Why Not Games




THE SYPHILISATION MANIFESTO

I announced Syphilisation about a month ago and wrote an early piece on the desired aesthetics shortly after.

The Issue

The issue is that this is a game that comes from a clever name and a clever name is not a full game. I got the term Syphilisation from Joyce's Ulysses, where it's used to disparage Western Civilization in the form of the British from the perspective of the Irish. In video games, this becomes more interesting due to the existence of Civilization, one of the greatest video game series and some of my favorite games ever, but also one worth questioning in the way of Joyce's citizen of the pub.

I think my real question is that of the ethics underpinning Western Civilization and which are built into the Civilization games as well. I think both of them have a sense of deeply ingrained nationalism that I understand, but I also think is worth discussing. In Civilization 6, the establishment of a Martian colony is a victory for that player, but in the real world, isn't it a victory for the whole world? Imagine a country that is not your own is on track to building that colony on Mars, would you want your country to sabotage their spaceports with spies or would you want to help? I don't care that America won a Cultural Victory decades ago as long as I can enjoy it too.

I despise wars of opportunism in the real world and yet Civilization, and many people that I know, argue in their favor. The reason to avoid war is not war weariness in your cities or diplomatic repercussions. It is the fact that millions of people will die and millions more will suffer. There is a tremendous, human cost in each one that Civilization does not acknowledge.

My point is not that the Civilization series should not have included war, an action key to any discussion of history, or even that war should be more penalized. It is that a game that is as much about fantasy-fulfillment as Civilization should allow me a fantasy less explicitly nationalistic.

THE STATEMENT

I'M MAKING A GAME WHERE YOU PLAY A STUDENT IN A GROUP SO THAT YOU UNDERSTAND THAT WAR GETS PEOPLE HURT AND THEN YOU CAN DECIDE IF IT'S WORTH IT. ALSO, I WANTED TO PUT IN THE TITULAR SYPHILIS.

I'M MAKING A GAME ABOUT CHURCHILL SO THAT YOU UNDERSTAND THESE THINGS ARE COMPLICATED. I'M GIVING YOU THE SPACE TO CHOOSE YOUR STANCE SO THAT YOU CAN SEE THE FULL PICTURE.

I'M MAKING A GAME THAT'S NOT AFRAID AND YOU'RE GOING TO PLAY IT.

- @murthynikhil

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