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satirizing the government

Started by ace pilot, January 13, 2003, 12:27:59 AM

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ace pilot

Hey all,

I am writing a sci-fi RPG and one of the governments is a facist, totalitarian regime that has been run over the decades by guys named Bush, Reagan, Rumsfeld, etc.  This is a deliberate choice meant to be political satire and commentary.  However, I want to know if this is too heavy handed and if I should allude to our government in a more subtle way. (e.g., Cypher in "The Matrix" is Ronald Reagan")  Many thanks in advance!


Jack Spencer Jr

You're asking us what you should or shouldn't do? Only you can decide how you want to make your game look. All we can offer is guidance and/or opinions.

I personally find that a tad heavy handed. It would not be especially funny, I think.

On a side note, Cypher is Ronald Reagan? Where? I didn't see that. Did I miss something?


I don't particularly see the point in linking these individuals to fascism.  Regardless of whether one voted for them or not, they are clearly not actually fascists.  What effect are you going for.  Humor?  I'm not seeing it.  Sharp political commentary? Far to far afield for it to have any insight or impact, I think.  What?

Without more information it sounds more silly than satirical.  How does the idea benefit your game?


Quote from: ValamirRegardless of whether one voted for them or not, they are clearly not actually fascists

Well that all depends on how you look at it.
Impeach the bomber boys:

"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
- Leonardo da Vinci



 I suppose it depends on the rest of the game.  If this is just a throw-away satire thing in an otherwise "straight" universe, then I don't think it'd be terribly effective overall.  If it's just one more piece of craziness in the universe (say, it's right next door to Planet Librallea where the leaders are lobbying for Lichen Rights) then yeah, it might be more on-target.

 If you can find it, Underground is a great game that picks up on this idea of a satirical look at a corporate state.  Of course, part of the satire is how thoroughly the society has been co-opted and how willingly the citizens went along with it.  I think a more integrated approach will serve you better in the long run and the game as a whole (political satire has a very limited shelf life -- the whole Monica Lewinsky thing has pretty much vanished from our national conscious and isn't nearly the fertile comedy mine it was just a couple years ago).

The Three Stooges ran better black ops.

Don't laugh, Larry would strike unseen from the shadows and Curly...well, Curly once toppled a dictatorship with the key from a Sardine tin.

Ron Edwards

Hi there,

Jack's right, I think. The degree of humor, insight, and pointedness that you're after can - in the long run - only be determined by you.

It so happens that a recent small-press game I'm looking over includes a lot of digs at an American political party. Some of the digs are extremely funny, in my view, and some are amusing without being pointed (i.e. they could have been applied to the other party just as easily). But then I realized that their frequency was beginning to irritate me - the game was diminished by the repetition; after a while, I wondered whether the jokes were enhancing the game or the game existed as a vehicle for the jokes.

And the really interesting thing, I think, was that my threshold for how many were too much was very low: after about two, that was enough.


Jack Spencer Jr

Quote from: Ron EdwardsAnd the really interesting thing, I think, was that my threshold for how many were too much was very low: after about two, that was enough.

I wonder, was two the limit or could there have been more if they were spaced out more? That is, could they have put only two jokes within the first three pages or could they have squeeze 10 really good jokes in if they had several pages between jokes?


I think that best satire is two pointed. Don't only ridicule the governement but also the public who accepts them. Your facist Bush is IMO good if you present the ordinary people as voluntarily supporting and even loving him.

You could make a good point if the values and fears of the general public were same as those of the real-world citizens. Best satire is offensive to the audience as well.

Another good point could be made about mass media and military-idustrial complex. You don't need to change anything - just make it more extreme and underline the existing perversions.

The kind of satire I like most doesn't ridicule just political parties or leaders but also - and most of all - our ways of life, our value systems and our everyday perceptions of the world. Try to get people mad at you and it will work. Read Capec's Salamander war.

Best luck to your game!
Johannes Kellomaki