Saturday, 11 April 2009

Gaming Political Climate: Freedom!

Recently I learned of a game called Freedom! by MECC, the company that brought us Oregon Trail and other edutainment titles, that was pulled from the shelves due to controversy. What exactly was the controversy? Well Freedom is a game where you play a slave during a time when slavery was still in America trying to reach the North via the Underground railroad network.

One of the features in the game for example is where you might choose to play an illiterate slave where signs are simply unreadable and require deciphering. Also there is possibility of dying in the game being caught by dogs. It was pulled from shelves for being racially offensive amongst other things.

Reading an old article from Atari Magazines, one gets the feeling that the game itself is far from racially offensive and rather is trying to accurately as possible portray the historical situation. Having played previous games by MECC such as Amazon Trail and Oregon Trail I have no doubt the game contents would have been throughly researched before being included and that any implied racism is in fact part of the 'authenticity' of the game itself.

Unfortunately it's hard to find a copy so fingers cross I can locate a source for it and perhaps review it for myself.

One thing that really bugs me is if it was say a book or film, would it have been pulled from the shelves? And what if it had been released now? I think this is a clear indication of the double standard that is applied to games when comapared to 'traditional' media.

1 comment:

  1. Played the game in computer class back in the 5th grade. I remember the most jacked up thing was that the game was simply impossible. No matter what I man carrying a lantern and leashing two dogs would get you. I also remember before you tried to escape an old man with really big blue lips would give you cornbread. We played the game for a few weeks and then it disappeared. Even being a 5th grader there seemed to be something odd with the game but I couldn't put my finger on it.