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State of Play: Games with an Agenda

22 March 2005 - 8 June 2005
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Escape from Woomera Escape from Woomera Team

We all know that videogames are fun but can they make you think?

The works in State of Play use videogames to engage audiences with a series of issues. They do this in a variety of ways aiming to inform, connect, question and reflect, but all with a focus on how gameplay may be used to achieve these ends.

As befits the status of a lab, the works in State of Play are the first iterations of a new genre. They have been selected as a survey of games that focus directly on political issues. The intention of State of Play is not to address the ideologies of individual works, but to examine how they are constructed using the interactive interface of games, as platforms for cultural criticism and discussion.

The games displayed do not resemble the big budget commercial games of the entertainment industry but rather they are taking games to a different place. They ask interesting questions about what the future of games might be and if games like film and television will be able to have a "serious" purpose beyond entertainment.

Programmed by Helen Stuckey

curatorial statement

Please note: Opinions expressed in all games are those of the artist/s

thumbnail for september 12   september 12
Designed to make people think critically about the USA's strategy on terrorism, September 12 is dedicated to the proposition that violence generates more violence.
thumbnail for september 12 madrid
Keep the candles burning in this online memorial for the 11 March 2004 train bombings in Madrid. The traditional gesture of lighting a candle expresses both the fragility of life and the light of hope.
thumbnail for september 12 kabul kaboom
This anti-war game is modeled on the classic arcade format of Space Invaders. Impossible to win, Kabul Kaboom embodies the lose-lose situation of civilians in modern warfare.
thumbnail for september 12 cambiemos (let's change)
'Cambiemos' is Spanish for 'Let's Change', the campaign theme of the left wing coalition party Frente Amplio (Broad Front) in the 2004 Uruguayan presidential election.
thumbnail for september 12 howard dean for america
Produced for Dean's 2004 US Iowa pre-caucus campaign, this game was designed to teach grassroots campaign skills to his supporters and is credited with introducing video games in US political campaigning.
thumbnail for september 12 kuma\war mission 24: john kerry's silver star
You play 2004 USA Presidential Candidate John Kerry on his Silver Star mission on the Swift Boats of the Vietnam War. A game that was produced when Kerry's Vietnam service became an election issue.
thumbnail for september 12 escape from woomera
Experience a detention centre from the inside in this hybrid documentary-3D adventure game, designed to fill in the blanks created by the media lock-out from the most secretive and controversial places on the Australian political landscape.
thumbnail for september 12 real lives
Explore the consequences of life's choices in different cultures and under different political systems. The simple text interface of Real Lives vividly conjures the complex outcomes of personal decisions.
thumbnail for september 12 horde of directors
Horde of Directors explores the incestuous interconnections between corporate and government power. You play a social activist who is trying to directly influence the board of a real corporation.
thumbnail for september 12 they rule
Graphically explore the web of connections between the individuals serving on boards of the USA's top 500 companies. Make your own map of annotated connections or comment on those of others.
thumbnail for september 12 la migra
La Migra puts the player in control of a US immigration enforcement vehicle, from which they maintain an ever present vigil over their assigned stretch of the border.
thumbnail for september 12 crosser
Crosser puts the player in the position of attempting to cross the Rio Grande (il)legally from Mexico into the United States. The path is obstructed by Border Patrol agents who arrive with uncompromising regularity.
thumbnail for september 12 donkey john
Donkey John (John Howard) is laying claim to East Timor's oil resources! Guide Xanana Gus-mario (Xanana Gusmao) up the oilrig, jumping the stolen barrels of oil and activate the International Crane of Justice to bring greedy Donkey John down.
thumbnail for september 12 the bushgame
The most fun you'll ever have engaging with a critique of the Bush government's taxation laws! Created as personal pop propaganda in the lead-up to the 2004 USA election, The Bushgame pays tribute to the conventions of arcade games.
thumbnail for september 12 waco resurrection
In Waco Resurrection you must defend the 1993 Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. Enemies include skeptical civilians and government agents in a complex artwork that explores the borders between video game culture and real life.
thumbnail for september 12 take back illinois
A series of four games, commissioned by Tom Cross and the Illinois House Republican Organization in the US, that deal with four key issues facing Illinois voters in the 2004 state legislative election.

Games Lab
Tuesday 22 March 2005 - Wednesday 8 June 2005

Weekdays 10am to 5pm
Sat - Sun & Public Holidays 10am to 6pm

Admission Free
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