Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Oiligarchy: Life imitating art?

In the awkward time between the end of finals and the beginning of internships, I've been watching a lot of movies, reading a few books, and playing a lot of video games. (As well as sitting around outside and playing with my dog...)

I stumbled upon a game called Oiligarchy. You are the CEO of an oil company: you can drill all over the world (Texas, Alaska, Venezuela, Iraq, and Nigeria), corrupt politicians, increase oil addiction, and stop alternative energies.

What I found interesting/sad was how eerily the game imitates real life. Throughout the game, the player can see the oil reserves depleting and the people becoming restless. Also interesting are little news articles/political acts that pop up, such as "Electric Car Pilot Program Act" or "The Trolley Preservation Act" (an act that increases the oil addiction by preserving all trolleys, as public forms of transportation, in museums), depending on how you play the game.

The game has two endings and lots of details. For example, in Venezuela when you put an oil rig down you destroy rainforest. In Nigeria, when you start exploring the land, all the fish in the pond die. Though some people have thought that this is a pro-oil game, it's actually a very clever satire and critique of the oil industry as well as American consumerism.

One reviewer calls this game "one of the most important games released this year" and says "selfish short-term greed runs this game." Life imitating art or art imitating life?

Image from: http://www.molleindustria.org/


  1. How interesting! I think it is entertaining that a company is designing video games to make social and political statements--more power them (I saw the McDonald's game as well). However, I only worry that too many users will ignore the satire built into it and just revel in the exploitation.

  2. hahaha i tried playing the mcdonald's game. it's really hard.

    but i think i disagree with you. try playing the game and you'll see what i'm talking about

  3. I have not played either game (searched for the McDonald game and here it is: http://www.mcvideogame.com/index-eng.html just in case anyone wants to know the link)....

    however, I think that the people playing these will likely be interested already, or else they would be turned off by the clear sentiment behind the games. Hopefully the games can influence/ inform people who are not very aware or have not yet made lifestyle changes. If nothing else, the games seem pretty fun/ a nice way to let off steam about things that piss me off :-)

  4. Oh my God this game is WONDERFUL.