The acronym BRIC is derived from Jim O’Neill’s, Chairman of Goldman Sachs Global Assets Management, document entitled ‘Building Better Global Economic BRICS’. In this paper he explores the rapid socio-economic rise of: Brazil, Russia, India and China; all seemingly in competition to exert their regional dominance through trade and politics. It was from this hierarchy of international states that the idea to develop a game based on socio-economic gain came about. What remains a vital factor in winning the game is the necessary need for multilateral trade, as is with global situation. Although each BRIC nation is rich in its specific natural or social resource; becoming a highly advanced country is founded on a level of interdependence.
Each player will receive one of the four developing states card: Brazil, Russia, India or China detailing a specific key attribute e.g.: Brazil-Natural resources. At the beginning of the game each player will start with 200 points. The points received are used to negotiate trading resources needed in achieving infrastructure objectives. Once the required resources have been reached they are deposited into the bank, in return, the corresponding infrastructure piece is received. In developing this game out initial inspiration was drawn from the property-developing game Monopoly. Just as is with Monopoly there is the possibility to trade, bribe or manipulate a player(s) in order to obstruct the goal(s) of another. For example, should a player choose to over-price a commodity then other players have the opportunity to under-cut the market price. It was not until later in the module that it became apparent that our trading process strongly resembled Catan, in that trading natural resources was fundamental to reaching one’s objective. Where BRIC differs from Catan is in returning the resources back to their states after achieving the matching infrastructure piece.
As with Catan the mechanics of the game focus in trade; where the players exchange their natural resource for an agreed upon price. For every infrastructural improvement gained the state becomes stronger, an essential factor in order to protect themselves from chance cars. Upon understanding the basic mechanisms integral to BRIC very little play-testing was initially required. Nonetheless, it soon became apparent that the numerial aspect would prove difficult in over-coming. By limiting the number of points, natural resources and requirements for infrastructure objectives it simplified the mathematical process, by working within a defined boundary.
Reflective Analysis Essay
Introduction: Since antiquity, there has been a remarkable concept of entertainment and that is by playing games. This form of entertain can be found in children and even grown men, the aspect of both remain the same, fun. The importance of playing games as we know it from a very young age is an aspect of the idea of having fun. Not many of us know any more to a game rather than the element of a fun factor or a distraction from boredom and create entertainment. However, this is not the case for some who study the politics and structure of games. Different games are meant for different criteria and different genres. This essay will be looking at the politics and dynamics behind four different games and will compare and contrast from their design of playing to the different structures of each game. The four games that we will be looking at are Monopoly, Red Guard, War on Terror and last but not least Settlers of Catan. Furthermore, this essay will establish the positive and negative attributes of each of the above mentioned game and how effective are the game dynamics, keeping in mind the strengths and weaknesses of these games. This essay will be divided into four parts. Each part will talk about at a different game and look at the dynamics, strengths, weaknesses and what can be improved about the game along with other factors. Firstly, we will discuss the game of Monopoly, after that War on terror, thirdly, Red Guard and lastly Settlers of Catan. There is more to games than just playing them. A concept of MDA which stands for Mechanics, Dynamics, and Aesthetics and this helps in narrow the gap between the development of the game to the game design and game criticism. This methodology assists in decomposing, studying and designing a game and focus on the dynamics and mechanics of the game (Church 1999).
