The effects of recently social-political happenings are starting to be felt in the video game world, with indie developers Panic Barn revealing the trailer for their Brexit-inspired offering Not Tonight. Set in a not-too-distant dystopia future, the side-scroller aims to get players both laughing while also contemplating the recent behaviour and rhetoric that has begun to divide society not just in the UK, but all over the world.
Set in a UK dominated by an ultra-right winged government, Not Tonight allows you to play as a bouncer, tasked with identifying, and ultimately rejecting anyone that’s a European citizen, not unlike border patrol. You achieve the job by checking IDs, checking for contraband and managing the VIP entry lines into the venue. As explained by Panic Barn founder Tim Constant to Engadget, “You’re asked to essentially sift through and distinguish whether someone is European or not.”
That said, the aim of the game is to break the rules. Missions include helping revolutionaries destabilise the regime by allowing multiple cultures and ethnicities into the club, invoking the ire of your employer. Constant adds, “The overall tone of the game is just… be nice…Try to be nice, whatever your situation.”
The missions are designed to be weighty, with a health bar that will deplete should you overwork yourself. The idea is to add a sense of meaning and consequence to your gaming, “Do I feel right about implementing all of this anti-European legislation?” Constant explains of the missions, “I can do something about it, but I might not get the money I need to pay the bills this week.”
Despite a very UK feel to the tone, language and humour of the game, Panic Barn and Constant don’t want this be contained purely to Brexit, but indeed anti-social developments the world over, “It’s not necessarily Brexit itself…but anything that’s used to divide us. Anything that divides us into categories is bad in my opinion.”
The concept is a very interesting insight into the future of gaming amongst the various international Populism movements. As nations continue to have their identities and moral codes challenged, it’s safe to assume gamers can expect to find themselves navigating these themes and topics with joysticks.
What’s more, this opens up a whole new paradigm for games: Grand Theft Auto – The Whitehouse, for example, or Crash Bandicoot – Escape From Manus Island…Judging by some of the feedback to the official trailer, not everyone is ready to address such issues via a 16-bit lo-fi interface. Many are not willing to accept that Not Tonight represents the future of Brexit at all, creating for some highly volatile discussion around the game.
…One thing’s for sure – the next generation of gamers are going to be woke AF. There may be hope for us yet.
Not Tonight has been given a tentative release date of later this year.