Arts & Culture

Politics and Video Games Come Together in a Test to Change Societies

In "Games and Politics," 18 politically themed video games were designed to confront issues of gender politics, migration, the morality of war, and surveillance of state.
IMAGE GOETHE INSTITUT
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In “Games and Politics,” a traveling interactive exhibit produced by the Goethe Institute in cooperation with Germany’s ZKM | Center for Art and Media, the notion that video games can affect social and political thought is explored. After opening at the new Arete building at the Ateneo de Manila in Quezon City in September, the exhibit moves to the Alienware Lab of the College of St. Benilde where a 24-hour game jam takes place from October 6 to 7, and then back to the Ateneo campus for the exhibition closing on October 21.


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Working under the hypothesis “Can video games change societies?” organizers present 18 politically themed video games on various gaming consoles designed to confront issues including gender politics, migration, surveillance by the state, and the morality of war. In This War of Mine, those familiar with role-playing war games experience a twist as they don’t play the hero shooting the enemy; instead they step into the shoes of civilians struggling to survive the horrors of war. In another game, The Perfect Woman, players stand in front of an Xbox One Kinect and match their poses with that of the woman onscreen; it's a convincing critique of female stereotypes and shows that “womanhood can be a contortion act.” Then through the game Orwell we learn what it means when “Big Brother is watching.”


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Set in a fictional country, we experience state surveillance and the balance between freedom of speech and matters of national security. It sounds scarily close to the real thing. Ongoing until October 21, Areté, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City; De La Salle University-College of St. Benilde Campus, Pablo Ocampo Street, Manila; for additional details, visit Goethe.de/manila.

This story was originally published in the October 2017 issue of Town&Country.

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Pierre A. Calasanz
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