Friday, March 21, 2008
Dreaming Cool Games
Last night I dreamed up an interesting idea for a videogame. I mean literally -- I had a very detailed dream about it, and woke up with a full recollection of the details. Sometimes my subconscious is juggling so much random stuff that it reassembles into something memorable. I call these "pizza nights." In any case, it can make for surprisingly fully-formed ideas.
So here's the game: It's designed for two teams of two players each...so it's a duo facing off against another duo. The object of the game is to fight a military/political conflict against the other side, while managing the global reaction to the conflict in "the court of public opinion." Each team has a "general" and a "propagandist" -- the general is concerned with waging the combat and trying to establish military victory, while their partner the propagandist is basically a roving movie camera who tries to capture footage of the action that paints their side in the most positive/heroic light (while trying to capture enemy atrocities and paint the opposing team as devils/jackals/terrorists.) You need success on both fronts to win the game; the idea is that in the modern age, decisive military action is meaningless without a well-handled propaganda effort.
Here's the cool part: the general can improve the chances of victory by playing "rough," i.e. deploying ghastly weapons, inflicting civilian losses, and even resorting to atrocities. But the enemy's propagandist is always trying to catch these images on camera to broadcast to a horrified global TV audience. The dynamic of the game is built on this interplay -- balancing the spectrum of available military tactics with the resulting media fallout.
This would be a game that rewards "destructive" and "constructive" approaches to gameplay -- on the very same team, in fact. The general can happily concentrate on obliterating whole neighborhoods if he wants, while the propagandist can merrily play a "muckraker out to expose the horrors of war" game at the very same time. At long last, a game that warmongers and pacifists can get on board with.
I still can't think of a name for it, though. Maybe that will come to me in my next dream.