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Everybody Dies September 21, 2006

Posted by joshg in indie games, morality & ethics.

Introversion Software, makers of the game Darwinia (which I’ve blogged about before), are about to release their newest game, DEFCON. You can find out more at the game’s website, http://www.everybody-dies.com.*

Inspired by the 1983 cult classic film, Wargames, DEFCON superbly evokes the tension, paranoia and suspicion of the Cold War era, playing on the fascinating aspects of psychological gameplay that occur during strategic nuclear warfare.

I’ve already preordered this one via Steam (hey, $5 off the $15 price if you preorder). It hooked me in pretty much instantly; the premise is excellent, the visual style is fantastic, the gameplay sounds like a lot of fun, and the trailer has just the right combination of hype, dry sarcasm, and disturbing imagery reminiscent of Cold War era propaganda.

DEFCON also brings to light some serious ethical questions, and I think Introversion makes it clear that they’re being deliberate in dragging these questions out into the open. The Steam forums for DEFCON have already had people asking questions like, is it right to play a game where your goal is to decimate your enemy’s civilian populations while hopefully only most of your civilians die in the process? Is this game, despite being a military simulation, giving an anti-war message?  Who has these nukes in real life, anyway, and can we trust them with such a horrific power?

There are nine more days to go before I can let you know how the game itself answers the questions it raises.  It’s fantastic to see a game come around that’s able to confront people with this kind of Hard Problem, and look to be a blast to play despite (or because of) it.

* Yes, I linked it twice, because an URL that awesome deserves to be emphasized.



1. Nate - September 21, 2006

Yay Darwinia!

I’ll be buying this, I think, just for nostalgia value. As long as it works on Linux like Darwinia did, and doesn’t require Steam which I don’t have.

2. joshg - September 21, 2006

Steam definitely isn’t a requirement. You can buy a boxed copy of the game through the everybody-dies.com site.

3. joshg - September 29, 2006

Here’s a good resource on nuclear weapons in the US today:

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