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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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!

State Mandated Indie Roundup – 05/12/2016 – Futuristic Cowboy Egyptians

Hello comrades! Another week, another selection of approved upcoming indie releases! Once again, with an equal distribution of importance due to it’s lack of ranking. I don’t care if we live in a capitalist society and that I have to adhere to it in order to survive in this career, I’ll take every chance I can get to rub my filthy communist hands all over whatever I produce.

  • 06/12/2016 – Void Pyramid

Void Pyramid is a post-apocalyptic RPG set in a futuristic Egyptian empire, full of beast bashing, criminal crashing, and mutant mashing. From the trailer, the game reminds me of that retro-inspired, turn-based flavour of RPG that we can see in titles like Undertale and Princess Remedy in a World of Hurt, minus the bullet hell elements. There are different classes to choose from, puzzles to solve, and it’s all wrapped up in a fascinating-looking universe. It’s free to download now, but is coming to Steam via Greenlight.

  • 06/12/2016 – Drop Alive

Drop Alive is a 2D platformer with a beautiful and adorable hand-drawn art style that puts you in control of an adorable droplet of water who wishes to escape a house that she’s trapped in to get outside and join a nearby river. You navigate titanic kitchen cutlery and change your state of matter in order to navigate various obstacles, all to an original soundtrack that sounds sweet and floaty.

  • 07/12/2016 – Her Majesty’s SPIFFING

Now, I’m not a fan of colonialism. But regardless of that, Her Majesty’s SPIFFING: The Empire Staggers Back looks to be a wonderfully funny point-and-click adventure game infused with British humour. You are a boy, girl, or unspecified, tasked by the Queen under the S.P.I.F.F.I.N.G. (Special Planetary Investigative Force For Inhabiting New Galaxies) operation to colonize the stars in order to escape the dire political conditions on Earth. It looks to be incredibly charming, so I’m quite optimistic for this one.

  • 07/12/2016 – Best Buds vs Bad Guys

Best Buds vs Bad Guys is a 2D run ‘n’ gun action game in a 16-bit style. The game is clearly inspired by the likes of Contra, and is made by a dad and his 11 year old son, who are both fans of classic pixel art games. You can shoot ridiculous guns, kill nasty monsters created by Doctor Jushaan, and exercise teamwork between the ‘best buds,’ avatars resembling the developers. It looks super cute and mindlessly fun.

  • 09/12/2016 – Exoplanet: First Contact

Exoplanet: First Contact seems to be quite an ambitious project that puts you in the shoes of an explorer named Jack Sharp, on a planet called K’Tharsis, a futuristic wild west landscape populated by colonists and aboriginal people, both oppressed by the corporation Terraform. It’s An Action Survival RPG, and it reminds me a lot of Bethesda’s Fallout games with how it looks both aesthetically and mechanically. It looks to be quite story driven, and I’m really rather intrigued.

Plenty of adorable and impressive games out this week! Here’s hoping that they’re as good as they look.

How the Pokémon Franchise Advocates a Communist Utopia

The Pokémon franchise has touched the hearts of countless children and young adults throughout the world. It’s moreish mechanics, adorable design, and endearing sense of community has cemented it as one of the most popular handheld video game series to date, going on 25 years strong. But what if there’s a message within these games? Subtle nods and established norms existent within the game’s universe that speak for something more than just the battling of strange animals against more strange animals? What if Pokémon is an advocate of the inevitable Communist utopia?

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A significant aspect of a Communist society is the absence of currency, instead opting for a system wherein individuals are equally distributed that which they need to survive. While there is money in the Pokémon franchise, this free distribution of basic necessities can be seen in various instances in the Pokéverse. The first is the fact that both your player character and every other character in Pokémon seemingly never go hungry. Yes, you can buy Pokéballs, potions, and repellents, but the game never gives you the option of purchasing food for your own use. And yet, you never suffer from undernourishment or dehydration. Is this perhaps because you are supplied food and water as a basic necessity without the need to exchange funds? I suspect this might be the case.

We can also look to the Pokémon Centers; buildings situated throughout the Pokéverse regions that offer the healing of a trainer’s Pokémon free of charge. This free universal Pokémon healthcare is yet another basic need supplied without the exchange of currency. Just imagine having to pay to heal your Pokémon every time they had fainted. Would the game still be as popular as it is today? Most likely, but it’s an example of one of the many casual mechanics that makes the game such an entertaining experience, and happens to support this theory.

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In Pokémon Ruby, you encounter a man who owns a berry farm. When engaging in dialogue, the berry farmer will tell you about his berries and to, “take as many as you like.” The berry farmer could have easily charged you for the picking of his berries, but he does not. He allows you to freely take as many as you could need, and in essence, freely distributes the berries among the populace (it is assumed.) I would suggest that berries could be considered basic needs in that they are a food source, and that the berry farmer freely offering his berries is an example of the distribution of necessities that is present in a Communist society.

Another aspect of Communism is common ownership of the means of production. That is, the fruits of one’s labors are distributed equally among the populace. There is an item in the Pokéverse that carries out such a distribution; the Exp. Share, an obtainable item that shares the experience gained from successful Pokémon battles among both the participating Pokémon and Pokémon that did not engage in combat. If operating under a capitalist mindset, this experience would be given exclusively to the battling Pokémon, leaving the other, less-opportunistic Pokémon deprived of that which they need to grow. Alas, the Exp. Share solves this problem by spreading the experience out, allowing all of your Pokémon to flourish.

