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BoRT April ’09 [The Wire]

April 19, 2009

w_logoA note before I begin this Blogs of the Round Table post, you may have noticed that there is a drought of content on this site. This was mentioned before at the beginning of this month. The main reason—aside from poor time management—is that these last weeks of April mark the final weeks of the semester. As I am preoccupied with papers, presentations, and undergraduate grading my time has become criminally limited. I will try to post at least once a week, but until mid-May I will be predisposed with other responsibilities for the coming weeks. With that in mind, let us begin this BoRT entry.

I doubt that I would ever become a game designer. If I ever made a game it would not only be too subversive but more importantly, not fun. Hence, my BoRT entry this month will concern with what I feel is a futile social problem: the drug war. The reason I have decided to choose this as my social problem of note in my personal BoRT entry is because of two reasons. One is a recent interview with The Wire creator David Simon and his thoughts on the War on Drugs and because of the addictiveness of the recent drug-trafficking mini-game in Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars for the Nintendo DS.

The War on Drugs has been a notable topic of late with the increasing transportation of drugs from Mexico to the United States as well as drug trade being a large issue of inner city America. To understand my approach of design for my game, you have to understand my own stance on drugs in the United States. I feel that the War on Drugs is an effort in futility because it is not a war on narcotics but on a class structure in the United States. These are communities that are not integrated into the majority of what is seen as society because they are not wanted in our society.

This country is already passed the crisis of overpopulation. Thirty-percent of those living in the United States are unable to find desirable jobs for our society nor do we have enough jobs for them. Instead, the system has pushed these social communities to the corners of society where there is no economical growth for them to reach for. As a result, the drug trade is a mature market in existence and an economic structure for many to become active. Any regulation or justice system cannot stop the traffick, consumption, and market of drugs. Our judicial system has instead placed meaningless quotas in an effort to look like results, an overcrowded prison system for convicts that are given unjust sentences, plus an economic and social system that continues to squeeze upon this social class.

Truth: don't hate the player; hate the game.

Truth: don't hate the player; hate the game.

Futility is the theme of the game; futility that the current structure of our social system and its approach to the War on Drugs does not produce any sort of positive result. The player will be given a randomly generated map symbolizing a ghetto and sectors of that map will be the primary areas where there is the most drug trafficking occurring. The game will be under the genre of an RTS where the player is given fixed control points that provide resources such as finance (governmental funds), man-power (criminal justice), and population (prison space.) The goal is to stop drug trafficking coming into surrounding areas as well as minimize or snuff out these areas of high drug trade.

This is basically an invading campaign where the player is meant to take over control points that are already controlled by drug lords. If the player successfully captures a point then the surrounding areas will begin to invade the recently capture point (i.e. if you imprison one drug lord then five more will take his place). As the player captures more points this area will add to their overall population resource thereby not only limiting their manpower but also filling up their population. The player may attempt to capture control points in a variety of ways either by completely invading that point or attempting to or capturing surrounding points thereby making the key capture point more dense and thereby harder to get.

My intention is to create a battle of attrition similar to the many endgames of Civilization. The experience I hope to convey is that by stopping drug trafficking an in area it become harder to solve it in the next. At the same time, the player must continue protect that newly captured area which continues to drain resources for the player. The goal is not to win, but rather understand that the current system of rules that the game is based on, which in-turn reflects the reality of the current system that society is approaching the War on Drugs, is broken and futile. The player will eventually give up before the level can end never truly winning the War on Drugs.

You can view more of this month’s BoRT entries at the Main Hall at Man Bytes Blog.

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