Musings: Protest

I tuned in to PRI: The World during a long car ride last night and listened to an article on the revolution in Syria.┬áSome 70,000 protestors took to the streets in Homs this week, in a country where it is decidedly dangerous to march or voice dissent with the government. The story set me pondering on a topic that’s consumed much of my attention throughout the year: protest and revolution. It strikes me that a game on these topics could, if executed properly, be an engaging and interesting title.

Eric and I have a few things to polish up with Shaped, but we discussed adopting a protest game as our next project and we both felt the idea had some merit. I’ve spent this morning thinking about imagery and themes, and am working my way around to imagining gameplay. I’m blogging now about these musings in an effort to organize my thoughts and capture the game-making process, which both Eric and I love to do.

Some thoughts:

Eric and I agree that the game should probably not be a sim. The goal is not to expose the player to the logistics of protest – as fascinating as those may be. For this title I want to avoid as much as possible the use of numbers and gauges or tech trees. Nor are we looking to make the game about a particular issue: civil rights, abortion, the arab spring (although I have to admit that the imagery of the Arab spring really does inspire me.) This game would seek to capture various themes of protest: resistance, bravery in the face of danger, many becoming one, protesting in the face of pain or grief, being part of a movement, the human mass, non-violent courage… etc.

I’ve spent the morning doing some research and building up a library of protest images as a reference.

Next on the list is to build up a library of protest videos and – what I’m really looking forward to – chants. I have a strong feeling that the game will focus heavily on human voices. It can be a great way to demonstrate progression for the player. At the start of a protest the player might be a single voice, but as the crowd/movement/mob grows the chant would be repeated by many. There’s real power in human voices working together. It could make sense musically, too – I could develop 10 or so chants and use them to provide the beat for a musical theme… God I’m looking forward to making the music and chants for this game.

The lesson we learned from Shaped was to simplify, simplify.┬áSo off the bat I should realize that the game can’t be everything I want it to be. It certainly can’t capture every mood associated with protesting. Maybe Eric and I should focus on 3, and work off of that.

I’m going to do some drawing, now. See what kind of style hits me.