I’m now working on a game that I’m calling Syphilisation. It’s a 4X in which you play one of a group of students working on a group report on Winston Churchill.
I started thinking about this around a year ago when reading James Joyce’s Ulysses. A character in a pub used the term Syphilisation to mock the idea of Western Civilization. I had been thinking about what a good video game parody would look like, something that would use the systems to make a statement about what the systems of another game has to say and what games would be ripe for such a parody. These two pieces clicked together extremely well and the game has been in the back of my head ever since.
Well, Civ2 is one of the games that I grew up with and SM:AC is my favorite game of all time. I play every new release as they come out. It’s a gaming institution and I would much rather parody a grand old master of the form than something young and fresh and raw.
Also, Civ does have some glaring holes in what the systems say. There’s significant irony in a game named Civilization being so warlike and that irony is probably familiar to any colonized country.
Why A School Project on Churchill?
To start with, Churchill feels like a great focal point for a game that questions the concept of Western Civilization. It’s easy to take any of the major points of his legacy in isolation; WW2, the colonialism, the Nobel Prize for Literature, the white supremacist beliefs, the aristocracy, but the full picture not only requires you to see all of the pieces, but to also see the interplay and contradictions that come up as a result.
The mechanics of Civ automatically work well with expressing the complexities of something like this, but I needed a setting that would fit as well. A group project gives me a solid excuse for having a bunch of people with limited history together work on figuring out Winston Churchill. I also wanted something that gave me the space to make the game substantially about interpersonal relationships. I think that much of a systemic criticism of Civ requires people to make more of a central role. Also, I need to have the titular syphilis spread somehow.
I’m going to put down a couple of early things to get my thoughts on this in order and to help you understand what exactly I’m looking to do. This will entail a couple of concept images, a couple of articles detailing the questions to resolve and the base of something playable. So, look out for those as they come. In the meantime, if you have thoughts on the concept, please send them to me. Also, if you have references on Churchill or Civilization as a whole that you think I should look at, please send them to me as well. I’m actually really looking forward to the research that this game will require.