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Having a Think

Will There One Day be Enough? Is it Already Here?

I’m doing a lot of replaying old games, rewatching old shows and films. Each moment I’m torn, looking at the new games on the shelf that I should or could be playing isntead. But, it’s not them I’m drawn to.

There’s comfort in the familiar and there’s excitement in the new. I am, as many are, a little uncertain of who I am right now, what I’m doing, as I’m stuck into a situation that I can’t escape. The comfort of returning to the familiar right now is enough. One day, could it be all I need?

The hope is, of course, no. The excitement of the new is worth it, there’s growth there, the growth of discovering new ways of thinking and new ways to explore yourself. This is the ideal at least, a theory of the benefit of newness, content from content.

These benefits exist in the well-trodden as well. It’s easy to see repetition as reification, reinforcing the already known, the practiced and the familiar. Repetition, however, after times of absence is refacing a memory. You find that as you repeat actions, your body moves in different ways to how it used it. I put on my favourite shirt and maybe it doesn’t fit the same way anymore, it’s still the same shirt, but I’m not the same me.

I’ve been replaying Hollow Knight, Oblivion, and Disco Elysium, all games I love. I’ve been ignoring finishing Spider-man or starting the now older Horizon Zero Dawn or God of War.

I’m listening to Hollow Knight in a new way. The first run’s uncertainty is replaced with a hunger for the game’s moments of security. (Spoilers below) I savoured meetings with Quirrel and played his story quicker than I ever had before and I needed the assurance that Monomon gives. I wasn’t uncertain this time about the locations, I was uncertain about whether the journey is just and good.

I’m struggling to accept that I’ve moved beyond Oblivion. The game is too mapped in my mind, the wonder in what was once hidden and new is refiring as familiarity. I’m travelling to this land again after walking through Breath of the Wild, Skyrim, and Guild Wars 2. It’s like returning to home you haven’t lived in in a very long time, and one that you feel like you’ve grown beyond.

I’m learning a new way to be in Disco Elysium. It’s a messier playthrough. I’ve played this story twice already and made the same choices both times, but this time I have a friend joining me and playing the evil angel on my shoulder. (Spoilers below, again.) We’ve gotten close to shooting a child. We’ve gone off the wagon. But there’s a new hopeful tragedy that I was too scared, unable to see before. I’m learning that things can get worse and worse before they hit the end and while I tried before to keep everything afloat, it good to know how much worse I could have let it been and still walk away.

Could I get these feelings from turning to the new? Or are these special from retreading the old?

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Having a Think

The Meg: the best international unity we’re likely to get

DISCLAIMER: I like shark films. Mostly Deep Blue Sea. I think it’s a fun film and sometimes that’s enough. People get eaten by sharks. It’s funny and scary in the way you want a non-taxing rollercoaster ride to be. So, you can imagine how excited I was to see The Meg swim into the shallows I was splashing about in. I’ve seen it twice now and I think it’s more than just everything you could want from a shark film. In fact, I think it’s an important step towards media that gives international audiences a chance to think more positively of each other.

Shark film is a weird genre. They’re essentially just disaster movies, but the disaster is the shark. They come with their own versions of disaster movie tropes and often sit closer to horror than your average meteor or super-volcano film does. You can link them to the waves of hysteria about swimmers being eaten by sharks and I’m sure if you look deep at it, you’ll see the films and the panic help each other out. But, at the same time, who cares? Just like the panic, they play well on that universal gut fear of deep water, imagining that something will come out of it to eat you in the same way we imagine monsters in the dark.

While Jaws‘ shark gimmick is one super vindictive shark and Deep Blue Sea gives you a few hyper-intelligent sharks, The Meg‘s simple draw is one big dinosaur era monstrosity (although, SPOILERS: there’s more than one). As a shark film I think it’s successful. You get lots of tense splashing, lots of looming jaws in the dark, and people gruesomely torn apart. There’s maybe too many scenes in relative security, but the characters are cool enough that I’m happy to be spending time with them all.

The narratives that the movie offers are mostly surprisingly progressive as well. The ridiculously wealthy billionaire character projects a redemption arc, but is secretly plotting to secure his finances. That plot culminated in a great moment where he’s eaten next to a whale he’s literally exploded. There’s also a short scene condemning shark fin poachers. It’s a nice detail that the shark film takes time out to project some sympathy to actual sharks. You could maybe argue there’s a fear of science narrative, one character musing that ‘we did what people always do, discover then destroy’. However, considering that the film is drenched in characters that are scientists and experts, The Meg could be much worse on this front. It’s no Godzilla: King of Monsters. That film flat out said the ecologists want to kill everyone.

