Update: See the publisher’s response in the comments.
In Inquisitio, a game about torture during the Spanish Inquisition designed by Jani Rönkkönen and published by Tuonela Productions, the players’ goal is to survive torture alive and sane, while not confessing to too many crimes of heresy and witchcraft. You start by trying to bribe the guards to free you, but eventually one of the players is subjected to torture, pain, burns, lacerations, disfigurement, and disembowelment. In the end, the player with the most guilt is burned at the stake.
The designer claims that this game is supposed to be informative about a dark period in history, and that moral ambiguity is addressed by having the players as the victims rather than the torturers. I won’t argue the latter point. But abstract elimination through pretend killing somehow seems more palatable than lovingly illustrated abuse, cruelty, and dismemberment.
I could envision an art piece on the subject, but not a game designed for entertainment. I can’t see how playing with simulated torture, with graphical depictions and descriptions of the acts, could be an enjoyable way to spend your time, nor the best way to learn about an historical event.
If this is such a horrible game, why in the world post it in the first place? Seems unnecessary.
I think that as there are many kind of forms of entertainment in movies (horror, drama, comedy) as there are many kind of music styles too from very light-hearted happy music to very aggressive etc.
Why keep the gaming genres so tight. I think that not all games should be perceived within the same category as the games can also simulate war and spreading of virus for example.
I myself have designed a game that has multitude of different kind of disasters too and don´t find it offensive since these occur naturally as in Earth´s history full of Ice Ages and climate changes etc. etc.
I think that we should perceive games as for adults taste too and not only for family values and children.
In the end there can be mainstream games but also games that are in the marginal. I think we should be more open minded conserning games too as we are with films, theatre, music, novels etc.
…and what about video games :)
Don’t get me started on video games.
I agree that there is room for all types and genres of games, and I also agree that there is no one with moral authority to say that any particular game should or should not be printed or enjoyed by those that want to do so. I can only say what MY moral stance is, and what I feel.
First of all, great to see our game being reviewed on a site that I’ve followed for a year or two. Good job.
We at Tuonela believe that games should be seen as art form similar to literature or film industry. Watching Hotel Rwanda isn’t exactly going to bring you a happy & fuzzy feeling, but it’s extremely important piece of art none the less. And when we look at the most awarded novel in the recent years in Finland, Sofi Oksanen’s Purge, it’s about surviving communist regime in Estonia and trying to make peace with yourself even after what it has done to you.
When it comes to Inquisitio it was obvious to us that no other publisher would have the balls to publish it. Even when the game was openly praised by Bruno Faidutti in his webpage, twice, Jani had trouble finding a publisher that sees the art in games. And the game itself isn’t all that gloomy. We tried to lighten the game while not making it look funny and thus ridicule the actual victims. There is no descriptions on how the tortures go and in Essen I think 70% of the people who play it enjoy it’s dark humour a lot and only 30% feel that they were saddened by the theme. In any case, if you’re interested in the game, you should check out our newly made teaser on the game.
Thank you for clarifying, Jussi.