CIA 2065 vs CIA 2012 (part 1)
It may seem an unusual move to set a strategy game about the CIA 50 years from now. After all, players interested in such a political strategy game will likely be very interested in current world affairs, and probably less-so in science-fiction, however serious. There are however, several advantages to setting the game in the future, and I intend to expose them in this devlog (and the next).Replayability
Having the game start in 2012 would severely hinder replayability. Sure, the CIA’s starting resources could be somewhat randomized, given the fact that few people know exactly the agency’s current assets, but if one wants to achieve the tiniest bit of realism, the challenges that will present themselves in the first year would be overly similar each playthough. With a starting date in 2065, the game can simulate some 50 years of world evolution starting from today’s actual situation. This simulation (including random elements) can produce a great variety of starting scenarios.Political bias
No matter how hard one tries, making a game centered on the intelligence business is going to be politically biased. The designer’s partisan preferences, as well as his conceptions of justice, human rights, security and religion, to name only a few, will have an impact on the game. Moreover, the players of such kinds of games usually have strong political opinions, opinions which are as biased as the designer’s, often in a different direction. Therefore, there will likely be a serious gap between the game’s and the player’s philosophy. This can infuriate players, given how sensitive the topic is. Even worse, the result of a player’s actions may be different from his expectation, for purely subjective reasons, because they are ultimately determined by the designer, whose bias is different from the player’s.
By putting the game into 2065, some of those biases can be softened somewhat. In 2065, the issues related to justice, human rights and security will likely remain the same. This kind of bias will probably still permeate the game. However, there is little doubt that the ties between ideology or religion, on one side, and security issues, on the other side will be totally different. Chances are great, for example, that islamist terrorism will not still be considered the biggest threat to national security. Either Al Qaeda and the likes will have dwindled by then, or another worse threat will emerge. By allowing such threats to emerge in the scenario generation, neutrality can be improved. For example, most extreme forms of religion can generate terrorism. Or the biggest threat could be neo-communist fighting cells. Or white supremacist terrorists, or a pan-Latin America terrorist group, or eco-terrorists, you name it. Of course, this list itself reflects a bias.
In all honesty, it’s not so much the bias that will be contained by moving the game to 2065, but rather the controversy it can potentially generate.
(to be continued)