the westport independent

The Westport Independent does*** ***** understand censorship

The Westport Independent is a game about journalism. And so, in the interests of good journalism, a full disclosure is in order: I was employed as an editor at a newspaper company in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post Group, from 2012-2015. This is important because The Westport Independent is, specifically, a game about the self-censoring of journalism. And the South China Morning Post is a frequent target for accusations of self-censorship due to pressure from the Chinese Communist Party. I’ve seen self-censorship happen and I’ve seen it been falsely accused. Point is, I know it when I see…


The Charlie Hebdo debate arrives in the videogame world

You’re not against free speech, are you? This interpretive trap awaits anyone attempting to publicly wrangle the legacy of Charlie Hebdo. In late April, the PEN American Center announced that its literary gala would honor the French satirical newspaper. In response, a series of authors including Junot Díaz and Joyce Carol Oates penned a letter arguing that PEN missed the distinction between “staunchly supporting expression that violates the acceptable, and enthusiastically rewarding such expression.” This furore goes back to January 7th, when two gunmen open fired in Charlie Hebdo’s office. Twelve people died in the attack. A further eleven were…


Westport Independent’s latest trailer hints at the corruptability of media

“By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise.” –Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf The Westport Independent, a censorship simulator about the power of press, recently got a new trailer that crackles with the corruption of old timey propaganda. An announcer boasts of the Loyalist government’s soaring successes, spreading happiness to all “civilized” citizens of Westport. But by the end, the film implodes on itself, the simplistic world its propaganda spins going up in smoke along with it. The game casts you as the editor of…


Big Pharma combines pretty pastel color scheme with withering cynicism

British Developer Twice Encircled has announced Big Pharma, a game which puts you in the deeply conflicted shoes of a c-level suit at a pharmaceutical conglomerate. It follows the Tycoon playbook: soft, twee visual design over top a game of space and resource management. As in the canonical Kairosoft and Tycoon games, you’ll tirelessly work to minimize some numbers and maximize others, tweaking an optimal profit with nary a thought to the souls you employ. Big Pharma, obviously, takes it one step further: you’re not building railroads or videogames here but pills, which might cure diseases, make people happier, or give them back…