As if making light of our horrendous history is exactly what we should be feeding our children’s minds, the makers of highly-offensive game ‘Playing History: Slave Trade’ are essentially ‘playing with fire’.
Serious Game Interactive, SGI, (developer of virtual games) and Steam, the online game platform, are the companies behind the offensive and insensitive game that apparently is supposed to “teach” our children the horrors of the trans-Atlantic African slave trade. While TNT struggles to come to terms with the fact that human beings actually created this game, here’s a brief description of the game.
You play as an 18th century African trans-Atlantic slave witnessing the slave trade firsthand. You serve the white captain and are his eyes and ears – reporting any suspicious activities. In addition, you get to stack slaves on the ship just as you once stacked blocks on Tetris.
The Playing History game series “revolves around experiencing engaging and personal stories set in exhilarating points in world history”, SGI cites. “The series puts you in the middle of important and interesting points in history”.
Let’s get back to basics here; the Oxford dictionary’s definition of a ‘game’ is “an activity providing entertainment or amusement”. So what is entertaining or amusing about the events of one of the cruelest injustices in human history? How is stacking slaves in ships like in the Tetris game something that can be termed “cute”, as some commentators suggest? Will SGI and Steam be making ‘Playing History: Auschwitz’ or ‘Playing History: How America nuked Hiroshima’?
Upon releasing the demo in the Autumn of 2014, Simon, a spokesperson for Steam announced, “We are happy to share a demo of the game, and are looking forward to especially here [hear] from the ones with the harsh comments :-)”. Firstly, may we suggest the use of spell check before sending out an official announcement – just saying.
So why has Steam decided to be part of a game toying with such a weighty, highly-sensitive and offensive subject? TNT contacted Steam, as well as SGI, for their comments and are still awaiting a response. Undoubtedly, both companies have received a torrent of outrage from social media users calling for the game – now “used in around 300 Danish schools, and has been for a few years”, Steam says – to be banned.
Lee Jasper, Co-Chair of Black Activist Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) stated, “This so-called Slave Tetris game is grossly offensive and deeply insulting to black people. Online unreconstructed racism is out of control reflecting a growth in racism in the real world. This company should be forced to withdraw this vile product”.
Should you have a moment to spare, please watch the trailer and if you share the same view as TNT – which is against as opposed to for the release of the game in the UK – then please help generate the a body of feedback to be considered by Steam and SGI.
In short, TNT is making it clear that the game is an affront to social progression, positive education and all the hard work achieved by the Civil Rights movement, Garveyism and other countless heroes in our history as a forward-thinking people.
TNT News Yasin Chinembiri