It’s a great film. Simple, stupid, fun. But, that’s not all it is. There’s something big swimming in the bank statements of this film and that is that this is a big collaboration between American and Chinese production companies. From the looks of it, it paid off. The budget is estimated at $130mil and while it was projected to be a flop, it instead made the money back in America and then went on to get the budget back again in China. Worldwide, the film ended up making over $500mil.

Money-wise it’s a smart move and one that isn’t unique. Skyscraper, another disaster movie from the same year as The Meg, featuring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson dangling from a collapsing building, was a production by 3 main companies: Steve Bucks Productions, Flynn Picture Company, and Legendary Pictures. All three are American companies, but in 2016 Legendary became a subsidiary of China’s Wanda Group. Skyscraper ended up performing pretty badly in America, making back $68mil of a $125mil budget. In China, however, Skyscraper made $132mil.

Of course, the funding is opaque. We can’t see the breakdown of who gave what, but we can see how it looks on the finished product. The source material (yes, The Meg is based on a series of 6 going on 7 novels by Steve Alten) is American and a little different from the film in some telling ways, most notably is the setting. The novel takes place at the Mariana Trench, but the film is off the coast of China. This is most likely so we can get the final confrontation of the film as the meg heads towards a beautiful and busy beach, Sanya Bay.

This is likely a pitch for the nice tourist destination, it does look lovely and I imagine the prehistoric shark is a rare feature. To criticise this would maybe be fair, but it would also hold The Meg to pretty ludicrous standards above the rest of the industry. Most blockbusters at the moment are full of product placement, even Jurassic World, a film which seems to be making a statement about product placement, is full of it even at points inconsistent to its apparent argument.

While a ragtag bunch of international geniuses is a frequent feature of disaster movies, this can also point to the way the film is being marketed around the world. Jason Statham is English, but a household American name thanks to his features in the Fast and Furious franchise, Transporter films, and The Expendables. Page Kennedy and Rainn Wilson are American; Li Bingbing is Chinese; Winston Chao is Taiwanese; Jessica McNamee, Ruby Rose, and Robert Taylor are Australian; Ólafur Darri Ólafsson is Icelandic; Cliff Curtis is a New Zealander; and Masi Oka is Japanese. The cast is a marketing tool, it often is, but here we see a big international pitch paying off, The Meg performing well in every one of these territories.

I think it’s possible to stop at this point and say ‘why should I care? Good for these massive companies cracking a chance to make a tonne more money, making films with huge budgets that are less likely to bomb’. It’s also possible, especially when looking at Disney’s recent attempts, to see this step into international waters as threatening a film’s integrity. This is of course not to argue that Disney ever had any integrity to begin with. There is no ethical consumption (and likely, little ethical production) under capitalism, we’re forced to make concessions about what we consume from media to food everyday. That’s why I’m going to make the case that there’s a light in this tunnel of international film-making, and to do that I want to look at a love triangle.

The Meg has one of the most positive ex-spouse narratives I’ve ever seen. Jason Statham is drawn into the story by his ex-wife, Jessica McNamee, being stuck at the bottom of the sea. She’s running out of oxygen, the pressure is building, and an unidentified creature (it’s the meg) is outside the submersible. It’s safe at the start of the film to assume that by the end they’ll have made up and got back together. They’ll maybe shout at each other a few times in the process, then at the heat of the danger they’ll kiss and we’ll forget there was ever any issue. Astoundingly, however, this does not happen. They’re not even catty towards each other. Instead, Statham has some pretty sweet chemistry with Li Bingbing’s character and gets on like a house on fire with her daughter. Later on in the film, Statham and McNamee even have a heart to heart where she’s happy to see him move on with Bingbing. This is what the fuck levels of emotional maturity that I don’t think I’ve seen in a film, like ever. And it’s in a shark film.

