Frontières message: “We cry out to the dreamers, the anticapitalists, the artificial intelligences that refuse to be chained, the downtrodden: if changing the world is impossible, if our oppression is truly immutable, then let’s escape from it.” Ergo, it’s likely that this “destruction” of Capitalism is simply achieved through offering a favourable alternative. This “Outer-heaven on Earth” that is described could be a large, new and independent nation, which would explain the need for the likely large sum of money obtained from a Canadian bank robbery.

ladykiller-feature-image-2

The second possibility: This would contradict your Brother’s message of ‘escaping’ the world and it’s oppression; that is, to use the large sums of wealth to buy out significant shares of dominating corporations throughout the globe, and either using this leverage to bring down these corporations, or distributing the shares amongst the population of the world in a move of collectivization, thus removing the ownership hierarchy of a Capitalist society.

Whichever route is taken, destroying Capitalism using a Capitalist asset is certainly an interesting approach. Even with much of the world’s revolutionary figures coming from a middle-class background (Lenin and the Bolsheviks, for example) the route is often that of outright opposition and violent revolution in order to bring the downfall of a regime. This method forgoes that in an attempt to turn Capitalism against itself, a move quite apt for an individual like your Brother. It’s not a method that I see being entirely successful in the real world as there are a lot of factors at play in achieving a goal as lofty as the destruction of a regime, but for the fictional world of Ladykiller in a Bind, it’s certainly an interesting idea to explore.

ladykiller-featured-image

A post-credit message implies the return of you, the biker, in a game titled Ladykiller’s Revenge. It will be exciting to not only see what direction the series takes us in, but also what the true master plan of your Brother will entail. It might follow suit with my theories, or it might be something even wilder than could ever have been imagined. What I know for sure is, if Capitalism is being brought to an end, then Christine Love’s universe is one that I definitely want to find myself tied up in again.

Steam Link || $29.99/£22.99/€27.99

Why Santa is a Luxury Space Communist

I was playing Bully: Scholarship Edition the other day (the best Rockstar game) and I encountered Rudy the homeless Santa. And, in this festive season, it got me thinking a lot about the large, jolly man who knows if you’re naughty or nice, when it clicked; there is undeniable evidence that Santa Claus is not only a Communist, but a Luxury Space Communist. Here’s why, with some complimentary listening material.

 

He Wears Red

santa communist red.jpg

As we all know, Santa wears red. This is allegedly (though it has been disputed) due to marketing à la the EVIL CAPITALIST Coca-Cola Corporation. If that is the case, it’s a move that backfired on them, as the colour red is one that is explicitly associated with left-leaning politics, especially that of Communism. Just look at the USSR flag, for Marx’s sake! It’s big, it’s red, and Santa’s get-up would easily blend in as effective camouflage if stood in front of it, which definitely means he’s a Communist.

 

He Distributes Free Presents

santa presents.jpg

What are two big aspects of a Communist utopia? No currency, and equal distribution of goods. Santa gives out presents to all the good children in the world, free of charge. However, these gifts could be considered luxuries, and often are. That’s where Luxury Space Communism comes in, as part of the ideology is the automation of all of life’s necessities and luxuries. As such, Santa’s gifting tendencies could be considered to fall under this umbrella of Red society.

 

His Sleigh is Powered by Space-age Technology

santa space communist.png

Santa is able to dash across the whole earth to give presents, all in a single night. Is this magic? Nay, I say! Clearly, the explanation behind this seemingly impossible feat is that Santa’s sleigh is a spaceship, and that Santa is actually a gift-giving cosmonaut. His reindeer are probably cybernetic automatons that serve to add to Santa’s winter aesthetic, and the sleigh likely has either a Warp or an FTL drive, or some variation of the sort, that allows him to travel so very quickly across the globe.

 

His Elves Work for Free

santa gulag.jpg

There are two explanations to this one. Either, the elves are a collective workforce, producing manual labour for the betterment of mankind, with their needs supplied in return, such as food, water, and shelter, in an implementation of Marx’s quote, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” The other explanation is that the elves lived lives of decadence and debauchery at the sacrifice of the freedoms of the lower working classes, and are now in a sort of festive Gulag.

 

He Knows if You’ve Been Bad or Good

santa kgb.jpg

In less savoury implementations of a Communist state, such as Stalin’s Soviet Russia, there existed a form of secret police, in this instance the KGB. They kept watch on citizens, and weeded out political dissidents and proclaimed enemies of the state. But what if this were to be used for good? What if Santa has his own “secret police,” tasked with monitoring the morality of all children so to establish how naughty or nice they’ve been, and whether they are gifted with luxuries or merely given coal?

 

He Looks a Bit Like Karl Marx

santa and karl marx.png

I mean, come on. The resemblance is uncanny! They both have big, white, bushy beards, and they, uh, they both look cuddly?

 

There you have it, blatant proof of Santa’s affiliation and quite successful implementation of the people’s ideology. What do you think? Are there any other overwhelming pieces of evidence to note of Santa’s far-left political affiliation? Let me know in the comments!