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Peace, Love and Understanding – Zero Coverage

June 12th, 2006 by Troy Goodfellow · 2 Comments · Uncategorized

This month’s CGM has my review of Breakaway Games new “serious game” A Force More Powerful. And so far, it is the only review of this title.

This has nothing to do with me. I was curious about the title, but was waiting on requesting a review copy until my desk cleared of other stuff. My editor pre-empted me by asking if I would write it, so there I was. And, if you are familiar with the magazine, it even gets one of those gray backgrounds that make it look special. (I use the “give peace a chance” line twice because…I’m an idiot, I guess.)

The game itself is good. Not great. It has some repetitive bits, and I think succeeds more as a management sim than as the edutainment title it pledges to be. But it is undoubtedly a game – a strategy game even. It’s just one with an overt message.

The lack of mainstream gaming press coverage of this, admittedly marginal, game is a little disappointing. I know that “serious games” are usually outside the bailliwick of the gaming press, but I think that A Force More Powerful is actually something special in spite of all its faults.

A Force More Powerful works as a game because it takes its message completely for granted. There is never an option for your movement to escalate to violent action. Usually constraint of action is a bad thing in a game; you want to give players lots of options. But this overarching constraint doesn’t limit all the peaceful actions available to you. Do you rally the troops this time or call a press conference? Does Susie need more training? Is getting that newspaper out more important than passing out pamphlets in the boonies? These are make or break decisions.

And there is no single way to win a scenario. The government response to your action may vary from game to game, and you might have assets available to you at a crucial time this session that were lacking in the previous session.

I won’t re-review the game – I have misgivings that were given ample airing in CGM. And you should buy the magazine anyway. (Not for me, mind you. Do it for the children.) But I would like more people to give AFMP a look. It looks ancient, but plays out today’s headlines and reinforces an important point that all us bloodthirsty strategy and wargamers should be reminded of from time to time.

King and Gandhi remade the world without firing a shot.


2 Comments so far ↓

  • oldciver

    I posted something about this on ‘poly, and got some responses about this being “neocon propaganda”

    Sounds interesting to me, Id like to check out how the specs and how I get it.

    Id like to think games can certainly teach about non-violent approaches to political change.

    I note Breakaway games worked with Firaxis on the SMA, and published the napoleonic sequels, so theyre no strangers to traditional strategy gaming.

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