Tuesday 7 February, 2012
I've never played a documentary game before and had no idea what to expect. I watch documentaries sometimes and I know what I like about them. They make me think about what I already know, they teach me something I didn't know, or make me question something I thought I knew. And of course they make me want to go learn more or question more about whatever it is that it is presenting to me.
So it is with The Cat and the Coup. It effectively did what a good documentary should do, except I got to interact with Mossadegh via his cat, which is a neat way of connecting the player to the historical figure. It made me want to go look up more about Mossadegh and the 1953 coup because he intrigued me in the game. He looked like an old, tired, beaten down man, and I, as the cat, was knocking things over, scratching him, and so on, making him do things. I got the sense that maybe this man faced a lot of pressure, or was made to do things he didn't want to do, pushed around, and that somehow he was caught up in events larger than himself where he lacked control and perhaps was taken advantage of. I got all this from the game because I admit to knowing very little about this coup or the man.
I find it incredible that I read all this into the game. There are a lot of background paintings and statues and symbols and references that I didn't recognize but I figure must be significant somehow. The game is interesting because you don't get time to stop and look too closely at this stuff and think about what it might mean. The cat falls past most of it, and then at the end, you go back "up" the screen and get a better look with a little explanation at some of this symbolism.
I said that the game did what any good documentary should do. It presented me with some new factoids that I immediately took online. I read the wikipedia pages of the 1953 coup and some of Mossadegh and filled in more of the story the game was trying to tell. Now, 45 minutes later, I feel like I've learned a lot about Iranian history, US imperialism, the current state of affairs between Iran and the West, religious fundamentalism in the country, the CIA, etc etc etc. And I'd like to go learn more.
Neat game, free through Steam, worth 15 minutes of your life. Definitely going to tell people about this. If a game can be a documentary, what else can a game be? What other documentaries can be made? Neat implications for games and spreading information.