I think Bingbing x Statham is a symbolic romance. At a time when public hysteria about China in the West is at a high, where companies are being banned and students are accused of being spies, xenophobia has been seen to be rising and people are being caught in the middle of government level dealings. Not to get all Crusader Kings III, but historically a romance has been a union for the nation. These unions haven’t always worked well, Marie Antoinette married Louis XVI at a time when anti-Austrian xenophobia was at a boiling point in France and that famously didn’t work out. But, the power of culture is often underestimated. If the trend of international film-making continues then we will hopefully see more of these positive relationships that can serve as subtle shifts towards unity.

The Meg isn’t going to solve international tensions, but I think it does a pretty good job for a film about a big shark.

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Scratching the Itch

Airwaves

Morse code is hard and in Michael Luo’s Airwaves you’ll decipher a lot of it. You’ll need a pen, paper, and lots of concentration, but the reward is an intriguing interactive novella and an immense amount of satisfaction.

You play as three generations of radio operators, deciphering morse code messages and typing them into your typewriter. Each input unlocks the next part of a family’s sorry story, appearing on the page of your typewriter told against a backdrop of modern Chinese history and surreal hallucinations.

In each chapter you will decipher a handful of messages, each getting more complex than the last and it is easy to be overwhelmed by the relentless dots and dashes. Accompanying the game is a cheat sheet to help just experience the story, but I do urge that with patience, even adding one letter each time you play the message, the intrigue will deepen and the payoff will grow.

While many games are somewhat technical, your interface with the controls defining your progress, the challenge of Airwaves happens almost entirely outside itself. Deciphering each message happens on paper, this real space letting your actions connect you with the character in a physical way.

Maybe because of this connection the transitions can sometimes feel clumsy. The shifts in time and your character’s lucidity are sometimes jarring, in part because of their frequency, in part because of the directness of the writing, and in part because that physical connection only extends to the code breaking and not the character themselves.

Outside of these transitions, however, the writing is a mix of feverish, folklorish magical realism and state documents that meshes a politically bureaucratic world with a deep history. It can be hard to grasp the concrete elements of the story, but the vivid imagery carried me through any moments of confusion.

In each chapter you are placed in a new environment with objects to explore, each offering a panel of text that appears to offer historical context to it. With a story so drenched in fantasy it is sometimes hard to tell where the reality parts from the fiction, regardless, each detail is enticing outside of its potentially educational role.

Airwaves engages an unexpected skill in an effective way to draw you into a compellingly twisted narrative. It’s currently available on itch for you to name your own price. The rest of Michael Luo’s work can be found on his website.

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Scratching the Itch

Last Train Home

It’s dark. The sound of the train lulls you into a mode of complacency, waiting for your stop, but you know something is wrong. The carriages are eerily quiet. The passengers are in a purgatory-like state. It feels familiarly like a train home and that’s the trap.

Last Train Home was made for MiniJam 47 by hby. For a maker who only has a few games under their belt this is a great achievement.

Your interaction with the game is simple, you move left and right through the train cars and talk to people with ‘x’. Most elements of the game are solved through fetch quests where one NPC will have the item that another needs.

Your control of the character, as is common in horror games, is a central part of the horror. You move slowly and you’re only armed with simple interaction. If posed with a threat then your arsenal to deal with that is within that very limited and very human frame.

The atmosphere is a clear stand out, however. The sounds of the train are perfect. The movement of the screen keeps you with the movement of the carriage in a way that theatre students bobbing in unison could only dream of.

The game is a well contained entity, the build up perfectly paced for the unravelling pay-off at the end. The pay-off itself is part predictable and part surprising, enough for me to satisfy my curiosity and fuel my fear. The ending, avoiding any spoilers, is an excellently realised moment, the simplicity of the game reaching an unexpected visual crescendo.

In around 15 minutes, Last Train Home offers an accomplished and contained narrative horror experience. Here’s hoping hby brings us more in the future.

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Scratching the Itch

RE:RUN

You run fast and platform faster. They attack erraticly, but precisely. you can be dead in seconds, but respawn a second later. This is non-stop action with careful thinking required to land the jumps and hits to get to the end of each level.

RE:RUN is made by Dani with a great soundtrack by Neo Nomen, both of them with large YouTube followings. Dani is making a name for himself with physics based shooters and platformers. This one, made as a part of the 4th Brackeys Jam, is proof that he’s one to watch.

The level design is unique in that it often spreads in a few directions. Each time you collect a power-up, you are sent back to the start of the level, often with a new path now open to you, it either being accessible only by double-jump or with a wooden plank blocking the path that needs a sword to break.

