american dream

All In on Michael Jackson

Stephen Levelle, Terry Cavanaugh, Jasper Bryne, Tom

A consortium of Irishmen make a game earnestly satirizing the "american dream" through the gameplay of simplified financial trading and fashionable item purchases, while an American of Irish ancestry living in South America writes a review.

The game involves buying and selling different 80s celebrities for profit, and also buying new furniture for your (presumably) Manhattan apartment (Upper East side but you're thinking about moving to the West side). Some of these people I've never heard of and likely neither have you, which lends to the job. There's a certain manic thrill in putting all your cash behind Michael Jackson on a dip and hoping for a pop in the morning.

As far as a trading simulation, this makes trading look all too easy. Everything trades in a range, all you have to do is play mean-reversion and the money rolls in, except when you buy out the latest catalogue of furniture and home accouterments, when your network of high-class porno party animals will drop you hot tips on things about to break-out to new highs. The sketches that follow these parties, as well as all the fast-motion subliminal trappings of the game, are classic Increpare, with absurd, slightly homoerotic phalluses and shutter effects caked on like wet coke over a $20 bill.

The premise is that purely extrinsic motivation, to become a millionaire in this case (no longer cool), is hollowing, and your easy profit flows should speak to that. But then, you find yourself feeling good about judicious calls, the real-time nature of navigating uncertainty in the markets can be incredibly deep gameplay, and the caricature of markets in this game does a good job of giving you that sense of empowerment and ad-venture. When you make your million and revel in the infatuation of having "made it all doing something I love", you may actually feel some tug of meaning in life, quite the inverse of the usual Bret Easton Ellis sort of 80s satire.

Now contrast this with Ireland where a few punters started lending money to other Irish folk to bid up the price of real estate to nosebleed valuations before it all came crashing down and now the EU wants to jam it up their collective asses and the Irish are like "fuck off!"

American Dream, or Irish Wake-up Call? Ah but it is a nice use of gameplay loops to convey a meditation.