informa
News

Feature: When Creative Pressure Creates Cultural Insensitivity

In Gamasutra's latest feature, an in-depth report from inside Sydney's Global Game Jam, our reporter finds that the pressure to create can lead to unintended consequences for the meaning of one team's game.
In Gamasutra's latest feature, an in-depth report from inside Sydney's Global Game Jam, our reporter finds that the pressure to create can lead to unintended consequences for the meaning of one team's game. Reporter Saul Alexander joined up with a team at the Sydney, Australia offshoot the Global Game Jam, which took place all across the world this January. While he was there, he got a first-hand look at how quick decision-making can hurt a project. Early on, while the team felt it had a lot of time, decisions were made carefully. Writes Alexander, "Someone suggests an Aboriginal art style, but that is rejected because it could be seen as culturally insensitive." The Global Game Jam's theme, assigned by its organizers, is "extinction." While the group has chosen to explore is "extinction of culture and language", writes Alexander, "They're very aware that a game which focuses on the destruction of culture could be misconstrued by any number of cultural groups." However, things take a turn for the worse as the game reaches completion. "For the past decade, 'protecting' the borders from the tiny trickle of refugees who arrive in Australia by boat has been a hot political issue," writes Alexander. Problem: the game forces you to protect a city from aliens who bring their own ideas and language -- and eventually, inevitably, overwhelm yours. "I marvel that it's only at this very late stage that any of us have seen that the game could be open to this interpretation," Alexander writes. It's clear that the game's final form is driven more by a need to create a game under extreme constraints. Familar mechanics are settled on before their implications for meaning are examined. Writes Alexander: The intended message, then, is not "foreign cultures need to be kept out", but rather "it is inevitable that cultures will be subsumed into other cultures, whether or not you try to keep them out." The trouble arises because of the way we're used to playing games -- Duat contains clear "enemies", a clear player goal, and a clear end to the player's involvement, all the aspects of a traditional video game. You "die" and you take it personally -- you feel you've failed at your goal, which was to keep the "immigrants" out. The full feature, which goes into great depth into the creative process behind the above-mentioned game, Duat, and has more insights into the Sydney Global Game Jam, is live now on Gamasutra.

Latest Jobs

Infinity Ward

Woodland Hills, California
11.3.21
Sr. Multiplayer Design Scripter/Programmer

Disbelief

Cambridge, Massachusetts
11.3.21
Jr. Programmer

XSEED

Torrance, California
11.3.21
Head of Marketing
More Jobs   

CONNECT WITH US

Register for a
Subscribe to
Follow us

Game Developer Account

Game Developer Newsletter

@gamedevdotcom

Register for a

Game Developer Account

Gain full access to resources (events, white paper, webinars, reports, etc)
Single sign-on to all Informa products

Register
Subscribe to

Game Developer Newsletter

Get daily Game Developer top stories every morning straight into your inbox

Subscribe
Follow us

@gamedevdotcom

Follow us @gamedevdotcom to stay up-to-date with the latest news & insider information about events & more