Water Cooler Games served as the web's primary forum for "videogames with an agenda" — coverage of the uses of video games in advertising, politics, education, and other everyday activities, outside the sphere of entertainment.
The site was maintained at watercoolergames.org from 2003-2009, where it was edited by myself and Gonzalo Frasca. It is now archived here in full.
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Friend, theorist, and author Alex Galloway, working with several collaborators under his software art shingle RSG, recently created a cracking digital version of Guy Debord's Kriegspiel, a little-known board game created by this famous Marxist and key figure in the Situationist International. Debord is best-known for his influential book Society of the Spectacle, about the intersection of capitalism and mass media. But Debord also became interested in games in the 1970s. During this time he designed Kriegspiel, a strategy wargame, and wrote a book about the game, recently translated into English as A Game of War. The book focuses on a single session between Debord and his wife Alice rather than a general description of the game's dynamics or strategy. Galloway has been writing about the game at the same time as he's been developing the digital version.
A lot of thought went into the adaptation, along with a number of difficult decisions. These included whether or not to make the computer automatically calculate and display the lines of communication that human players would have to calculate in their heads (they chose yes) and whether or not to include an AI player (they chose no). The implementation is both functional and gorgeous, thanks to a thoughtful 2D and 3D visual design.
Here's the kicker. Galloway has been served a cease and desist by the attorney representing Guy Debord's widow. It's too early to tell what will happen next, but as Liz Losh points out, Galloway's situation bears some similarity to that of popular Facebook app Scrabulous. The irony, of course, is the estate of a dead Marxist pursuing litigation over the exchange value of the name and image of its intellectual property.