Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Cat and The Coup

I was suggested The Cat and The Coup by another student and I'm really glad I checked it out!

The Cat and the Coup is a documentary game in which you play the cat of Dr. Mohammed Mossadegh, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran. During the summer of 1953, the CIA engineered a coup to bring about his downfall. As a player, you coax (the ghost of) Mossadegh back through significant events of his life by knocking objects off of shelves, scattering his papers, jumping on his lap and scratching him.

I've never really considered the concept of a documentory game before so for that aspect alone this is kind of eye opening. The idea of using video games as allegories has a lot of potential in my mind and what I like particularly about this game, is that it not only communicates these ideas but does so while providing interesting gameplay elements. The puzzles are all fairly simple but challenging enough to keep you interested.

Aesthetically, The Cat and The Coup feels like a collage peiced together from paper cut outs and magazine clippings - visuals which certainly complement the fragmented style of this historical retelling. In fact, the game goes as far to use real clippings from the time to tell parts of the story. What is also interesting is the fact that the game world is seamless, the player falling into new areas which are connected in a fairly surreal manner, layers of two and illusionary three dimensional depth coexisting within the same flat space. 

Definatly a game I'll need to revisit.


  1. This game was the catalyst for me with our discussion about the nature of the space that we are looking at and I think need to consider in a much more liberated way. You talk of the flat plane having both a 2D and 3D suggestion in the game and this spurs me on to think that we need to escape the notion that the space we are working with is actually in anyway similar to the 3D space of our "real-time" experience. The comic page I entered in my own blog was also another trigger for a reconsideration of the nature of the space that we are dealing with. I agree that The Cat and the Coup is interesting because of its layering of suggested different dimensional spaces but also because there is a lack of stable orientation in the space (it rocks). The comic page goes further and suggests that the spatial experience can be one of a terrain that has ravines and peaks (all suggested by the multiple perspectives - high angles low angles) that are captured on the same page. It seems to me that we need to understand that the spatial architecture you are playing with in these games is an algorithmic space in the sense that its behaviour is only restricted by the code or operations that generate the behaviour and that we need to escape the thinking that this somehow can only simulate 3D or 2D space. Another way of looking at this type of space is that it is fluid or has similarities to topological space. Topology is a type of geometry that has quite a different set of behaviours to that of Cartesian three dimensional space that so much of our spatial thinking assumes. This more dynamic space-scape of the virtual worlsds that you are playing with should be considered in terms of its dynamic behaviour with elements connected to the different behaviours of the spaces that are part of the game. There is no gravity in this space, there can be worm holes or portals, the characters are affected by the different active agents of the space etc. If you start thinking of the spatial architecture that you are playing with in these terms and more I think then you will have a stronger sense of the possibilities of the types of games that you could develop. This also suggests to me that the other post I put in my blog of the Portal game reinforces the idea that space itself has an interactive energy and it is not just the user making decisions but the relations between user and space itself that are mutually interacting. We might need a face to face to continue this line of thought but i hope you can see that the possibility of conceptualising space is not restricted to two or three dimensions in a spatial environment that is stable but that there can be multiple dimensions and that the spatial world itself is an active agent in the game.

  2. Actually the portal2 example is in an earlier comment I posted to you. I think it is useful as it shows the active nature of the spatial energies that have been programmed into the environment. These active energies of course do not necessarily need to be expressed as explicit forces (the blue energy rings) but can be implicit and still be active. I think the possibilities of think about space as an active agent of change or in other words an interactive agent has real possibiliites even for the simplist of games. In other words you don't need to go through doors or off frame to be engaged in different spatial experiences. The spatial dynamics can be embedded as manifold spaces with the one frame and can take you to other spaces and or times both in the future and or the past.

  3. Thank you Bevin! That's all really useful stuff to think about. I'm writing a post on Portal at the moment so will try to respond to some of these ideas in that as well as through the test project I've been experimenting with. I see what you mean about 2d and 3d space in that they're both just representations, so really a 2d world is no less real than a 3 dimensional one, it's all illusionary. Agency of space is interesting, it makes me wonder how far space extends, like would other characters in an environment be considered part of that