The game many are touting as a creative step forward in video games is Bulletstorm, because of the way it changes the first-person-shooter mechanic, but let’s be honest. If this is the best gaming has to offer on the creativity front, we’ve got a real problem on our hands. Thankfully, we have something truly unique in Stacking, an Xbox Live and Playstation Network game (only $15!) in which you control various Russian stacking dolls to solve puzzles in various ways.

That right there is unique enough, but Stacking goes a step further by offering up a truly unique satirical look at the 1940s industrial revolution and the toll it took on society and families. I’m not kidding! I’m only part-way through, but so far, it’s actually pretty smart, at least when compared to Bulletstorm’s supposed satire of the first-person-shooter genre. By allowing us to control Charlie, the runtiest in a family of several children who were sent off to work camps to work off their missing dad’s debt, they put us in a position of the underprivileged class. The whole game is an exploration of what it’s like to look at the industrialized world through the eyes of all classes, from the highest class to the lowest class, and even the dogs. It’s fascinating and hilarious to see what these people obsess themselves with, and I think that’s kind of the point.

Play in Process is a short weekly rumination on a game I’ve been playing.


7 Comments

  1. Oh… that other industrial revolution? The one that was constantly interrupted by German siege?

    In other news, I’m starting to think you’re actually in love with Bulletstorm. You harp on it enough (and in unrelated contexts) that you’re starting to remind me of that kid in fifth grade who picked on the girl who sat next to him in math—but did it because he had a crush on her and just didn’t know how to express himself.

  2. Here’s a question: what is the purpose of satirizing a socio-economic circumstance that’s over 200 years old (if Stacking is indeed satirizing at all)? Most of us can’t identify with that kind of world because things are so subtly (and in areas, not so subtly) different, so what is the point. Satire generally has some kind of perspectival change it wishes to enforce upon its audience that is directly related to the object of its satire. So with Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal,” you have Swift wishing to craft a shift in perspective with toward to British policy and attitude with regard to the Irish poor. With The Mantra of Jabez, Wilson wishes to bring to light the trouble with, what else, The Prayer of Jabez.

    So then, what warm opinion about the Russian Industrial revolution does Stacking hope to confront and shift?

  3. Yeah, that’s a totally valid point, and one I actually thought of myself. It’s not as if anyone thought most of those things were good ideas. Still, I saw myself in some of the higher class dolls, who were so preoccupied with some of the more trivial and pointless things that they pay no attention to the absurd injustices around them. I think that’s a universal and timeless problem that Stacking addresses pretty well.

  4. So with that in mind, do you think that maybe neither Bulletstorm nor Stacking are satires?

    Bulletstorm, if intended as satire, seems poorly done because it doesn’t seem to be drawing anyone to see how ridiculous and sometimes reprehensible the situational violence of FPS games are when considered realistically, but instead seems to be drawing people in through what by most counts is ridiculously fun gameplay. At the most, Bulletstorm sounds more like parody than satire. At the same time, Stacking sounds less like satire and more like an inventive period piece that employs relevant social commentary. And also does well at what it intends.

    Both games sound like they explore their gaming intentions with excellence (if Bulletstorm‘s real intention is fun FPSing), just at entirely different ends of the gaming spectrum.

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