Weblog: The colonial, non-colonial, and decolonial in video video games
The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community. The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company. I've been thinking a lot about colonialism, both in and out of video games, for my work on Syphilisation, my upcoming 4X game…

The following blog submit, unless in another case eminent, used to be written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.

The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the author and no longer Gamasutra or its mother or father company.

I have been pondering quite a bit about colonialism, both in and out of video video games, for my work on Syphilisation, my upcoming 4X game in which you play one in all a community of students writing a file on Winston Churchill. It’s likely you’ll perchance well be taught the manifesto right here and join the mailing list right here.

Complexity of Colonialism

To begin with, colonialism is a huge and complex topic. I’m naturally coming to this from an Indian perspective, which is somewhat diverse from others, such because the Native American one, the African one or the Chinese one. Breaking down the paunchy distinction is bigger than I’m in a position to, but I genuinely feel the variation is value highlighting.

There are a style of things that gain rolled up in colonialism, comparable to industrialization, capitalism and modernization. Whereas the history of colonialism is deeply intertwined with all three of these, I genuinely feel somewhat strongly that they are diverse ideas. Most major to explicit colonialism used to be deep seated racism and the exploitation of native peoples and skating over those substances cheapens any discussion of colonialism. I even think that there could be a nuanced distinction between imperialism and colonialism, but that can luminous be splitting straws and is on the least outside the scope of this text.

The intertwining of all of these ideas even supposing is key to any studying of history. Neither the Meiji Restoration nor the Industrial Revolution had been in themselves fundamentally colonial, but they enabled and had been enabled by colonialism and can not cleanly be extricated from colonialism.

So, we are going to take be conscious of things adore war, expansionism and unbridled consumption as game mechanics that gain adopted a colonial mindset. The categorization is no longer in any respect times ideal, but it quiet makes for an curious pondering level.

A facet-pause of this huge ambit is that you can not paint all of these actions with the right kind identical brush. The colonization of Mars and the colonization of the Americas are very diverse ethically and to lose that nuance may well well be a mistake.

You and the Ambiance

I look the basic distinction between a colonial and non-colonial mindset is in altering the sphere around you versus altering yourself. In actuality, adapting the atmosphere to higher make stronger you or adapting yourself to carry out consume of what you are given. Additionally, direct of being inactive is clearly non-colonial.

It’s value noting right here how crucial scale is by come of discussions referring to the colonial. Pre-colonial of us took a style of actions of the identical taste as later colonizers, but to a notable smaller scale. This distinction drastically adjustments the persona of the action. There could be a large distinction between little scale farming and industrial agriculture, despite the indisputable fact that they both contain the variation of the land to higher producing food.

Religion and Colonialism

Spirituality used to be steadily viewed as a counter to the colonial mindset. By the earlier definition, you may well effortlessly look the method in which it may perhaps perchance well well be non-colonial. Spirituality is fundamentally internal and though-provoking referring to the attain of the self as in opposition to altering your atmosphere to higher swimsuit yourself. Gandhi, Tagore and Tolstoy had been all strong believers in the need for spirituality to counter the imperialistic, industrial mindset of their time.

Nonetheless, religion has been steadily used as a make stronger for all kinds of colonial actions. As an illustration, there are quite a bit of cases of Christianity getting used to clarify colonization in Asia, Africa and the Americas to boot to slavery. Warding off the colonial is just not any longer as easy as luminous instilling a alarm of God in a of us.

Decolonization and Decolonial Mechanics

By the definition above, it follows that decolonization is just not any longer non-colonial. A non-colonial come to a submit-colonial world is to adapt to it. Fixing the sphere to cure its colonialist leanings is to swap it. This obviously does no longer carry out decolonization equal to colonization even supposing. There may be more to a mechanic than merely whether it adjustments the atmosphere. The context is main.

From this, it follows that decolonial mechanics and colonial mechanics obtain their distinction from their semantic values. It’s likely you’ll perchance well carry out a game with quite a bit of the identical systems as a colonial game and carry out it decolonial in a reasonably easy manner by altering the floor.

There’ll naturally be some variations in the come the two video games would play. The buildup of energy that’s so frequent in video games is more difficult to suit cleanly in a game that abjures colonialism. Nonetheless, even this is easy sufficient to carry out match. A game about of us getting freedom from an existing colonizer is decolonial, but will likely be very identical automatically to a game where you colonize an existing empire.

The surroundings is, in spite of all the pieces, of giant significance to the right kind ride of the player nonetheless. Truly taking half in a game about decolonization will genuinely feel very diverse to the player than one which has them colonize. Context is incredibly crucial for these statements and luminous as a consequence of a game has mechanics that can perchance well be automatically equated to colonial mechanics, that does no longer in any come mean that it is colonial itself. There could be a large distinction between looting a native culture for artifacts and reclaiming those identical artifacts from a museum that received them through colonialism. To take be conscious of those two identical would toddle away out the final level.


By the above definition, it may perhaps perchance well well also be said that leather-working is non-colonial as it is a ability that you like in yourself. A leather-working hut on the opposite hand may well well be colonial as a mark on the atmosphere. Additionally, leather-working huts, such because the Tailor in Banished are industrial and the coupling of industrialization with colonialism colors the hut.

The two hypothetical aspects are largely automatically identical as they are both easy foreign money conversion mechanics. Theming is mandatory even supposing. A step purpose is luminous a mathematical purpose, but when it represents your wealth while plundering South The USA, then it picks up colonial overtones.

Non-colonial Mechanics

Understanding mechanics that elevate out no longer gain a mechanical identical that’s colonial makes for an awfully spicy topic even supposing. War is out of the inquire of as is foreign money conversion and crafting. Gardening, comparable to in Stardew Valley or Viva Pinata, is additionally clearly colonial as are the growth mechanics of Starseed Pilgrim.

Search and consume for renewable resources appears to be like adore luminous game even supposing, both for survival video games and for something adore Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor. I adore that game for occasion of the non-colonial. As you play the sport, you be taught more referring to the titular spaceport that you neat and likewise you open learning the most spicy places to sell the stuff that you win up and gain a theory of how notable every thing is value to boot to luminous learning about and being higher ready to navigate the atmosphere.

Additionally, there are quite a bit of video games where the inquire of of colonialism doesn’t genuinely attain up. FedEx quests, conversation mechanics and strolling in Proteus are all mechanics that are orthogonal to this predominant inquire of.

Attractive Extra Thinking Points

Neatly to place particular person video games: I would hesitate to call a neatly off particular person game colonial. Constructing an amusement park or a health center or a drug manufacturing plant in land that you will gain somewhat bought is just not any longer undoubtedly colonial. Especially in the latter two cases, it stretches the term to call filling up a building that you dangle colonialism. It does indubitably wait on the colonial mindset in the method in which it be about modifying an environment, but that’s an awfully diverse thing than proper colonialism.

Tropico: This game is fun to take into consideration thanks to the method in which it combines clearly colonial gameplay with the environment of a little, island republic of the kind that in most cases suffered from colonialism. This dissonance reveals up limited or no in the right kind ride of the sport even supposing, perhaps since the theming is awfully shallow. It’s quiet spicy to display camouflage.

RPG Mechanics: By my definition, RPG mechanics are clearly non-colonial. They are referring to the internal train of the player. Nonetheless, I originate no longer genuinely feel they wait on to the spirit of the definition in consequence of how they in most cases most spicy like your ability to gain an influence on the atmosphere. A non-colonial mechanic that most spicy strengthens colonial systems feels colonial to me.