Airport Security

Emily Short reviews a game that tries to make a point:

While I sympathize with the message of the game, it didn’t really work for me, for two reasons.

First, the game is irritating to play. It’s impossible to undo mistakes (if you accidentally confiscate someone’s pants instead of his shoes, for instance, as I did repeatedly) and the list of banned items is posted at the opposite corner of the screen from the passenger luggage list, which means that you have to look back and forth quite a lot. Many of the frustrations that constitute the “message” of the game result from game design decisions, even screen layout decisions, and not from the system being emulated. This is the game-design equivalent of a rhetorical cheap trick.

Second, the game doesn’t argue the issues. I agree that TSA guidelines tend to be arbitrary and that they don’t make us safer, but this game doesn’t really argue that; it takes these facts as read. It felt more like an exercise in whipping up the indignation of people who already agree with the central premise. There’s much to be indignant about in the American political environment lately, but I don’t think my inconvenience in going through transport security is the most important issue by a long shot.