Monopoly was a game published by Parker Brothers and a subsidiary of Hasbro designed in 1935, based on a game known as ‘The Landlords Game’. It is a game which is easy to play with development for over 30 years. (Moore 2004). The concept of the game is an economic model, whereas suggested in its name; the aim of the game is the domination of the board by a single individual. The game is dominated by increasingly wealthy player(s), who can then penalise the poorer players who then become poorer. Monopoly is very simple to understand as the game is quite clear and because the information on cards and board is simple it makes the game quite self-explanatory. However, there is room for strategic moves; the negative aspect of the game is based on the idea which includes luck in form of chance cards and rolling of the dice, which decreases the chances of a player winning based on strategy. The game is very social and includes the fun factor as it can also involve forming alliances with other players when it comes to auctioning or trading of cards which can be seen as a positive side to the game. The important factor to look at is that every player starts with the same amount of money and gets equal opportunity at the beginning of the game. However, the consequences of spending your money all at once into buying properties is harmful and may make you lose the game. This game also promotes consumerism. The game is a combination of abstraction and realism which can be seen throughout the game. The game is built on buying properties and acquiring wealth as you go along, and eventually building more on to the property in forms of houses and hotel, then trading property to monopolise certain areas and in the end the person with the most properties and wealth is termed as the winner. Where the realism falls into it, the aspect of getting bankrupt as you go along, in form of fines etc, and player lose or gain money. The abstraction of the game is the fact that it is not so easy to buy and trade property. Monopoly has a beginning and an end and it’s a race of getting the most amounts of properties without getting bankrupt. However enjoyable the game might be it includes key political lessons. Monopoly is based on the concept of capitalist society where money is everything and does not resemble a socialist society as much. It urges egoism and a race to get richer especially during the Cold War era and was identified as a capitalist game by both Russians and Americans. It warns people to be careful with their money as spending all of it may lead to bankruptcy. How it models a capitalist society is in terms of turning a free market economy into a monopoly where one player owns most of the board, resulting into other players being impecunious. Although Monopoly has been doing well ever since it got published, it faced severe criticism for encouraging capitalism, hence games such as Anti-Monopoly and Class Struggle were brought out as critiques of Monopoly, but unfortunately they didn’t do as well. Like Machiavelli's The capitalism. Monopoly is based on dice rolling, which concludes that it is based on luck, so it can be anyone’s game and strategy doesn’t come into much place which may mean that an experienced player can lose against a first time player. Although it may be obvious that a player is winning, the game will still continue in a race to still have the opportunity to win. All is all Monopoly is an all round fun and social game.
War on Terror:
The game War on Terror was published by Terrorbull games in 2006. The mechanics of the game run on the basis of achieving the most part of the board without having any terrorist attacks, and building a village, town or a city within their occupied area, controlling oil production and building cities to win the game (Siegel 2007). However, the game mechanics are not so simple to follow. There is too much information and too many pieces on the board making it a complicated game. The game is quite slow further on in the game, when each player has several moves to make. It is easier to turn into a terrorist than end the game on the winning side. The game however, is sociable and is fun to play. The ‘evil balaclava’ adds the fun element to the game. Although the game starts off slow at the beginning, it gets fun after a while. The techniques of the game are complicated and must be played with a player who has played before. Simplifying the rules and minimising the pieces on the board can improve the game. The game is based highly on abstraction and not meant to model a realist perspective. It is combination of a parody to terrorism and taking seriousness out of life. It is not a realist simulation of how the U.S government is in relation with the actual War on Terror. However, the use of blackmail by the terrorist side is realistic as Al Qaeda raises money from the Gulf States in this way. The War on Terror is good at showing how the imposition of security controls and the politics of fear are interlinked. It is too easy to become a terrorist in the game. The economic importance of oil in The War on Terror is more satirical than realistic. In 2011, this makes the game seem a bit dated. The value of the continents and the costs of crossing seas are unrealistic which betrays the game's origins as a remix of Risk. Although fun, the balaclava of evil and the spinner break up the realism of the game. In The War on Terror, players turn into terrorist through a lack of money even though Saudi terrorists like Bin Laden are very rich. This game questions the American ideology of the War on Terror rather than what's happening in the world today. The game is correct when it teaches its player that if you fund terrorist groups like Al Qaeda then they might act against you. It cannot be compared with the War on Terror today as it is meant to be a fun side of the global insecurity. The game needs to be simplified and less pieces should be placed on the board. It is a hard game for a beginner to understand however, the more you play it the games is enjoyable.
