I play all sorts of video games in my free time: from light-hearted games intended for younger audiences such as the Pokemon series, to games that have more mature themes and political messages, such as the Deus Ex series. Though with all the political messages now popping up everywhere in video games, and games journalism outlets, in an effort to push a narrative: there is a clear want to control how people perceive and consume the media around them, and this is reflected in multiple news articles and opinion pieces.
My political game pick for this year is not necessarily a good game: it is entertaining in the sense that the animation and characters are funny and cute. This game, however, is not being chosen for its quality or awesome gaming mechanics and solid musical score. I am picking it more for the message it delivers, and that it is a short game that pretty much anyone can play through in the same amount of time it might take you to finish a cup of coffee.
We Become What We Behold is a free game made by Nicky Case and from what I can tell the message it is trying to deliver is that, in our effort to report on anything remotely newsworthy, we can create situations that could have otherwise been avoided: making things far worse then we end up making better. The game goads you into only taking snapshots of things deemed interesting. Taking pictures of the characters going about their day to day lives offers no advancement in the game: only when you take a picture of something unique, or interesting, does the game advance towards its conclusion.
It’s a lot like what you see from normal news articles these days: it exaggerates what is actually happening to spin a narrative to get more people reading, clicking, or watching. Slowly but surely, every one of these citizens of this unknown place starts becoming distrusting and worried about one another, as you keep taking more and more shots, advancing the game.
A game about news cycles, vicious cycles, infinite cycles.
A simple, effective yet powerful message about the world around us as news relates to the impact it can have on people. Like I said: it isn’t what I would call a good game, but it is a very political game with a powerful message and its ending is also kind of hilarious. You can play it for free here.