"Star Wars: Rebellion"
Computer video game
"Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds"
Computer video game
There are a number of role-playing games connected to "Star Wars." People can roam about using light sabers in fantasy adventure games galore. However, this review is about "Star Wars"-related strategy games, which are games which have to have the following components to gain the reviewer's attention: economics, technology and war. There are countless games of military tactics, but most computer games do not have a crucial economic component and thereby do not qualify as strategy games of interest. It is in the strategy games where we can hope to see a glimmering of real thought, and even socialism.
"Star Wars: Rebellion" and "Galactic Battlegrounds" fit the bill as potentially of interest, because the economy is key. We agree with the 1998 GameSpot review that "Rebellion" does not really compare with "Master of Orion," another science-fiction game. "Rebellion" is partly a compromise with the role-playing consumer, because missions of the movie characters are critical, unless in a pure strategy game.
An unscientific survey of 288 fans in November, 2002 showed that 59% play Darth Vader's Empire side of the game; even though players have the choice of playing Vader's side or Luke Skywalker's side.
MIM has the sneaking suspicion that the poll has revealed yet again the relationship between power and truth. "Rebellion" starts with a shattered fleet of space vessels and very few planets under rebel control. Playing Darth Vader's side would appear to be easier, as some players commented on the www.swrebellion.com website. In real life, countless people adjust to evil instead of fighting it, and this seems to carry on even in video game playing where people do not like to lose.
Player Slade said on November 23rd, the "rebel side is harder. . . . Anyway the rebels are harder to play cuz the empire is 'all powerful'."
Player "Untimely Demise" made an even more indicative comment! "The Galactic Empire is much more popular than the puny insignificant Rebellion. The forces of the mighty Emperor shall tread on the weak Rebels like ants! Long live the Empire!" We only wish we could be sure that all such comments were really jokes and not the sick minds of people who support imperialism, but reality in the imperialist countries pretty much amounts to what "Untimely Demise" said about a mere game.
For us at MIM, we recall what Mao's critics told him when he said he was going to make a revolution to oust Japanese occupiers and China's own semi-feudalism. The Japanese were better armed and financed. After dealing with them, Mao would have to face a more numerous, better armed, better financed, U.$-backed Chinese army supporting Chiang Kai-shek, the reactionary Chinese republican. Yet, it turns out that Mao was no Don Quixote.
In fact, the same is true in "Rebellion." Contrary to what the players on the official "Star Wars" game site say, there is no way to lose as the rebel side, and in fact the game is much easier than "Master of Orion" and many other science fiction games, even playing as the rebel side on the hardest setting.
Although it is fanciful compared with Mao's actual revolution, "Rebellion" contains the same basic issues that Mao had to face, just in different settings. We see how such strategy simulation games could be tweaked to bring people to a closer and closer understanding of socialism; yet for that matter we do not recommend the "Star Wars" games at all. Others in the same genre are superior.
Nonetheless, we will turn now to the sequel to "Rebellion." Making use of movie sound and video clips and offering a tight graphical interface saving the best sounds for the start of the game itself, "Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds" is itself a piece of art.
As in children's toys, it seems easier to sell something that everyone already knows, hence the Hollywood connection to so many games and toys these days. The better game in the same series of games is "Rebellion," but neither compare favorably with the movie.
The one point worth mentioning is that while there is trade in the game, there is no money. In discussion of political economy, we say there is a "physical model" of the economy behind the game, to refer to the fact that profit and other monetized indices are not used to judge success. Economists Marx and Ricardo were known for this sort of approach. However, other simulation games available have much more potential for teaching about socialist planning. In the science-fiction genre of strategy computer games, planning of the economy instead of a money-driven market is a given.
The player plans production. If the player does not balance resources correctly, there will be bottlenecks and eventually military defeat. Historically, the most similar situation is in wartime. Lenin's "war communism" phase in the birth of the Soviet Union would be one parallel; however, there are only species-based differences in character available in the game. There is no connection of class struggle to the success of the economy. What the war is really for or what it advances has been completely left out of the game. It has become a model of intra-capitalist war.
"Galactic Battlegrounds" is mindless militarism. The programming is very strong without the frequent crashing seen in most strategic simulation video games. True, there is also an economy and technology modeled in the game that affect military success and the economy is planned not really a market economy; however, the politics in "Rebellion" is better and the movie is better still.
See "Star Wars: Rebellion"
Buy "Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds"
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