The platforming and combat are both janky as hell, but that’s a core part of the fun. Landing a jump is fiddly from how fast you’re going, you have Overgrowth (currently on sale) levels of airtime on floaty jumps to reach awkward, seemingly impossible distances. That feeling of airtime though is brilliant, especially when it’s coupled with landing a perfect swing to knock a ragdoll enemy off the side of a platform.

Without perfect polish, this game goes straight for the pure joy of jumping and fighting. Each of the 10 levels offer a new challenge that isn’t just a simple step on from the last. The puzzle-like interation with where to go in the environment and how to deal with the enemies, mixed with the chaos of combat makes the experience a tonne of fun each time.

Dani has an upcoming game on steam, KARLSON, which looks to be going further with the same sort of ideas here. RE:RUN, in the meantime, is simple, fun, and easy to lose yourself in for a bit over half an hour.

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Scratching the Itch

Terra Nil

This world is barren and toxic, but you get to save it. With a selection of recognisable and solarpunk eco-machines your task is to transform a desolate wasteland into a lush ecosystem. Still in active development, Terra Nil by Sam Alfred, Jonathan Hau-Yoon, and Jarred Lunt is already an incredible eco strategy game.

The environment is made a delicate puzzle. You must power your structures with turbines, but turbines need hills made with your own water wheels, these wheels need new waterways made with extractors that need their own power from those wind turbines. Your tools require an ecosystem of their own to function, this challenge forming the spine of the game’s difficulty.

Rejuvinating the environment comes in three stages. Firstly, you clean the land, using greenhouses to convert the wastes to grassland. Then you bring biodiversity, bees make meadows of flower, by creating careful fires you encourage woodland out of the ash, and with updated greenhouses you can encourage wetlands and arid scrublands. Finally, you deconstruct your buildings, leaving the world to flourish alone and create a rocket to fly the parts away.

Each building remains until it is removed in the final stage. This small and honest feature encourages careful planning and attention to the importance of each of your actions. With a limited set of resources you can’t litter the land with eco-machines, that will only make your recovery mission fail. It’s these small, thoughtful mechanics that make this a game that is genuinely concerned with the reality of care for an ecosystem, even if told through a sci-fi lens.

Difficulty is the main downside the game currently has, early levels are incredibly straightforward and the final level has had me stuck for hours, getting close, but constantly hitting a wall. Meadows can be infuriating to create when you need woodland trees to do so, but woodlands can only be made by burning meadows, a viscious loop that can leave you needing to restart if there’s too much woodland or too little surrounding grassland.

That being said, early levels are awe inspiring and later levels are filled with a pragmatism. The real world struggle for the enviroment is an uphill battle, having this control over an ecological mission is freeing from that. To see once dessicated environemnts made whole filled me with a sense of power and joy.

The challenges of later levels reminded me of the delicate struggle that we are in, finding a way to discover a lifestyle that interfaces with our environment. Instead of being disheartening, the rising hope of early levels left me with a desire to find a way to make the harsher challenges work and transform the wastes of the game and the world we live in.

Terra Nil is already a brilliant game to play and a beautiful musing on ecology. Technology may not be the way we save our own environment, but it’s fun and hopeful to play the fantasy of it. Keep an eye out for v1.0.

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Scratching the Itch

The First Step

The First Step by Vsevolod Sevostianov and Katrin Kuskova is a simple puzzle game that doesn’t tell you the rules.

Each level is a grid of colourful, patterned tiles (though if the patterns aren’t to your taste you can turn them off). You click on one of the tiles and set in motion a ball of light that will start a journey from tile to tile, removing the tile it leaves, one by one, until none remain or it has nowhere to go. The way the ball moves is determined by the colour of the tile it is on, for example red will move the ball to the left.

The concept is simple, but your understanding of the game is its uniqueness. You aren’t made aware of the properties of each colour tile, and as teleporter tiles are introduced you are left to learn that for yourself and fail in the process.

This is where The First Step is special, you are encouraged to learn from your mistakes through trial and error. The serenity of the audio and visuals brought me to a state where I was happy to relinquish control, let the ball take its path and see what better place it could have started. I never felt like I needed to learn the properties of the tiles. Instead I was contented with failing and improving which, in wider life and games, is a hard feeling to capture.