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And finally, as we all know, food and water are not the only basic necessities needed in order to live a happy and comfortable life. The third? Accommodation! And in the Pokémon games that take place in the Hoenn and Sinnoh regions, the player character is given the opportunity to establish a ‘secret base,’ a home, complete with optional furniture customization, that requires no initial payment and no lodging transactions. A place to live, free of charge. When we look to the idea of common ownership, it is primarily with the means of production. Private property, such as living space and personal effects, are perfectly fine and often supplied without the need for currency, exactly like the ‘secret base.’

So, there you have it. Is Pokémon an advocacy project for a true Communist Utopia? I like to think that it is, based on the implementation of various equal distribution and common ownership ideals in both it’s mechanics and it’s universe. And it gives me hope, due to it’s flagrant popularity, that one day the people of the world will happily and willingly enter into the glorious age of the Proletariat.

 

Top 5 Depictions of Communism in Video Games

Hello, comrades! Not only am I a games journalist, I’m also an Anarcho-Communist. It’s massively different to the USSR’s Leninist-Communism, but, I like to live as a parody of myself. So, here are my top five depictions of FULL COMMUNISM in video games, with provided accompanying listening material, in no particular order so to equally-distribute the credit that they’re each due.

 

  • METRO 2033

In Metro 2033, you assume the role of Artyom, a twenty-year-old survivor born before the bombs fell in a nuclear war that occurred in 2013, living in the underground Metro network of Russia. Your way of life is being threatened by a mysterious phenomenon referred to only as the Dark Ones, and you must travel through the Metro in order to seek help from the rest of society.

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In your travels, you encounter the ‘Red Line,’ a large group of Stalinist-Communists occupying sections of the Metro of the same name. There are problems with the practical application of their ideologies, and in many ways they mirror the conditions of Stalinist Russia back in the day. But the mobility of their movement, adding fuel to the revolutionary fires of nearby Metro stations and smashing down the Fourth Reich (a faction of Nazis present in the underground) whenever they possibly can, are aspects to be admired.

 

  • DEMOCRACY 3

Democracy 3 is the latest in a series of government simulation games that puts you in charge of a nation. You decide policies, trying to keep your people happy and maintain healthy relationships with each demographic present in the country, and can shape the political landscape into any ideology that you could possibly imagine.

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One such ideology is the Socialist Paradise, in which nobody is poor or left behind, and the true socialist utopia that Karl Marx pined over is finally achieved. This might not be considered FULL COMMUNISM, but it seems mostly as such, just not in name, though the image for the achievement is a hammer and sickle, so it’s basically Communism. Democracy 3 finds itself on this list because it’s accurate simulation of the world of politics has led to it’s implementation in schools throughout the world. This credibility as a reflection of the real world aids in reinforcing the feasibility of a Socialist nation, as is possible in the game.

 

  • THE TOMORROW CHILDREN

The Tomorrow Children is an adventure game akin to Minecraft in it’s collaborative building. You are a citizen of a Soviet Union-themed nation that finds itself trapped in a dismal mass known as the Void. You, along with your fellow citizens, work for the good of the people to reach out and find resources that are used to rebuild society. The game is in very early development, but has a lot of promise.

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It’s undeniably a depiction of FULL COMMUNISM, from the iconography of the game title to the flagrant Soviet themes plastering the aesthetic of the game. It encourages togetherness and working together. And sure, it might not be too great so far, but it looks likely to blossom into something beautiful. Just like the world’s implementations of Communism in history up unto this point.

 

  • MARIO KART

Mario Kart is a spin-off series in the Mario Bros. franchise from Nintendo, pitting popular characters from the universe against each other in fast-paced go-kart racing. Players can choose their character and vehicle, and race one another on a selection of themed tracks, utilizing various special items in order to aid their progress and win the race.

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What about Mario Kart is a great depiction of FULL COMMUNISM, do you ask? Well, first we must look at Mario himself; Mario is a plumber, a profession commonly attributed with the working class. Mario wears mostly red, sporting overalls and a full, healthy, Stalin-like mustache. Comparisons can easily be drawn between his aesthetic and various Communist themes, and he is the main character of the franchise, revered as a hero by many. We can also look to the mechanics present in Mario Kart itself; look at Bullet Bill, for instance, an item that is only available to those in the last places in races, and gives them a boost in order to provide them an equal opportunity of success. If that isn’t Communist, I don’t know what is.

 

  • COMMAND AND CONQUER: RED ALERT 3

Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 takes place in an alternate history from World War II in which the Allied Forces battle the Soviet Union. Facing defeat, the Soviets travel back in time to kill Albert Einstein, preventing his aid of the Allied Forces and securing Soviet domination. An unexpected by-product is the emergence of the Empire of the Rising Sun, and all three factions engage in mass conflict.

Why is this depiction of Communism so glorious? Well, aside from deadly Soviet secretaries in tight-fitting PVC uniforms wielding massive guns, the glorious leader of the USSR is depicted by the great Tim Curry. His performance is sublime, and his representation of FULL COMMUNISM secures Red Alert 3 on this list. We will meet with you in Communist space utopia soon, Mr Curry.

A Rather Lovely Chat with Mode 7 & SMAC Games

At EGX Rezzed 2016, I sat down and had a rather lovely chat with Mode 7 and SMAC Games about Frozen Synapse 2, as well as the new publishing relationship that Mode 7 had with SMAC Games’ upcoming Tokyo 42.

Check it out here!