There have been many, many games about history, but most come from the wargame tradition—recreating battles fought by great generals or set at particularly dramatic moments, but always focusing on the physical conflicts of history, armies marching on each other with certain objectives.
This leaves out many types of historical events that just can’t be meaningfully modeled with troops and dice tables. How do you talk about a clandestine coup by the CIA in a war game? It becomes much harder to discern anything meaningful from pieces, hexes and stats.
The Cat and the Coup takes an entirely different approach, discussing the life of Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran. As Dr. Mossadegh lays dying you play as his cat, moving together throughout various scenes in his life and coercing him to move onward. You can only interact with the world in a truly feline fashion, by jumping about the room and swiping at things with your paws. The game is presented in a symbolic style modeled after 13th century Persian miniatures. It’s a stunning look, but it provides interesting context given the subject matter.
As the cat, the player is frequently put into situations where you’re effecting Dr. Mossadegh’s life in profound ways. The scenes are symbolic, the struggle of Dr. Mossadegh to catch a fallen inkwell leads him tumbling down past a bulldog wearing a British-flag top hat. The effect is striking, bringing historical events without clear, meaningful physical representations into stark focus.
Talking Points: How does the game get its point across? What is the point? Was the game educational about history? How would this have been presented in a war game? What about a more traditional adventure game?