“The Oldest Game” (working title) is a web-based newsgame that explores the complex issue of the legalization of the sex trade in Ontario and Quebec. Drawing inspiration from games such as Budget Hero, in which players learn the parameters of a complex system, and from role-playing games that provoke empathy and identification, “The Oldest Game” focuses on the motivations on the debate over legalized prostitution. This debate was most recently in the news when three prostitution laws that were up for dispute in the Ontario Court of Appeal (ruling made in March 2012). The game seeks to address a crucial flaw in the media coverage: news articles, in trying to portray a sense of impartiality, often set up a false ‘balance’ between those against changing the laws and those in favor of changing them. Our game seeks to move beyond this polarized style of issue coverage, immersing the player in the complexity of the issue while making them aware of the tensions between the competing narratives used to frame prostitution: on one hand, as a moral issue, on the other, as an issue of labour rights.
Games and Public Engagement