Satire is an artistic form that has been a part of theatre, literature and film for centuries, using irony and implication as tools to exaggerate, deconstruct, and highlight specific behaviours for mockery (LaBoeuf 2007; Plevriti 2014).
Often mistaken for parody, satire does not elicit laughter as an end in the same way other forms of comedy do. Rather, it uses laughter as a means to expose the hypocrisy embedded within political and societal processes with the intent to inspire social change. The humorous aspect of satire is ‘weaponised’ for the purpose of attacking cultural norms and beliefs that the creator considers to be dangerous or immoral (Colletta, 2009).
On the other hand, computer games have been developing as a form of artistic expression, now ingrained in modern culture and expressive of the culture in which each game was produced (Ngai, 2005).
The medium is still new and evolving, with a greater emphasis on shifting towards more mature demographics (Ngai, 2005). However, there are still few games that attempt to directly tackle political topics, particularly through the lens of satire.
In this paper, we will look into the potential for computer games to use satire inconjunction with elements of game design, such as gameplay, mechanics, aesthetics and narrative, to communicate political themes. We aim to see how humorous game design is capable of critiquing political systems and inspiring change.
All the while, we will analyse whether the medium of games is able to build upon thefoundations of political satire laid out by previous forms of art, such as theatre, literature, film and television.
Paper-based research will be conducted for a literature review before a game concept prototype is designed and developed for the purpose of playtesting. Participant playtesters will be observed and interviewed, with their results serving as the basis for our findings and conclusion.
I would like to thank my supervisors, Sarah Wiseman and Federico Fasce, for all their guidance and the ways they have kept me inspired throughout this project.
A huge debt of gratitude must be paid to the participants who volunteered their time to playtest my game prototype and answer questions around politics, satire and games.
Thank you to the lecturers who have taught me so many valuable skills during my time at Goldsmiths University of London. You have truly opened my mind to the possibilities of games as artistic forms of expression.
Finally, a thank you to my partner, Kelly, and my family for supporting me through what has been the biggest and most intense project I have undertaken so far.
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