Society: The Game
We Become What We Behold
The first game that I will be covering is We Become What We Behold, published on itch.io in 2016. Its description is as follows:
a game about news cycles, vicious cycles, infinite cycles
The game's title is derived from a quote misattributed to Marshall McLuhan, who was known for writing about media and its effects on the public. More than appropriate for a game that aims to skewer the media cycle.
The main gameplay mechanic is to take pictures of a crowd of people with square and circle shaped heads. (The fact that their head shapes are different will be important later.)
One of the first things that will draw the player's attention is a person in a bowler hat.
Taking that person's picture will not only result in the picture showing up on the TV in the center of the screen, but will also cause several others wearing similar hats.
Get a room? They're just standing together! How prudish can this TV get, anyways?
So far things don't look too exciting...not even that angry-looking guy wandering around.
If you haven't already noticed, the captions that accompany the photos you take have a slight tendency towards hyperbole. Sure, having someone scream in your face is unpleasant, but I wouldn't call it an attack.
Nevertheless, the incident does end up instilling a fear of squares in one circle. (Never mind the fact that it is possible for the angry square to yell at another square.)
In response, the squares start to become wary of circles.
Do you get the message yet?
Meanwhile, the couple from earlier manage to successfully tame the angry square. That looks like something worth reporting on.
But of course, the message won't allow us to do so.
Instead, we have to report on the rising tension between the squares and the circles...
Which creates a feedback loop causing more and more hatred and distrust.
Just when the tension is about to reach a boiling point, the couple from earlier shows up again.
Of course, their effort to de-escalate the situation, and any attempt to call attention to them, is a fruitless effort.
Eventually, things reach a point where nearly everyone has become hostile to each other.
Remember the guy with the hat from the very start? It looks like he's come up with a solution to all this.
That solution? Just kill the angry square in full view of the crowd.
This, of course, does nothing to help, instead causing an unrestrained bloodbath.
Naturally, this is all part of the message; the media is more concerned with presenting outrageous stories to the public, no matter how true they are, than actually informing them.