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Commercial product placements in video games are now big business. But some developers are hitting back with ‘anti-advergames’. In Disaffected! (www.persuasivegames.com), you play a casualised worker in a Fedex Kinko photocopy store, while in the McDonald’s Video Game (www.mcvideogame.com) you must exploit underdeveloped countries and low-wage workers, and feed growth hormones to cattle. The McDonald’s game is one of a series by the Italian collective, Molleindustria (www.molleindustria.org), who make ‘political videogames against the dictatorship of entertainment’.
If you want to buy a game that takes on big business, try Red Faction (www.redfaction.com). You work on Mars in the mines of a multinational slave labour corporation called Ultor. A deadly plague as a result of a nano-technology experiment that went wrong sweeps through the workers colony, forcing you to rise up against Ultor and solve the mystery of the disease.
An older inter-galactic take on earthly politics, but still available second hand, is Abe’s Exoddus (www.oddworld.com). It is the story of an alien worker who discovers the corporation he works for actually sells his people as pies. So he sets about escaping and eventually finding out who ate all the pies.
The ultimate eco-friendly game is Ecco the Dolphin – a guilt free game for those of us who get a twinge every time we eat tuna. It’s a basic platform puzzle-solving adventure involving a very clever dolphin who’s never in any danger of getting caught up in a fisherman’s net. He utilises his sonar as well as the dolphin equivalent of sixth sense to solve a myriad of complicated problems, all the while educating us about the beauty of the unspoiled oceans and coral reefs.
The US has seen a proliferation of video games that seek either to gain revenge for 9/11 by hunting Arabs or to get back at those nasty gooks for Vietnam.
In Delta Force (www.novalogic.com), you are a gung-ho US special forces soldier shooting Somalis, Ay-rabs, Eye-ranians and Chechens from your Apache helicopter. Quest for Al-Qa’eda — The Hunt for Bin Laden (www.dosgamesarchive.com/download/game/164) does pretty much what it says, with the addition that you have to overcome Pakistani double agents at every turn.
Full Spectrum Warrior (www.fullspectrumwarrior.com) is actually based on US army training simulations. Set in the Middle East, you can blast away to your heart’s content without any chance of picking up Gulf War syndrome or other nasties from the depleted uranium. This realistic game was used as evidence in the court case about Abu Ghraib and has led to massive debates about video gaming and violence.
Then, finally, there’s America’s Army (www.americasarmy.com), an online game that is used as a recruitment tool by the US military. It has also given rise to anti-war protest, when visual artist Joseph DeLappe (www.delappe.net) entered the game using an avatar named ‘dead in iraq’ and began listing the names and dates of death of all US military personnel killed in Iraq on the game’s server.
The perfect antidote to all this militaristic gaming is September 12th (www.newsgaming.com). In this simulation, you have to bomb a city to kill terrorists. But ‘collateral damage’ is inevitable, with every bomb killing more civilians and creating more terrorists
Political gaming isn’t only a battle between the left and the neo-cons. For example, white supremacists in the US created a game called Ethnic Cleansing (www.resistance.com/ethniccleansing), in which the player shoots blacks, Jews and various ‘mud races’, who make monkey noises as they die.
There is rumoured to be a game called Global Jihad in the pipeline, featuring battles in Chechnya, Iraq, Kashmir and Palestine with an eventual battle with a demonic Uncle Sam. The first-person shooter actually halts during prayer times.
Lastly, Special Force (www.specialforce.net) is a video game based on actual battles by Hezbollah with the Israeli army, which has sold over 100,000 copies in the Middle East. In the practice area you shoot large images of Ariel Sharon, while in the main game players are especially encouraged to shoot settlers. Mahmoud Rayya, a Hezbollah official, claims: ‘This game is resisting the Israeli occupation through the media. In a way, Special Force offers a mental and personal training for those who play it, allowing them to feel that they are in the shoes of the resistance fighters.’
Hsiao-Hung Pai meets people affected by the fire, and finds sadness and suffering mixed with a continuing wariness of the official investigations
Chris Williamson MP, winner of the election's tightest marginal, Derby North, and recently reappointed shadow minister for fire services, talks to Ashish Ghadiali about Jeremy Corbyn, the housing crisis and winning from the left
The Corbyn-supporting group is preparing for another election at any moment, writes Adam Peggs – and now has the potential to create powerful training initiatives, union links and party reform efforts
’We believe in you. We are with you. We will never forget.’ Grenfell solidarity sweeps East London in mass banner drops from housing estates
Michael Calderbank profiles Jeremy Corbyn's new supporters in parliament
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continues to witness devastating political violence, but the world refuses to act. Ishiaba Kasonga and Serge Egola Angbakodolo ask why?
When fire safety has become a privilege for the rich, it’s time to stop austerity and fund emergency mass works to raise standards immediately, writes Jane Shallice
The election result has irreversibly changed political discourse in the UK, writes James Fox
In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Bernie Grant's election to parliament, Ayo Wallace explores the life and legacy of his radical representation of Tottenham's black communities.
