Molleindustria: “Serious Games” with a Sense of Humor

Before our class on video games today, I wanted to post a link to the Molleindustria games site to give some current examples of the “serious games” category discussed in this week’s reading.

Molleindustria is an Italian team of designers, artists and programmers who have been making online games using Flash animation software since 2003. Often brashly critical of institutional powers, their work falls into of a genre of cultural production called “serious games,” which applies the art of video game design to address real world problems. The category of “serious games” was discussed in Mary Flanagan’s “Critical Play” article, in which she claims that serious games “use video game technology in innovative and novel ways to convey messages, but bear little resemblance to mainstream games.” However, Molleindustria’s graphics and game play have the same aesthetic and controls as many of the Flash-based Internet games, arguably making these “serious games” more accessible and more fun.

The group, whose individual members try to stay anonymous, has published a wide-ranging assortment of games that challenge the increasing corporatization of online and offline cultural media. They explain their approach to art and culture making: “We believe that the explosive slogan that spread quickly after the Anti-WTO demonstrations in Seattle, ‘Don’t hate the media, become the media’” applies to the medium of video games.

“We can free videogames from the ‘dictatorship of entertainment,’ using them instead to describe pressing social needs, and to express our feelings or ideas just as we do in other forms of art.”
– Molleindustria

From the website:

Mol·lein·dus·tria / mòl-le indùstria /mòl-le inˈdustrja/ :

1. Soft Industry.
2. Soft Factory.
3. A project of reappropriation of video games.
4. A call for the radicalization of popular culture.
5. An independent game developer.

Since 2003 we produced homeopathic remedies to the idiocy of mainstream entertainment in the form of free, short-form, online games. Our products range from satirical business simulations (McDonald’s Video game, Oiligarchy) to meditations on labor and alienation (Every day the same dream, Tuboflex, Unmanned), from playable theories (the Free Culture Game, Leaky World) to politically incorrect pseudo-games (Orgasm Simulator, Operation: Pedopriest)

Here is a link to a video produced by Molleindustria that introduces the group’s approach to creating games.

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