Red Guard is based on Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution in China. The game is quite informative and the game is based on the control of key Chinese sites while anxiously watching Chairman Mao's health. It is a game that informs its players about the Cultural Revolution in China and helps them be part of the whole era. Although the game is very sly to play, as you do not know which player has what targets to achieve. It is easier to form alliances and contribute to the fall of the weakest player by attacking the player over and over again. The negatives of the game however lie in the parts. They are too small and difficult to play with. The game mechanics is quite simple to understand and play. It is based slightly on luck and strategy which makes it a good mix to play, because each player has equal chances of winning. The only problem is the combats table, which can be a little confusing to begin with. There isn’t too much going on in the game to distract the players from the game. The cards in the game are quite informative in themselves, which makes it even easier to play. The game is built on simple mechanics of achieving the victory targets and attacking your opponents while trying to win the game. It is very easy to form alliances which can also help you not being attacked, if you are in alliance with a string player. It was unclear what were the differences between "purge" and "subvert" as forms of attack. The chaos chart created a good dynamic that meant players had to cut back on purges to avoid a civil war. The game is very sociable and enjoyable to play and because there is no time wasted in setting up, it a quick and easy game to learn which can be played anywhere. The disadvantage of playing first is that everyone is fully guarded which doesn’t give the first player a great big a deal of attacking, whereas the person who goes last has that advantage of attacking other players because they would not be that strong by the end. The game is based on abstraction, having different ministries, communes and factories represented on cards rather than on a board. The competition between the different factions was a bit like fighting an election, but it seemed a quite realistic simulation of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Players could feel victimized because people can gang up to attack them. Red Guard is a very political game as it tries to model the real Chinese Cultural Revolution. The formation of alliances meant that players could help each other into winning the game. Being an individual faction will not help in you winning the game as you could be attacked by anyone. Red Guard is a game based on Area-Impulse, Modular Board, Secret Unit Deployment and Simulation.
The Settlers of Catan:
The Settlers of Catan (Catan) was published by a German designer named Klaus Teuber in 1995. The game runs on simple mechanics of a board, dice and to the point pieces. The aim of the game is to achieve take over as much as possible of the board and build houses and towns. It was very easy to understand and was a game that was quick to pick up (Church 1999). The game dynamics are based on trading between different players. However, if you form an alliance, you can refuse to trade with other parties in order to achieve your own goals. The game was next to perfect because it didn’t waste much time in understanding the game. It’s easier to just play and get a grasp of the game as you go along. The only negative of Catan was the board; it was a little flimsy and kept going out of place. One of the key things that Catan must need is an umpire to maintain what goes on in the game and keep in check the trade, much like the banker in Monopoly. However other than that, the game didn’t have any drawbacks. The trading aspect keeps it sociable. The game is about founding a city state. You can use the Robber to hinder other people from winning. The Settlers of Catan models the necessity of trade. You play for yourself, but you have to cooperate with the other players. The opportunity to acquire cards with secret victory points is a good idea. The game is highly abstract and does not try to bring realism, however the trading aspect of the game is quite accurate. You can only compete in this game by co-operating with the other players. The Settlers of Catan teaches you to build alliances. The settlers of Catan was one of the most enjoyable games played as it was easy, fun and did not require too much luck apart from the dice rolling. The game is suitable for first time players to advanced players, and playing with strategic moves helps you to win the game.
Conclusion: Political gaming and simulation builds on knowledge into depth about a game and helps in comparing one game to another. There are different types of games all around, card games, board games, role plays, but they all have the end and finish point and at the game end the aim of the game is to ‘win’. Each game that was played needed participation, attentiveness and consideration of your next move. The best game for me was ‘The Settlers of Catan’ because it modelled the fun and sociable aspect of playing a game perfectly. Each game however has its own importance in its own way. Game designing and tuning is an important factor that separates one game from another. Bibliography:
• Church, D. (1999) Formal Abstract Design Tools. Game Developer, San Francisco, CA: CMP Media. Available online at: http://www.gamasutra.com/features/19990716/design_tools_01.htm. [Accessed on 28/03/2011]
• LeBlanc, M., ed. 2004a. .Game Design and Tuning Workshop Materials., Game Developers Conference 2004. Available online at: http://algorithmancy.8kindsoffun.com/GDC2004/ [Accessed on 28/03/2011]
• Moore, Tim (2004). Do Not Pass Go. Vintage Books. • Siegel, S.J. (2007) Off the Grid interviews Brian Reynolds of Big Huge Games Available at: http://www.joystiq.com/2007/02/22/off-the-grid-interviews-brian-reynolds- of-big-huge-games/ [Accessed on 03/04/2011]