The Oldest Game in the Headlines

At the beginning of this new year, we’re thrilled to announce that The Oldest Game is moving along in development and is coming ever closer to beta! We’re in the process of putting the finishing touches on the script in its current form, and after the last gameplay kinks are worked out, we’re looking forward to getting down to play testing. It’s an extremely exciting time for the whole team and we can’t wait for this project to finally debut!

Since we released the trailer for The Oldest Game at the beginning of December to coincide with Bill C-36 being signed into law, there’s been a great deal of interest in the project, to our delight. Jen Zoratti wrote a profile on the game for the Winnipeg Free Press. She spoke to one of our project’s team leads, Sandra Gabriele, who stated that one of the goals of the game was to make the lives of sex workers something less sensationalized, and more real:

“It’s easy to get wrapped up in the morality questions around sex work,” Gabriele says. “We lose sight of the fact that, for many people, it’s a question of survival. It’s a question of working. It’s a question of earning money. The same kind of questions that every other person has.”

Emma Wooley also wrote an in-depth piece about the game for the Globe & Mail, which focussed explored the idea of the newsgame both within and outside of the academy. In this interview, Gabriele also talked about how difficult it is to finalize a script for a game when the discussion surrounding it is evolving all the time: “Just yesterday I said to [writer] Natalie [Walschots]: ‘NOW said they would continue to accept ads on behalf of sex workers, we need a pop up of that!’ The game is constantly changing as story is emerging.” That’s the problem with finishing newsgames: there is always more news!

In the cleverly-titled piece “A Game of Life with Crooked Rules” in The Link, Verity Stevenson spoke to Gabriele about the importance of hiring a sex worker to be a part of the development team as a consultant. Gabriele also discussed some of the specific ways that The Oldest Game hopes to illustrate how Bill C-36 will impact the lives of sex workers, and how “the new laws would force sex workers into dangerous situations by isolating them from their support systems.”

Most recently, Kate Richards also wrote a great feature on The Oldest Game for Comics Gaming Magazine. He piece focussed on the complexities of building the game, the collaboration required and challenges that the newsgame format presents: “The team faced many challenges, Lynch said. After some consultation with more experienced game designers, the team realized the importance of not only getting the message across, but of portraying a realistic representation of the sex worker character in the game and the situations she faces.”

Not all of the responses have been positive, however: in Feminist Current (the one publication that did not interview a member of our development team for their piece), Meghan Murphy questioned how well news games functioned as journalism, stating “not only does this form of “journalism” not count as “journalism” at all, but it succeeds at doing much less than even most lazy mainstream journalism does, in terms of covering this issue, presenting an extremely limited, biased, and underresearched [sic].” We engaged with Meghan Murphy on Twitter, and hope the discussion was productive.

We’re looking forward to getting our games into the hands of supporters and critics, and getting even more responses to the project. Onward!