Semiotic Disobedience: Anti-Advergames

September 8, 2006

Persuasive Games has carved out a niche for itself making distinctive educational, political and promotional game experiences. Their most recent effort, an “anti-advergame” called Disaffected!, “puts the player in the role of employees forced to service customers under the particular incompetences common to a Kinko’s store.” This playful anti-corporate agit-prop recently caught the attention Rob Walker in the New York Times Magazine’s Consumed column:

Skepticism about, and mockery of, the claims of commercial persuasion has a long history. And “Disaffected!” shows how the sophistication, goals and tactics of both admakers and anti-admakers have escalated in tandem. It can also be seen as an example of what Sonia Katyal, a Fordham University law professor, calls “semiotic disobedience” in an article to be published this fall in the Washington University Law Review. (NYTMag)

Persuasive’s other games suggest a deep commitment to mining the activist potential in interactive “diversions.” Here’s a small sample from their website:

Airport Insecurity – a game about inconvenience and the tradeoffs between security and rights in American airports. While the government wants you to believe that increased protection and reduced rights are necessary to protect you from terrorism, the effectiveness of airport security practices is uncertain.

Take Back Illinois – Sponsored by the Illinois GOP, Take Back Illinois challenged players to explore four issues surrounding the 2004 state elections: Medical Malpractice Reform, Education Reform, Grassroots Activism, and Economic Reform. Take Back Illinois was a 2005 Slamdance Independent Game Festival Finalist.

Activism, The Public Policy Game – Sponsored by the DCCC and released during the height of the 2004 general election, players are challenged to balance six public policy issues with limited time and resources. (Persuasive Games)

Via Grand Text Auto

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