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Now you can play Winston Churchill’s card game too

If Churchill Solitaire existed in smell-o-vision, it would reek of cigar smoke. Seeing as the game only exists on iOS, however, identifying the precise stench it gives off is something of a challenge. The game, which was developed by WSC Software and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, is based on a card game Winston Churchill supposedly played during World War II. This connection is played up at every turn. The game opens with archival footage of the war with one of the British Prime Minister’s famous speeches playing in the background. The levels a player can progress through in…

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The tricky legal problem of videogames depicting historical figures

Games that seek to represent significant historical phenomena are, by their very nature, reductive. Real-time gameplay is, Timebound’s multi-year push notifications notwithstanding, not on the table. Beyond the time imperative, creative works must also make narrative and dramatic choices. These constraints are in no way exclusive to games; the process of making media necessarily involves making artistic and practical choices. Up to a point, that’s fine. In fact, it’s desirable. But what recourse is there when these choices are disputed? Three children of the Angolan “rebel” leader Joseph Savimbi recently announced that they were suing Activision Blizzard’s French subsidiary for the…

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Soviet City will turn urban planning into terror control

City building games are rarely exercises in democracy. The player’s agency stems from her role as a central planner; she designs cities that hopefully please their residents, but this is not a consultative, bottom-up process. Considerate urban planning in the city-building game is an act of benevolent dictatorship. Soviet City, a forthcoming strategy game for PC, takes this association between city builders and central planning to its logical extension. Instead of being set in the deracinated utopia of most city builders, the game is set in soviet Russia, a place that may have wanted to be seen as a utopia…

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This Morse code game relives the 1914 Christmas truce

‘Tis the season for Christmas music to blare from every direction. They come from speakers, carolers, and buskers. They are played in stores and putative public spaces. As a side effect of this sonorous onslaught, ostensibly cheerful songs become backing tracks to breakups and calls announcing the sickness of loved ones. Omnipresent holiday cheer, as social networks have previously learned, cannot coexist with sensitivity to personal context. Relay, a game created by Jon Reid for the 34th Ludum Dare games jam, uses this incongruity to make a historical point. Set in December of 1914, the game juxtaposes a light, instrumental…

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Why Fallout 4’s 1950s satire falls flat

War may never change, but Kill Screen does. Back our Kickstarter to help support our print relaunch! Fallout 4 takes us back. Back to the beginning. Back before the bombs fell, and before the world of the Fallout series took on its mutated, feral, apocalyptic form. But what did that world look like? The Fallout series has, since its inception, hinted at a world before nuclear annihilation that resembled, in its culture and its design, the 1950s, rather than the 2070s, which is the decade in which Fallout’s “Great War,” a two-hour series of nuclear blasts that decimated the planet,…

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Secret Hitler is mercifully not a joke

“Are you Hitler?” Note, dear reader, the use of quotation marks. Even though this is the internet, where people go to say such things, I do not believe that you are actually Hitler. Rather, that is an actual question that comes up with reasonable frequency in Max Temkin’s (co-creator of Cards Against Humanity) new tabletop game Secret Hitler. This is not the setup for a joke. Seriously. Secret Hitler takes placed in a simplified—though not stable—version of early 1930s Weimar Germany. The balance between liberals and fascists is delicate and consequently the future of Germany hangs in the balance. Players…

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The Dismal Western Front of The Grizzled

The First World War is often referred to as The Great War, due to its immense scope, as it incited all the world’s national powers and resulted in a devastating death toll. Set within this war is the tabletop game The Grizzled, which makes no attempt to capture such scale, and instead hones in on a small squad of French soldiers whose camaraderie is their greatest chance for survival. In this, The Grizzled prompts comparison to Erich Maria Remarque’s 1929 novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, which describes the war through a concise and emotional narrative. The story follows…

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Somber will explore post-WW2 chaos and cults in small-town Argentina

I need more historical games in my life that aren’t pure strategy games or Assassin’s Creed, so when I heard of Somber, a game set during the political turmoil of mid-50s small-town Argentina, I was immediately interested. That’s primarily because Somber isn’t a game directly about war, which seems like the only thing most historical games are interested in. It’s set in the years following World War 2, and uses the country of Argentina and its recent coup as the backdrop for a rather strange tale: as the residents of a small city called Dale, you and a few friends…