By Ed Halter on Wednesday, September 24th, 2008 at 11:20 am.
Italian artists Molleindustria promise "radical games against the dictatorship of entertainment," and their latest effort may be their most direct statement against the pleasure industry to date. Touted as "playable theory," the Free Culture Game offers a ludic metaphor for the battle between copyright encroachments and the free exchange of knowledge, ideas and art. A circular field represents The Common, where knowledge can be freely shared and created; your job is to maintain a healthy ecology of yellow idea-bubbles bouncing from person to person before they can be sucked into the dark outer ring representing the forces of The Market. Your cursor, shaped like the Creative Commons logo, pushes the ideas around with a sort of reverse-magnetic repulsion field (a clever alternative to the typical shooting, eating or jumping-on-top-of-and-smooshing actions of many other 2-D games). People who absorb free, round ideas stay green and happy, while those who only consume square market-produced ones become grey and inverted. The game never really ends: you can only do better or worse, suggesting by analogy that the fight for free culture will be an ongoing struggle without end. For those who wish to kill additional worktime minutes, Molleindustria's site includes an archive of past games, which take on topics such as the clash of religions, the Catholic Church pedophile scandal, flextime, labor and their notorious take on McDonald's, a cute simulator that takes you from slaughterhouse to boardroom. - Ed Halter