The game’s title is the first thing that jumps out to the player. It is morphed out of the word “oligarchy” which is a power structure in which the elite class in is control. By changing it to “oiligarchy,” it is implied from the start that the game will deal with the power structure relevant to that of the oil industry. The game’s beginning is rather detailed with text explaining how the game is to be played. Among the instructions, the message of the game becomes clear. Sentences like, “turn that black sticky stuff into gold by any means necessary” set the tone for the game, suggesting that oil is simply “black sticky stuff” and that in order to abstract it, one may potentially cross some moral boundaries. The rules discuss possible threats, such as the “virus of environmentalism” which will provide a restriction to future success and monetary gain. From the very opening of the game, it is clear that the message being conveyed deals with the damaging nature of extracting oil and that something must change.

After sifting through the features and gadgets of the game, one may explore other parts of the world in order to expand the country’s oil reserves. Upon clicking different locations around the world, the scene shows areas of rich wildlife or spots of peaceful, native people. In order to extract the lucrative “black sticky stuff,” wildlife must be killed and native people must be forced to leave. Before taking any actions, a popup box notifies you that it is not a big deal because old-fashioned indigenous people are not going to get in the way of expansion, nor are any “noisy birds” or “stinky caribous.” The blatant disregard for such things shows the game’s attitude toward the oil industry and how they must think. Expansion lies above all else, and if we have to kill animals and destroy human settlements, so be it. The game does a good job of showing that to be reality.

Upon playing a little more, a presidential mini-game came about. In order to win, you must throw the most money at either the democratic party or the republican party. Whichever side gets the most money wins. This was done in order to earn more spending potential on oil reserves. It was an effective way of showing that even though there are many needs in the world, we continue to spend money on electing candidates to continue oil exploration. As a result, more wildlife preserves are being destroyed and more native peoples are being disrespected.

I think that the overall message is conveyed well. I did not play the game to the end, but from what I saw, the message was evident. It used a certain patronizing tone to explain the rules to show that what we currently do for oil is ridiculous. Many things kept happening to reinforce this message and it is clear that the game is attempting to make a political change in how we currently go about oil extraction.

– Kyle

  1. I thought the progression of the game was pretty interesting. Beginning the game you aren’t exactly sure what you will be getting into. You start searching for oil reserves and deploying wells; no harm in that right? Early on oil demand rises, consumers are happy, and the prospects are looking great. Then comes a presidential election and, what better yet, you discover you can throw money towards the campaigns and gain influence in the White House. However, as the years go by, you begin to find trouble with environmental problems and the growing “Green” movement of the people. As a player I began to really take a look at everything that was happening. I had major influence in the White House, I was funding covert missions, and I had oil wells in every possible location on the map. I had turned into a tycoon and was taking whatever measures I could to exert my power and continue increasing my wealth.

    I don’t know the true logistics of the oil industry nor do I even find myself immersed in this political concern, yet having now played this game I feel the need to look more into the matter and become better informed. While I can’t say I am convinced of all the processes and mechanics involved, I can say that there are many things that we have no clue about happening behind the scenes. Good game, thanks for the post.


  2. jmtroop said:

    The first thing that caught me off guard about this game was how well it portrays the corruption in the United States government in regards to money making industries. It really gives you a simplified look at how the oil industry influences politics, in the form of lobbyists and other influences. It is a much more complex flash game that I am used to seeing, and it is interesting to see what the game forces you to do to perform better in the game.

    Oiligarchy puts you in the shoes of a big oil executive, and shows you how “winning” is all that matters and you see yourself corrupting the U.S. government without thinking twice about it. It is easy for us as citizens to see what the oil industry is doing and protest it. But when put in the shoes of somebody who only cares about profit margins and making your superiors happy, you don’t even think twice about displacing native peoples or demolishing forests in the pursuit of winning the game. I found this game to be very fun and interesting as it relies very heavily on social commentary to send a message about the U.S. oil industry.


  3. I find Oiligarchy both interesting and clever. I especially your post Kyle, with statements including “Sentences like, “turn that black sticky stuff into gold by any means necessary” set the tone for the game, suggesting that oil is simply “black sticky stuff” and that in order to abstract it, one may potentially cross some moral boundaries.” I’ve had several conversations with people recently about the recent fluctuations of oil prices, mostly questioning why it is so difficult to use our own oil. Not to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but the U.S. government and oil industry are highly corrupted entities. Oiligarchy is an interesting and fun way to put the subject in conversation safely.

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