The City of Amsterdam subsidized a free educational game entitled ‘Road to Freedom’ that was 1.5 years in the making to teach children about Dutch slavery in Suriname. It was produced by the National Institute for the Study of Dutch Slavery and its Legacy and designed by Pepergroen to mark the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery.
The Afro-Surinamese community in the Netherlands wasn’t thrilled with the game, but neither were the Americans at Apple who called the content ”slanderous and insulting”. A quick Google search shows that Apple is not a fan of anything with slaves in it, like this sweatshop app.
On the one hand, anything too culturally confrontational makes many people from countries with unresolved colonial pasts uncomfortable and on the other, anything that is presented in a game format already downgrades the importance of historical relevance. If I were at school today and someone gave me a flee from a Russian labour camp game, I’d have a real problem with it and so would my parents.
I do get what the makers were trying to do, but unfortunately they have managed to trivialize something that deserves a much better platform. A Dutch friend of mine would say, ‘het idee is goed, maar de uitvoering is klote’ (‘The idea is good, but the execution is crap’).
UPDATE The video we had up yesterday introducing the game has been pulled offline.
On Tuesday April 29 crowdfunding website Kickstarter now features a page for the Netherlands. Before then, Dutch residents with good ideas had to register their project through another country like the United States. Since then, about 30 new project ideas have popped up on the Dutch page, while the rest are projects that were around when they had to circumvent the country issue. And just like in other countries, Kickstarter takes 5% off the top when and if projects achieve their financial goal.
One of them was more fun than anything else: the ‘Fish on wheels’ (on Kickstarter). Other projects include lots of board games, music, tech, film and inventions.
Tip to the lightbulbs: please let someone check your English if you want to be taken seriously.
In Enschede, Overijssel, a slot machine player has won almost 3 million euro (2,960,221,50 euro to be exact) with the ‘Mega Millions’ slot machines at the state-run Holland Casino last Saturday, making it the highest amount ever won at a Dutch casino. The player, who has chosen to remain anonymous for now but is 30 years of age, only spent 7,50 euro. The more people play these specific slot machines that only cost 0,10 euro per try, the higher the amount. According to an employee at the casino, the new millionaire was taken aback by all of this and has not yet made themselves known to the media.
In April 2013 another person from Enschede won 1,600,000 euro.
Two guys from Utrecht, Rami Ismail (25) and Jan Willem Nijman (23), created the game app for iPhone and iPad Ridiculous Fishing that has been chosen as Game of the Year 2013 by Apple. The game was based on a film they saw about overfishing tuna. The main goal is to avoid catching fish on your line. If you do catch some fish, then you have to reel them all in and eventually you get to shoot them in the air.
They had months of struggling with other game studios copying and remaking their originally free game, but after eating noodles for four months and going for gold, Ridiculous Fishing took off and both guys are now rich, making 12,000 euro a week, and sometimes 30,000 to 50,000 euro a week. The game costs 2,69, it is selling like hotcakes and there will be an Android version one of these days.
Inspired by the Russian game Tetris, Ruijssenaars thought up a row house made of blocks placed in such a way that every room has a different view of outside instead of just being able to see out the front or out the back. His idea was based on a building contest in Peru in 2009 which was about increasing density. By having more people use the same space, he was able to increase the density as well as the quality of the residences.
It remains to be seen who will be the first to build these houses. And although different, they do remind me of Habitat 67 in Montreal by Moshe Safdie.
Ruzzle is a simple word game in which you have to tap a series of connected letters on a randomized grid to form as many words as you can in two minutes.
Here is a video by a guy called Flupkees who can guess 136 Dutch words in a single session (of the 302 possible words). He is going so fast I cannot even follow what is going on: pot, poter, poten, po, pon, ???, pik, pikt, pikte, prik, prikt, prikte and so on.
Richard Garsthagen made this ingenious gift box for his 15-year-old niece for Saint Nicholas’ Eve.
On Saint Nicholas’ Eve many grown ups and teenagers in the Netherlands give each other gifts. To keep things affordable a spending limit is determined and the name of each recipient is drawn from a hat. The gift is hidden somewhere in the house or wrapped in a difficult to unwrap package called the ‘surprise’, and the person giving it writes a poem on behalf of Saint Nicholas in which the good saint mockingly reviews the recipients’ past year.
Garsthagen’s niece did not seem to understand the concept of a spending limit and asked for gifts that were much more expensive than that, so he hid her gift in a The Price is Right game. In the video he explains how it works, and at Instructables he explains how you can create a game like this yourself.
(Photo: crop from a screenshot of the video by Richard Garsthagen)
Owner Elles Hetebrij of the Hete Brij pub in Zwolle has had it with anti-social behaviour from mobile gamers, and has banned the Scrabble like word game Wordfeud from her establishment, De Stentor reports.
Sometimes the bar is filled with people playing Wordfeud. Nobody is talking to each other or to the bartender any more, much to his chagrin. [...] We talk to our patrons about their behaviour. If you want to be on an ‘island’, you might as well play at home. This is a brown café where the atmosphere needs to be lively.
Manager Patrick Hugen added:
People even interrupt their game of darts to enter a word. This has to stop.
Wordfeud is a game that’s played on a mobile phone against Internet opponents. Is it really that addictive? I find that hard to believe. What do you think?
Man voice-off (JP): I know what it is, but I don’t think I can tell you what this means at 7:03 pm on television…
Man voice-off (JP): It’s a…
Lucille: Hey wait, we have to be careful, there’s always very nice children watching Lingo, eh!
Man voice-off (JP): Exactly. Put it this way, it’s a certain important moment in the scene of a film that you only see very late.
Look at that, it is possible to deal with nasty words and still not have to censure everything like other countries do. And so ‘cumshot’ is apparently a Dutch word now as well. You don’t need a dictionary for that either.
A couple of weeks ago I recommended you play Zwarte Piet, one of the few video games (that I know of) where you play a black hero. But is he a true hero, or just a white caricature of one? Your enjoyment of the game can hinge on your answer. And games are there to be enjoyed, right?
Philosophy student Victor Gijsbers doesn’t seem to think that is the whole truth. About the inspiration for his role playing game Vampires he once wrote: “It was breathtakingly cruel, a condition with an inexplicable charm of its own; it was dark; it was uncompromising—what a shame that, as [the author] himself claimed, the mechanics didn’t work.”
I first noticed Gijsbers’ work when he published The Baron (and simultaneously a Dutch version, De Baron), a text adventure for adults that on the surface deals with how moral decisions can become easy when all those you meet are monsters. Need I say there is a twist?
The Baron begins as an experiment in futility—a fascinating exploration of someone’s inability to change the inevitable repeating pattern of their life. As you set off on a quest to rescue your kidnapped young daughter from the evil Baron—made all the more sinister by a note left saying he has to be with her as he loves her—you have a righteous task in place. Which makes the implications of your inevitable failure so very interesting. And then it changes.
I was so deeply affected by this game that after finishing it the rest of my day was pretty much a write-off. I was emotionally ruined. I say this because I want to put up a massive neon warning sign before people play it. But I really think people should play it.
(Not everybody agrees with him, but you will have to play the game yourself to find out where you stand.)