Game Review: We Become What We Behold
Our insatiable appetite for violence and drama is perfectly captured in a five-minute browser based game that points a lens towards the news-cycle feedback loop and asks us to consider our role in what the media presents to us.
I thought I'd start 2017's posts with a review of a game that's very pertinent to where we are now and where we may be going. It's by Nicky Case, the developer behind :the game: and its sequels
and Coming Out Simulator 2014
We Become What We Behold
is a brutal exploration of our violent, combative culture in which conflict is what dominates the news and then powers our responses, all of which is documented via social-media outrage. The stories spin through the news cycle in infinite, escalating loops as violence, conflict, and confrontation feed off each other and then feed the audience, which demands more and more of the same.
Your task in the game is to act as a photographer who points and clicks to capture something interesting for the latest news cycle, which is then displayed on the community TV in the middle of the screen as a news story. The photograph has a social-media ticker that indicates whether the captured subject is newsworthy. If it is then what it depicts will influence characters in the scene during the news cycle and the community's culture will begin to transform accordingly. If it isn't then people will ignore it and nothing will change.
Unfortunately you soon discover that conflict is what captivates the community and you are then forced to find and photograph more and more such stories, which causes the conflict to escalate as its documentation has an effect on the characters watching the community TV.
And so the feedback loop continues.
This is a five-minute game, although I'd recommend playing it more than once as there are items you can photograph (usually not suited to the news cycle's appetite) that you may not think to capture or may miss. Once you've had a play through it's also worth going back for another run to give yourself a moment to contemplate the roles that the media and its audiences play in causing the current cultural climate in which we find ourselves.
The end of We Become What We Behold
is tinged with hope however and I would recommend reading Nicky Case's post mortem
of the game after you've played it as it will help you think in a more positive way about what we will be facing this year, globally.
We become what we behold. We have created what we have - and now it's up to us to change it for the better.
We Become What We Behold is free to play online
On The Internet
We Become What We Behold: Official Site
, Source Code