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This videogame about the Israeli–Palestinian conflict makes peace uncomfortably achievable

I solved the Israeli-Palestinian situation over the weekend, and the experience didn’t fill me with hope for the future. Let’s backtrack a little: Benjamin Netanyahu is still Israel’s prime minister, Palestinian statehood is still far from a reality, and international pressure or support for any just outcome is lukewarm at best. All of which is to say, my solution could only exist in a fictional universe. And so it does—I was playing ImpactGames’ PeaceMaker: Israeli Palestinian Conflict, which was recently updated for iOS and Android. PeaceMaker tries to play down its fictional side. It is very much of this world,…

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INFRA asks what you’d do to stop an urban crisis

In the face of professional pressures, the profit motive, and a basic desire to survive, what can average citizens expect of the poor souls who inspect public infrastructure? This unfortunately timely question is at the heart of Loiste Interactive’s INFRA, which is out now for Windows. You play as an engineer tasked with examining the structures in the city of Stalburg. You are competent though not exceptionally motivated. This is a job, not a crusade. While carrying out your professional duties, however, there are some things you can’t help but notice. Namely, the whole city’s going to shit. Structures are…

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If only Congress worked more like this game

A new teaser for Netflix’s House of Cards plays like a highlight reel of protagonist Frank Underwood’s most heinous exploits. As the show prepares to drag itself into a fourth season this March, it’s worth remembering not just how villainous Frank’s rise to power was, but also how ludicrously easy. The political journalist David Weigel once criticized the show for never exacting its proper pound of flesh in exchange for letting Frank succeed. It was as if every adversary was forced to confront him with one arm tied behind their back. As Weigal wrote, “Underwood’s enemies don’t seem to understand…

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North Korea isn’t playing

North Korea dropped a bomb. “It was confirmed that the H-bomb test, conducted in a safe and perfect manner, had no adverse impact on the ecological environment,” Pyongyang announced, by way of the Korean Central News Agency. “The initial analysis is not consistent with the claim the regime has made of a successful hydrogen bomb test.” Even if it’s not the “H-bomb of justice” the KCNA makes it out to be, we must now talk about the bomb—including the Security Council, which will discuss further sanctions—and that’s the point. When your foreign policy is also a content strategy, it barely…

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Kommissar is an adventure through the language of despotism

It’s about the language. It’s always about the language. Kommissar is a text adventure masquerading as a thriller—and that’s a good thing. You play as an officer in the Ministry of Truth. This is a plum job seeing as it went to you, a child of the elite, and not some pleb. Suffice it to say this is not an equal society. To the winner goes the spoils, and you are spoilt with spoils. One of those spoils is the power to issue warrants. And do you ever issue warrants, directing investigatory efforts and powers of detentions to various quadrants…

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It’s okay. Lego was never your friend anyway

Corporations are not your friends. Case in point: Lego recently refused to ship a bulk order to artist Ai Weiwei citing a longstanding policy of not directly providing pieces to those who seek to make political statements. Ai took to Instagram to declare: “Lego’s refusal to sell its product to the artist is an act of censorship and discrimination.” The more charitable interpretation of Lego’s actions, most eloquently voiced by Jay Ong, is that Lego wasn’t meaningfully restricting Ai’s freedom to make art since there are plenty of other places to buy in bulk. No matter how you look at…

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Here is the old Bernie Sanders videogame that we aren’t ready to forget

Melancholia is meant to be seen on the largest screen possible. Reruns of Law and Order SVU are meant to be seen on your laptop. Puppy gifs are meant to be seen on your phone. (OK, that’s a lie. Puppy gifs are meant to be seen anywhere and everywhere.) From each according to its content, to each according to its screen.  a sentient dad joke who can play his part in memes  The optimal context for Bernie Sanders’ content is the Internet Archive’s “Way Back Machine,” a digital place in which everything takes on the quality of recent history. By virtue…

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Riot – Civil Unrest might be coming to a town near you

I first covered Riot — Civil Unrest in the midst of the protests in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray. It’s always the midst of something. The news cycle leaves injustices behind with alarming regularity, but it never lacks for new sadness to glom on to. There’s no comfort in such predictability, just exhaustion, which is how I came to feel about Riot — Civil Unrest. It captured the sensation that unrest is everywhere. Well, it almost did. Riot — Civil Unrest’s action will take place in Italy, Greece, Spain, and Egypt, four countries with plenty of strife, but…