For this week on activism and other political ideologies in video games I chose to play Branches of Power from the icivics.org website. The game’s message from what I took away is that in politics, it’s really a game with a set of rules and while people have their priorities, these priorities will get bent and construed for other things that need to be done for the sake of the country. I found it amusing that I couldn’t pick and choose what I really wanted in the bills I was trying to propose, I had to bend to the will of the house and the senate in order to pass something. The game really emphasized on the fact that you can’t do whatever you want in politics, and there’s a huge dynamic at large involving the public, the rest of the government (and less said but also the corporate backers). This game really laid into the idea that in politics, you can’t always get what you want done because of this dynamic. It was so difficult finding something that would work for both the senate and the house, I was losing my mind, I just wanted something to pass so I started tacking on clauses left and right just hoping SOMEONE would like what I’m doing. I ended up not getting much passed because of it, and I felt like my morals and ethics went out the window, I was no longer caring about what my bill actually did — I was a failed leader.
Link to game: https://www.icivics.org/games/branches-power
I believe out of the listed ways game devs can express values in games according to Flanagan and Nissenbaum would be under the category of Translation (Flanagan & Nissenbaum p. 185) due to “…This is the activity of embodying or expressing values in systems design. It comprises three sub-activities: Operationalization, Implementation, and Resolving Value-
Conflicts.” I believe specifically it falls under this because of the way the mechanics of the game operate to convey the message. In the game, there’s 3 branches of the government which all have to get along and agree on bills proposed and passed. This fundamental game design mechanic embodies translation of values through the gameplay itself. I believe though, that this circles back to the idea that it’s really difficult for so many bills to pass through congress because of the way that our government is set up and with everyone’s priorities being different. This game puts politics into a interesting and rarely-thought-about perspective.