Today, while I was trawling on twitter, I saw this interesting video game article linked. It was entitled "Castro rebel videogame is huge hit in Cuba." This headline instantly drew me in because it had three things going for it, it was about video games, Fidel Castro (I have more respect for him than Che), and the role of technology/art in a leftist based society like Cuba. While the article is short, it is just the audio transcription of the video report, this is not the 1st time I have heard of the gaming culture in this small Island nation.
A couple years ago I remember a thread popping up on Teamliquid.net, the biggest Starcraft community site around, about a small isolated group of players from Cuba, of all places. This land of the accursed, as we are told by our government, have been under an embargo from the United States since the 60s, and the country of course has surrendered economic advance for the welfare of the people, so things like fast internet speed and high end PCs are rare. This though made Brood War a great game for the youth, since it does not require a new computer or internet, players can play directly through LAN. While this may be a shock to many Americans, where we are told are our whole lives Capitalism= Fun and Good, while Socialism= Boring and bad, where things of necessity, which give people a lot of self importance, have such a high value. But the truth of the matter is, the newest items we see on the shelves now, the Cubans, will see in some form in 10-20 years. Also Starcraft is such a great game, a great games will find themselves a community in any place, as long as people have food and power.
The game though that this article is on is a homegrown Cuban game, which is super interesting, as we see the party ideology at work here. Instead of being a game that is purely being played for recreational and sport reasons, this "Gesta Final" title is a state sponsored historical shooter, that inserts you into the Guerilla war that put Castro into power. The developer states that kids like games, and what way better to educate the teenagers about the history of their country through a First-Person Shooter, a popular genre amongst PC gamers. Glorifying war is another debate, but I guess the older generation of Cubans would like to show the sacrifices their forerunners made to overthrow the military regime back in 1959. This combination of art and revelation is something that I think all great pieces of work should have, as multitasking through mediums is an effective and productive usage of time. It is interesting to me because this is what I kind of envisioned as valuable resources in the pop culture field when I took my Philosophy of Art class. Infusing things that young adults enjoy with revolutionary ideas . Like in the United States, we get the US military pouring money into their own game like America's Army, which tried to simulate modern warfare to draw in potential virtual trigger happy recruits, and throwing tons of money into advertisement and gaming organizations like MLG (Major League Gaming) to attract the same crowd. Games, like all art, have been used for political purposes, but fuck the people who try to use it to recruit more people into the armed forces of the US empire. With the advent of technology reaching new heights in military application, see drone warfare, video games and real life may be one in the same.
While the game's graphics look at least 10-15 years old, and these media outlets may be exaggerating the popularity of the game within the youth community, it is an interesting thing to see. Here's a screenshot of the action.