Déplacement: A Game About Artful Résistance

2007 Nov 28

So… I really want to make a game about what’s going on in the suburbs of Paris, the explosion of racial and culturally-based violence that starts with (in people’s memories) the 1961 massacre of 40-some protesting Algerians and continues up to this day with incidents in 2005, a riot in March, and more just recently.

There’s some really fascinating stuff coming out of this conflict and the urban ghettos of France. Parkour is perhaps the most famous thing, along with French hip-hop. But there are many pro-active forms of resistance happening, many not directly related to the urban immigrant populations, but inspired by their forms of resiatance, such as UnterGunther breaking into the Pantheon and restoring the ancient clock there over the course of a year, based out of a secret workshop they built there, under the noses of the guards. That is way awesome.

So I kinda want to write a game that takes a slightly exaggerated perspective on this whole movement in urban resistance (without having it become too much like a bad Luc Besson movie), but set in real-world France with all the social, racial, political, economic, and cultural issues intact. I want the main characters to be displaced traceurs, immigrant youth who are told that they don’t belong, but who are trying to create an identity for themselves and work for a better social and political environment in constructive but often illegal ways. Chase scenes would replace combat as the core action of the game, so you’d use your “kewl powerz” to flip over obstacles and escape the police… after you’d just finished clandestinely building a playground for children on undeveloped public property in the projects. Yes. I wanna play THAT.

Hmm, clearly I need to contact some French game designers for help. Where’s Jarome Larre when you need him? :)

EDIT: As I just told Elizabeth, it’s fun playing people who are so fed up with injustice that they become vigilantes (cross reference: Black Panther Party). It’s like being a superhero, but a real-life one. And because it’s real and the consequences, issues, and people are real, there’s an edge to the violence and a real sense of subversion.

3 Responses to “Déplacement: A Game About Artful Résistance”

  1. DevP Says:

    I’m very much interested in this kind of setting. It sounds fantastic. Strongly recommend listening to Asian Dub Foundation for related themes in a different place.

    I’d myself lean towards a fictional setting for this kind of conflict, but I can see how that may seem kinda weaksauce.

  2. You have a good point about this not just being a French thing. We could always subtitle the game “Artful Resistance in Fortress Europe” or something like that. Asian Dub Foundation is way cool. Thanks for the ref.

    Honestly, I think a fictional setting, even if it’s an exaggeration of the real situation, as in V for Vendetta, would water down the immediacy. But you can drift it that way, if you want.

    What kind of system, do you think? Maybe a TSOY/SOTC remix hack?

  3. Brand Says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    If I can help you about anything, please feel free to ask and to send an email. I am very surprised about this game I have never read anything about it before but I will be glad to help.


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