Bomb The Man

            For our gaming assignment, our group was given the game, “Bomberman”. The issue that we chose covered the topic of power and democracy, and focuses on the scenario that the government has passed a law that makes protest illegal. We thought this could flow naturally within the game, given the fact that bombs can easily represent violence and police/rebellion conflict within a city environment. We wanted to illustrate the importance of freedom of protest and speech, and justice for the oppressed.

            The player controls the “monsters” who represent the protestors within a totalitarian regime. The “Bomberman” then becomes a representation of the police who are trying to bomb the protestors into submission. The goal of the game as a protestor is to attempt to make the police bomb their own institutions, comprising of a bank (moneybag icon), a police station (police car), and a courthouse (door icon). Destroying these icons represents protestors changing systems of government by destroying the current hegemonic structure.

            Level one starts out with one of each of these institutions (total of three). The police follow the player around in a constant attempt to bomb them and end their rebellion, so the player must evade the police while also tricking them into placing a bomb near enough to one of their institutions that it will be destroyed. The player moves onto the next level when she or he is successful in destroying all institutions. Each level rises in difficulty with an exponential increase both in institutions and police the further the player gets into the game. The player will lose the game if she or he fails to evade a bomb and gets blown up.

            Our group decided to make the game infinite, with each level adding in difficulty until the player gets tired or loses. We did this because we wanted to address the difficulty in changing societal institutions and systems of government; the harder one fights, the more one realizes how hopeless that fight feels against the power of a hegemonic society. Our goal was to create that sense of frustration by making it so the player could never truly “win”.

            This game could be both single player and multiplayer. Multiplayer mode has the same rules, and would only add more “protestors” working together to help the cause of overthrowing corrupt systems of power. 

-Katie Morris


6 thoughts on “Bomb The Man

  1. I think this is a really cool concept and I really like the play on title. It is saying in a way that although people may not wield direct power (which is how democracy basically works) they can manipulate the system in their own way in order to incorporate change into our society. I think it’s great that you empower the common people through protest and rebellion but by making the game endless are you trying to make the statement that rebellion is ultimately pointless and will not lead to change? I understand the frustration factor that you’re trying to get across and I think it’s a powerful message on how difficult it is to change systems of power in our society.

  2. I like how you adapted the game to reverse the roles/concept of the game. The player now can make the people whose goal is to protect the people, the ones that end up destroying the people. One thing, however, that could be different is negating the role of bombs/violence to overthrow the totalitarian regime. The player could control a bomb diffuser who has to stop the bombs the police are throwing toward the protestors. The goal would then be to keep diffusing bombs until the protesters have completed their protest, exposing the flaws of the regime to the people. Also as in your mod the bleakness/oppression of the police against the protestors could be conveyed with infinite levels.

    -Adam Dziesinski

  3. I really like the concept of this mod. The idea that through trying to silence the people, the government ends up destroying its own institutions is brilliant. However, I have to agree with huyducpham that the game would be better with an ending. Without an ending your mod raises awareness, but the message it ultimately sends is that if the government tries to censor you, you should just give up because there is nothing you can do about it.
    What I would do instead of leaving the game without an ending is to make it so that the government has a specified total amount of money. Each institution destroyed will cost the government “X” amount of money to rebuild, so by the time you get to the final level you will have cost the government so much money that it will be unable to continue paying the police to try to bomb the protestors. But the government would have to have an unholy amount of money, so that while it seems like the game is infinite, it would just be the longest game in history. The ending could be similar to the “kill screens” of the old arcade games, which is when a game would crash and reset, often due to a player’s score (or progress) getting so high that the game’s code could no longer handle it. The old games were thought and meant to seem infinite because the programmers didn’t think anyone would play the game long enough to reach that high of a score, or get that far into a game.

  4. I think we made the game endless due to the immense amount of time it takes to change established hierarchies. Protestors can spend years and years fighting for change, but without visibility it often leads nowhere. Even visibility doesn’t guarantee any progress toward a solution.

    I guess we could create a win condition to instill a slightly more positive message. According to youtube user nenriki86, the original NES Bomberman contains

    “bonus items that are very difficult to come upon, each more difficult than the last. Only one particular bonus item is available to you on each stage. You not only need to know how to make each bonus item appear, you also need to know which bonus item it is that you are attempting to trigger, making them nearly impossible to find without advanced knowledge.”

    We could have these bonus items represent pieces of information vital to the stability of an established order. They would be ‘smoking guns’ of sorts, which the player would have to find a way to expose and collect before they are destroyed. If/when the player successfully obtains the whole lot of them, victory is achieved. Of course this task is extremely difficult and would require much time to be spent, but I think this would help highlight the difficulty in changing established institutions.

  5. Your ending point was powerful! It’s a bold move to make the game run on infinite loop, as I agree that it does add to player frustration. I don’t think it’s necessary to add an ending in order to prove a point as our classmates above suggest, but I am concerned on how each level rises in difficulty if there will be no finite end block. It seems to me that the difficulty factor increases exponentially based on an algorithm, but what if a player were to continue playing for unprecedented amounts of time? Are the game levels designed to withstand that much difficulty? All in all, very clever spin on the existing game, with a powerful message and new game title!

  6. The infinite loop here also suggests that we will (or perhaps should) never reach an end point to achieving justice. Will there always be people who manipulate the system to their own ends? Will even “just” systems ultimately turn corrupt and need to be corrected again? At the simplest level, is there always room for improvement?

    One comment I would like to make is the ethics of using violence to achieve these ends. Video games generally ask us to perform violent acts, so it is a norm to which we are accustomed. Even the kosmosis game that we played by Molleindustria uses a violent metaphor to think about breaking up hegemony. Is there another way we can imagine this?

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