Is a Gulag an appropriate location/topic for a ChoiceScript game?


#1

I would like to create a CoG game set in a faux-Soviet Gulag, but I see that most of the games are of a sci-fi/fantasy/kind of lighthearted and politically correct nature and maybe geared towards teenagers still trying to figure themselves out. I don’t have a problem with that or anything and completely understand the appeal, but if I were to create mine, it would use the rules of the real world. (I don’t mean it would be excessively violent or cynical or like the Walking Dead where everyone is shown to be awful/a cannibal.) You would guide an inmate through their struggle to survive and maybe even get a chance to revolt. It wouldn’t be sadistic or exploitative, but it would be quite grim. Any topics of sexuality etc. would be along the lines of male inmates falling in love with each other through their joint struggles, and possibly implied or threatened sexual assault by other inmates (okay, it is very grim, but there’s no point in glossing over it either.) All of these topics would be sensitively handled. I would research it well beforehand also, and am about to read the Gulag Archipelago as a starting point. Would a sensitive, well researched game set in a Gulag be a suitable CoG game? Would it have any chance of being published?


#2

First of all, let’s get a bit of terminology straight.
CoG game -> Game made with direct guidance of the company itself, published under their own official Choice of Games label.
Hosted game -> Game which the company itself didn’t (help) create, but made by an independent writer using the ChoiceScript software, which was published using CoG’s Hosted Games label (their secondary label).

You’re talking about a potential Hosted game here, not a CoG game.

Now on to the actual idea.


If you want to get a game like this published, CoG itself might just be the least of your concerns. Their policy is generally a lot more lenient than for example that of Apple. They kick up a fuss from time to time when CoG is trying to get a game published.

If you want to get an idea of what less lighthearted and politically correct games have been published under the Hosted Games label I’d suggest you to take a look at Sabres of Infinity and its sequel Guns of Infinity. While the story is set in a fantasy realm it is far from lighthearted and addresses a lot of the less savory sides of any society, this far mainly focused on things done by an army at war. It’s far from pretty, no matter which approach you try to take in the conflict.

An other recommendation would be to take a look at would be Choice of Rebels, which is still in its development stages. It addresses similar topics.


#3

I’m not COG staff but as long as it’s handled with enough sensitivity, probably.

Would I read it personally? probably not, but that’s because I don’t really want to read fictional stuff that’s close enough to the horrible things that have happened in history and going to make me depressed in my free time. (Reading about things that actually did happen is bad enough without adding to it). It probably answers your question as to why so many games are geared towards more lighthearted or purely fantasy worlds.

Being made to live in harsh conditions in forced labour camps sounds like my idea of a nightmare personally…however, there may be an audience out there for it. Just because I wouldn’t read it, doesn’t mean others wouldn’t so I’d imagine you could go for it.

(I haven’t read it either but there is a story called “Divided we fall” which is set in the spanish civil war. Not sure how graphic is gets or how closely it follows history (someone who’s read it could answer that) but there is precedent for what you want to do I’d imagine).


#4

Thanks for your responses. Yes, I understand it would be quite grim/heavy but it might also be uplifting, and wouldn’t especially rub your face in the horror. I would say it would be less depressing than the Walking Dead, as I mentioned, and people can’t get enough of that. It wouldn’t be about politics or anything, it would just be about people in a grim situation, basically a survival game. Anything iffy could be implied. The reason I like the whole Gulag thing is because you can have shades of grey unlike in a concentration camp where, obviously, you have a lot less room to maneouvre and it’d be hopelessly depressing and almost necessarily exploitative. I’ll check out those mentioned games too, TY!


#5

I see what you’re asking, but “appropriate” isn’t really the right word. There’s no such thing as an acceptable vs. forbidden setting for a ChoiceScript game, and you’d have to try really hard to come up with a game concept that was inappropriate (just in itself, rather than its execution.) As for theme, people have written dark, gritty, realistic and downright horrific games that have been well-received.

There are very few things to avoid: glorification of sexual assault (which you are clearly not trying to do), or other gross misbehavior (e.g., aggressively blatant racism, sexism and transphobia) on the part of the author. Note, that doesn’t mean these things can’t be addressed in the story, as long as you’re not trying to promote “The Glorious Rise of the Master Race: The Game.” (Which again, you’re not.)

So good luck with your project, and I for one will be playing the demo when it comes out. There’s a whole range of fiction here from Sixth Grade Detective, to Zombie Exodus, to something like the WIP Through Broken Lenses (a comedy/psychological thriller about a child soldier returning to high school.) If you write it well, people will appreciate what you’re trying to do.


#6

Thanks very much! I’m mainly a writer of novels (nothing published yet) and this game would be set in the same world of my latest one so there’s a lot of advantages (world already built, some characters already fleshed out). It would be an interesting story, and I haven’t decided yet exactly on how many separate story threads, but there’s definitely going to be one where you’re the inmate, one where you’re the Great Leader (basically Stalin) whose policies shift the inmate’s story, and maybe the inmate’s sister, a sniper, who is going to try rescuing him. I also have some experience in programming so making a hosted game seems like win/win/win for me. Thanks everyone!


#7

This is one of the best written games published to date. As I said elsewhere, it follows (in third person) the stories of various people involved in the Civil War… for example, one person is a Catholic Nurse, another an airplane pilot stationed in Morocco and it really tells their individual stories (there are two other main characters you “control”)… to the point where together they all weave the story of the Civil War.

It is very historical, very realistic (ie one choice has you murdering your superior officer to save the rest of the unit’s lives) but it doesn’t glorify or dwell on war or war’s horrors, it really aims to tell a balanced perspective and to show the shades of grey anyone involved in a Civil War would need to confront.

I do recommend getting and reading it. It also showcases what can be done in Choice-Scripting with images, pictures and “encyclopedic” types of stats.

So definitely check it out @Pat_Bren.

Back to your idea… it can work if you are talented and dedicated enough.


#8

Absolutely go for it. Heck, I published a game about trench warfare in World War I. Same basic approach as Alex’s Divided We Fall – “doesn’t glorify or dwell on war or war’s horrors,” as @Zolataya correctly puts it – but it’s a fascinating subject area to write about. You can create some really interesting stories.


#9

Yes, I love your intro … I am holding out on it hoping it comes to Steam tho… my preferred platform. Nevertheless, your title and the Marine Raider titles are in the same class as the OP wishes his work to be in and so I’d recommend they take a look at these too.

Only thing that bothers me a little is these types of games look to be all hosted - I know CoX(Choice of Rebels) will be CoG but I think there is a lot of room for more titles under both “publisher labels”.


#10

I agree with everyone who’s said that in principle this could be great, and you should give it a shot.

This reminds me of something I’ve wondered since Divided We Fall: @dfabulich, @jasonstevanhill, all else being equal, would CoG ever consider publishing under the official label a historical game told from multiple perspectives (e.g. the centurion in Ch 1, the slave in Ch 2, the emperor in Ch 3) as long as the game took the player through both male and female perspectives?

Or is a single MC with (if the MC is gendered) a choice of sex a requirement to fit the house style?


#11

good question because I’d love to do a project like the three titles mentioned above and this proposed work under the CoG title someday.

maybe a collaboration would be appropriate?


#12

Thanks for your replies everyone! It’ll probably take me a while as I’m writing other things/the aforementioned novel whose world my game would be set in but I’ll definitely give it a shot once I’m done with that!


#13

Dont let these cowards decide what you can and can’t create.


#14

Who’s a coward? I’ll create what I want to create, but CoG doesn’t have to host anything they don’t want to. That’s how the world works.


#15

I think we both know.