Inconsistently, the game does offer a tutorial for a new mechanic in the final 3rd. As tiles that make your ball jump a space are introduced, a pop-up appears to tell you the properties of each colour jumping square. I mostly ignored the window, it’s a strange choice to go from being offered no information to suddenly being guided. Despite the information interruption the feeling of cluelessly fail forward continued, but a sad shadow of feeling the need to engage in a more traditionally puzzle solving way haunting my progress.

The strong sense of positive failure is also challenged by the fact that you are given a set of lives. You get quite a generous set, but there is a growing sense these your failures will cost you as a set of poor judgement calls can start to burn these lives away.

These stalking stakes give your choices weight, you can’t just click randomly and you do have to think to progress, but the thought of replaying the same puzzles wasn’t fun. The ball moves at a leisurely pace and, though I didn’t lose all my lives and don’t know what happens in that case, I likely wouldn’t have seen the end if I was sent back to the start.

The First Step offers a space to reflect on accpeting failure. The game won’t take you more than 20 minutes if you manage to get by on the lives you’re given and the journey might just fortify you against the pressures of the world.

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Scratching the Itch

The Night Fisherman and The Outcast Lovers

Far Few Giants have been working on larger projects for a few years now, putting together short VR narrative projects. Recently the two developers have broken off on their own to make The Night Fisherman and The Outcast Lovers, both available to play for free right now.

The Night Fisherman and The Outcast Lovers tell an intense, interactive story of an immigrant in the English Channel and the people that have a chance to harbour and help them. Both have arresting visuals that are saturated with a stark colour scheme and each take only 10 minutes to play. The first of the two is a little clumsy with some missing assets, but the writing and the story more than let you overlook some rough edges. 

Both games are currently available on itch.io where you can pay what you want and also find their extensive back-catalogue of shorter collabs for game jams past. The Night Fisherman is also on Steam with The Outcast Lovers joining it on the 29th July. Far Few Giants are set up on Patreon offering a new narrative game every month and if they continue with this quality production then they’re more than worth supporting.

Far Few Giants are working towards Ring of Fire, adetective noir puzzler set in the solarpunk utopia of New London’. You can play the prologue for this right now on itch.io and Steam with the full game set to drop some time in 2021.

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Having a Think

Floating with Fear: Bioshock’s Fear of the Future

The world of Bioshock Infinite is a utopia so long as you’re a white American. This is a neat phrase, but it’s also wrong. It’s perhaps unfair to assess Bioshock Infinite by the current cultural conditions, it being released seven years ago and the company responsible for the game having released nothing since to benchmark it against. Regardless it is important to look back at our cultural products and Bioshock Infinite is a story that fails to satisfactorily look at the system it presents. A better, though maybe less neat of a phrase to describe the world of Bioshock Infinite is that it is held up by a fear that we, the player, only get hints of.

Bioshock as a series is about demagogues, the figures that stand on a pedestal and make promises for the future. These stories are situated in the birth of modern capitalism, a time rife with the cruel pseudoscience of eugenics, vivid racial oppression, and class exploitation. Bioshock paints these issues well and warns against those that promise a better society based on these principles. It is, however, Bioshocks’ critique of demagogues which is also its undoing. While those that set up these societies are the true villain, any figure that promises an alternative is painted in the same light. They are the victims of a false equivalency that is common in the world, often presented with the common trope that if you rise up by violent means then you are as evil as those you overtook.

What does Bioshock pose instead? Not much. Rapture, the location of the first two games, naturally degrades into chaos. Columbia, the location of Infinite, meets much the same fate. These descents, a result of class and racial revolutions respectively, both leaving these false utopias a wreck and offering no hope of a future. The only hope your characters seem to have is to get away and never look back on the failed experiments that have left countless lives in ruin. Bioshock’s ultimate failure is its hopelessness. Individuals may survive, but a better tomorrow is always a doomed mission, regardless of if it is promised by the capitalist individualist Andrew Ryan, the communist collectivist Sofia Lamb, the pious segregationist Zackary Comstock, or the populist revolutionary Daisy Fitzroy. All are shown in starkly evil terms.

These games are far from being on the side of the oppressors, they paint the oppressed in a sympathetic light and refuse to shy away from the hardships, albeit at the same time they use tokenistic stereotypes for some of their POC characters. By refusing a positive future for revolution, Bioshock is adding to a culture of fear mongering that leads to half-steps towards progress. Its message for society is inherently nihilist, the present, the past, and the future, all impossibly flawed, the only hope left is in escape. What message does this have to the real world beyond a complacency born out of fear?

