Society

One of the unspoken rules of gaming is that the player must always be moving forward. This is a sensible approach from a gameplay perspective. After all, it’s hard to enjoy yourself when you’re failing. But that frequently leaves the story trying to prop up the triumphalist gameplay with propaganda.

Society is a strategy game that makes this message explicit. You play as a great leader who is spreading her society to other towns, consuming resources and gaining culture to use to convert even more towns into your society. As time goes on towns get more set in their own ways, and their societies become more difficult to integrate. In order to not be overwhelmed by their culture, you need followers to help you. You get followers by revisiting towns you have previously converted and “harvesting” them. This reduces their culture back to zero, but gives you a follower and a lot of culture for yourself, culture which you can use to convert new towns. Your goal is to gain as much culture as possible before time runs out.

The message is pretty clear by the author, a society must always expand and always be converting people to its cause, or it will die. The subtitle of the game is “a game about progress,” and the loading screen says things like “You should feel pity for those outside your influence.” Not only does Society work as a strategy game, but it’s also clearly trying to communicate meaning with its gameplay.

Talking Points: Does the message Society sends with its gameplay match with the theme? Does the overt nature of the text help or hinder the message? Do the retro graphics help simplify and keep the subject matter symbolic?

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Comments

This game reminds me a bit of Age of Booty (except for the fog of war).

I don't think much of the theme -- it's Civ-style expansionism, basically. The graphics are nicely utilitarian. The game deserves a look but I'm struggling to find something worth arguing about.

I'll play your game, you rogue.

Meanwhile, I start with the assumption that this is the soundtrack:

I have to say, it's pretty darn fun. I love the C64-esque musical beeps and boops and find the time-limit both creates urgency and keeps the play session short. I'm not sure if the message comes through, but I'll have to reflect further on it as I play more.

Interesting. My top score is 17248, but I have to admit that the game seemed fairly boring to me. Even at 7 minutes the exploration/harvesting mechanic was inflaming my short attention span pretty strongly. It felt almost - dare I say it? - like a Facebook game, what with the constant scheduled return trips to harvest the converted cities. And it lays out pretty clearly why Facebook-style game mechanics have never appealed to me.

I think that, at best, the game and graphics would scratch itches that have already been scratched for me recently.

I bet that the message would mean more to me if I weren't such an ethically mindful player of Paradox games.

For the record, I only had to enforce my culture on Morocco because Two Sicilies forced the issue.

Switchbreak wrote:

Interesting. My top score is 17248, but I have to admit that the game seemed fairly boring to me. Even at 7 minutes the exploration/harvesting mechanic was inflaming my short attention span pretty strongly. It felt almost - dare I say it? - like a Facebook game, what with the constant scheduled return trips to harvest the converted cities. And it lays out pretty clearly why Facebook-style game mechanics have never appealed to me.

The trick is not to back track but rather to circle around your original capital.

I think the mechanics could be kinda interesting, but that would take an opponent.