Have Browser Games Taken Over the Role of Politicial Cartoons?

December 19, 2008 -

On Sunday, an Iraqi journalist hurled his shoes at President Bush during a press conference.

Within days, nearly a half-dozen Flash games lampooning the incident appeared on the web (you'll find all of them linked here on GamePolitics).

Given the speed and reach of the web, the Amazon Game Room Blog wonders whether browser games have replaced the role of the political cartoon in modern society:

Web-based flash games continue to take over the satirical role that political cartoons once filled... Our country has a rich and scathing history of political satire in cartoon form in newspapers and magazines and anyone who noticed how fast the [various Bush/shoe games] popped up on the Web after the footwear was flung... should be able to acknowledge the potential for this in flash technology.

 

The games are certainly is no works of art, but they were not designed to be awe inspiring. They were instead designed to capture the moment, and immortalize it from a particular point of view that people in this particular time can appreciate, or at least recognize. In a hundred years... these snippets of code will offer a window into the past... it is all just part of a media continuum that stretches forward and back further than we know.


Comments

Re: Have Browser Games Taken Over the Role of Politicial

The front page of a recent Chicago newspaper shows a large cartoon Rod Blagojevich on the podium, getting attacked by a barrage of shoes. I think it shows a good example of two recent political memes colliding.

Re: Have Browser Games Taken Over the Role of Politicial

I'd say the likelyhood of mini-games overtaking political cartoon as a form of satire are pretty high. Not because the mini-games themselves are better, but because the primary format for the political cartoon - the newspaper - is a dying breed.

The Honest Game - http://www.thehonestgame.org

The Honest Game - http://www.thehonestgame.org

Re: Have Browser Games Taken Over the Role of Politicial

Political cartoons are dieing as big media weeds them out due to nto wanting to offend anyone..namely thier backers...
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Re: Have Browser Games Taken Over the Role of Politicial

These flash games have some potential, but we should wait until that potential either falls flat or is fully realized before pitting a flash game against a well-done political cartoon.

Anyway, I think there will always be room for politicial cartoons. Flash games may not be meant to be an intelligent commentary. I think that they fill another need: the need to sometimes laugh at something ridiculous or trivialize something serious. The event falls into the former category. Or just the need to have a distraction from the normally pessimistic and dramatic news, but in a way that everyone can get the message. I think that final point is the appeal of flash games, to be honest.

Re: Have Browser Games Taken Over the Role of Politicial

Zachary Knight has it right. Political cartoons are critical, clever, and comment on the situations they depict. 

These games instead should be called tabloid games. They simply point to an event to exploit it. It's a valid, if all to common, mode of discourse in today's culture. There is nothing "rich and scathing" about the pointless shoe throwing games we've seen in the past week, nor many other examples I've tracked over the past few years (Zidane head butt, Paris Hilton in jail, etc.)

Incidentally, Gonzalo Frasca and myself have been carrying the torch of games as political cartoons for years now; the challenge of making rapid, meaningful games that get published in a news context is rough going.

Ian Bogost 

Re: Have Browser Games Taken Over the Role of Politicial

While the current crop of flash game is not quite ready to replace the role of political cartoon, I think at in a decade or two, they will. For one, news outlets are increasingly moving online where these games have a home. More news outlets will recognize that the rising generation will be more motivated to come to the site by games than a comic. Two, the people designing these games will become more mature and better able to convey the message they want in the game. These games have the possibility to be more expressive than their passive single frame counterpart.

So far in this instance the only one I can think of that actually has a message of sorts is the one where you play a Secret Service agent trying to stop shoes. The message wasn't very good or clear, but it was the only one that had a syblance of a mesage.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
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Re: Have Browser Games Taken Over the Role of Politicial

These flash games may parallel political cartoons in that they capture a moment of public attention in a preservable format, but I'm not seeing any "satire" in the shoe games I've seen thus far. The only message evident is "lol throw a shoe at Bush." Cartoons offer (some of them anyway) a measure of actual commentary on what we're talking about, not just a snapshot of what we were forwarding to our friends.

Do Not Talk About Feitclub http://www.feitclub.com

Do Not Talk About Feitclub http://www.feitclub.com

Re: Have Browser Games Taken Over the Role of Politicial

Join political cartoons in satire?  Maybe.  Replace them?  God, I hope not.  Most flash games are pretty lame and aren't particularlly witty or deep.  On the other hand, the genre of political comics has become something artful, and are even sometimes profound.  I mean, it'd be one thing if the flash games included satirical dialog of some sort about issues and relevances.  As it is, they're just shoes flying across the screen at a dopey looking target.

 
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