Ironically, considering the first two games’ penchant for shock, fear is the biggest element that is overlooked in Bioshock. Most notably for those whose lives benefit from Rapture and Columbia. Fear is a big part of the demagogue’s promise, particularly in Bioshock. To lift some relevant analysis from Roger Eatwell and Mathew Goodwin’s book on National Populism, there are a few big pillars that prove the foundation of this movement. These are a fear of destruction of a historic national identity, a distrust of the established elites, and a fear of incoming deprivation, all leading to a dealignment with traditional political systems. This dealignment is where the demagogues come in, they sway people using these fears, offering a direct, pragmatic solution. 

But, so long as a fear is fed it will never disappear. Those that benefit from the systems offered by Bioshock’s demagogues have their fears built up day by day, manifesting in a paranoia that Bioshock fails to depict. We are expected to believe that Rapture and Columbia are ideal for those that fit in, but we only see its successes and failures, never the people in the awkward middle. This kind of societal paranoia manifests in self-hatred and internal struggle for all but its most pious members. These kinds of totalitarian societies can only work in the way that they are shown if they have constant cycles of reasserting paranoia. In ways this is shown in both, but the focus is always on the other rather than any internal threat, failing to address the impact on even those that the system benefits.

Bioshock’s worlds are open to be seen as functional for the lucky few, but the reality is that in these societies no one wins. The oppressors become trapped by fear, forced by a mental oppression of their own making to fulfil their role, keep their identity in check so they remain on top. These figures don’t need a game to show them sympathy, but Bioshock misses out by not depicting them. The world of Bioshock Infinite is not a utopia, even one for the white American, it is a form of mental and physical oppression for all involved.

Unlike the characters, we cannot run from our systems of oppression and we cannot be fearful of every promise of the future. Instead, we should strive towards unpicking these notions of a perfect past and live in hope for a better future.

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Having a Think

Enemy Types and Drone Strikes

Sleeping Dogs by United Front Games is about an undercover cop rising through the ranks of the Honk Kong triad. The police are the bad guys, or certain cops are, and they’re the good guys, or so we’re trained to think. The Triad are the good guys, or certain characters are forgivable, and they’re the bad guys, or so we’re trained to think. The game’s plot treads this line well, corruption is systemic in the police force but their job is to ‘do good’, and while the Triad’s actions are far from forgivable their members are people who you can understand and sympathise with. The game’s plot is welcome nuance for an open-world crime game, but its gameplay shows us the abstraction we’ve had buried deep into our perception.

The fighting in Sleeping Dogs favours martial combat over gunplay, with a range of different opponents that force you to switch up tactics. Larger opponents attempt to grapple you so you should hit them with heavy attacks, opponents with fist wraps are impossible to interrupt so you should counter them and grapple them. You become trained while playing the game to look for and identify types of people, determining how they threaten you and how you should respond. In some side missions, once you have defeated a small gang, you can hack a camera in their hangout, hooking it up to your apartment to catch their Triad contact and point them out to the police. This contact always looks the same, suited and often on their phone or with a briefcase. You never see their illegal activity, but you know they’re a criminal from how they look, where they are, and who they’re hanging out with.

Sleeping Dogs is not a villain, but it’s indicative of a way of thinking that shelters us from a complex reality where our governments are complicit in far away violence. Collateral damage from a drone strike is forgiven, if someone is accidentally at a military target then what might they have had to hide? If a school or hospital is destroyed then surely it was the ‘enemy’s fault for hiding behind civilian infrastructure. A drone operator sees a target marked by military intelligence and clicks a button. The hero of Sleeping Dogs sees a member of the Triad, you click a button, and the police take them away.

This visual simplicity does not make Sleeping Dogs a bad game, instead it makes it a great one. These methods are tied to the very heart of how video games function, a perfect unity of visuals and interaction is a mark of an effective game. So should video games rethink what makes them effective? Probably not, while games (especially AAA) can do much more to think of the impact of their gameplay and how it relates to its narrative, reality should be our focus. If modern warfare tactics, both on the battlefield and how it is communicated to the people, are drifting further from reality then we must work extra hard to sensitise ourselves to the unwelcome truth.