Across Britain, hundreds of thousands of people have now taken part in mass rallies for Corbyn's Labour. Eli Regan soaks up the atmosphere in Warrington
Contribute to Conter – the new cross-party platform linking Scottish socialists
Jonathan Rimmer, editor of Conter, says it’s time for a new non-sectarian space for Scottish anti-capitalists and invites you to take part
Editorial: Empire will eat itself
Ashish Ghadiali introduces the June/July issue of Red Pepper
Eddie Chambers: Black artists and the DIY aesthetic
Eddie Chambers, artist and art historian, speaks to Ashish Ghadiali about the cultural strategies that he, as founder of the Black Art Group, helped to define in the 1980s
Despite Erdogan, Turkey is still alive
With this year's referendum consolidating President Erdogan’s autocracy in Turkey, Nazim A argues that the way forward for democrats lies in a more radical approach
Red Pepper Race Section: open editorial meeting – 11 August in Leeds
The next open editorial meeting of the Red Pepper Race Section will take place between 3.30-5.30pm, Friday 11th August in Leeds.
Mogg-mentum? Thatcherite die-hard Jacob Rees-Mogg is no man of the people
Adam Peggs says Rees-Mogg is no joke – he is a living embodiment of Britain's repulsive ruling elite
Power to the renters: Turning the tide on our broken housing system
Heather Kennedy, from the Renters Power Project, argues it’s time to reject Thatcher’s dream of a 'property-owning democracy' and build renters' power instead
Your vote can help Corbyn supporters win these vital Labour Party positions
Left candidate Seema Chandwani speaks to Red Pepper ahead of ballot papers going out to all members for a crucial Labour committee
Join the Rolling Resistance to the frackers
Al Wilson invites you to take part in a month of anti-fracking action in Lancashire with Reclaim the Power
The Grenfell public inquiry must listen to the residents who have been ignored for so long
Councils handed housing over to obscure, unaccountable organisations, writes Anna Minton – now we must hear the voices they silenced
India: Modi’s ‘development model’ is built on violence and theft from the poorest
Development in India is at the expense of minorities and the poor, writes Gargi Battacharya
North Korea is just the start of potentially deadly tensions between the US and China
US-China relations have taken on a disturbing new dimension under Donald Trump, writes Dorothy Guerrero
The feminist army leading the fight against ISIS
Dilar Dirik salutes militant women-organised democracy in action in Rojava
France: The colonial republic
The roots of France’s ascendant racism lie as deep as the origins of the French republic itself, argues Yasser Louati
This is why it’s an important time to support Caroline Lucas
A vital voice of dissent in Parliament: Caroline Lucas explains why she is asking for your help
PLP committee elections: it seems like most Labour backbenchers still haven’t learned their lesson
Corbyn is riding high in the polls - so he can face down the secret malcontents among Labour MPs, writes Michael Calderbank
Going from a top BBC job to Tory spin chief should be banned – it’s that simple
This revolving door between the 'impartial' broadcaster and the Conservatives stinks, writes Louis Mendee – we need a different media
I read Gavin Barwell’s ‘marginal seat’ book and it was incredibly awkward
Gavin Barwell was mocked for writing a book called How to Win a Marginal Seat, then losing his. But what does the book itself reveal about Theresa May’s new top adviser? Matt Thompson reads it so you don’t have to
We can defeat this weak Tory government on the pay cap
With the government in chaos, this is our chance to lift the pay cap for everyone, writes Mark Serwotka, general secretary of public service workers’ union PCS
Corbyn supporters surge in Labour’s internal elections
A big rise in left nominations from constituency Labour parties suggests Corbynites are getting better organised, reports Michael Calderbank
Undercover policing – the need for a public inquiry for Scotland
Tilly Gifford, who exposed police efforts to recruit her as a paid informer, calls for the inquiry into undercover policing to extend to Scotland
Becoming a better ally: how to understand intersectionality
Intersectionality can provide the basis of our solidarity in this new age of empire, writes Peninah Wangari-Jones
The myth of the ‘white working class’ stops us seeing the working class as it really is
The right imagines a socially conservative working class while the left pines for the days of mass workplaces. Neither represent today's reality, argues Gargi Bhattacharyya
The government played the public for fools, and lost
The High Court has ruled that the government cannot veto local council investment decisions. This is a victory for local democracy and the BDS movement, and shows what can happen when we stand together, writes War on Want’s Ross Hemingway.
An ‘obscure’ party? I’m amazed at how little people in Britain know about the DUP
After the Tories' deal with the Democratic Unionists, Denis Burke asks why people in Britain weren't a bit more curious about Northern Ireland before now
The Tories’ deal with the DUP is outright bribery – but this government won’t last
Theresa May’s £1.5 billion bung to the DUP is the last nail in the coffin of the austerity myth, writes Louis Mendee
Brexit, Corbyn and beyond
Clarity of analysis can help the left avoid practical traps, argues Paul O'Connell
Paul Mason vs Progress: ‘Decide whether you want to be part of this party’ – full report
Broadcaster and Corbyn supporter Paul Mason tells the Blairites' annual conference some home truths
Contagion: how the crisis spread
Following on from his essay, How Empire Struck Back, Walden Bello speaks to TNI's Nick Buxton about how the financial crisis spread from the USA to Europe
How empire struck back
Walden Bello dissects the failure of Barack Obama's 'technocratic Keynesianism' and explains why this led to Donald Trump winning the US presidency