A Tax Day Video Game… IR(S)RSLY

I’m not one for politics.  I’d rather read YouTube troll comments for eternity than be subjected to any sort of government policy debate on Facebook.  That’s just how I roll.

But, this — THIS, is intriguing.

Tax Evaders is here!!  That’s right, your very own Tax Day video game!!  AREN’T YOU EXCITED?!  Dude, this game is almost as exciting as ACTUAL TAXES!!  A knock-off of Space Invaders, this game is all about the accountability and responsibility of paying taxes. More specifically, calling out giant corporations for not paying taxes.

The iconic aliens from Space Invaders have been named after notorious institutions like Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and Exxon Mobile.  You play as the ground missile, a.k.a. group of outraged US citizens, collectively sending the power of demanding fists (!!!) up into the sky to smack around the Big Bads.  If you succeed, “Revenues” will fall out of the evil alien companies and replenish our public services. But be careful, the Government will try to resurrect their deep-pocket buddies by fixing capitalism with more capitalism:


This wasn’t meant to be just some lil online bitty game or mobile app.  This was an attempted nationwide movement.  Tax Evaders was projected onto “enemy” buildings across 10 cities for Tax Week.  Using Illuminator technology with Xbox Kinect and Nintendo Wii-motes, hundreds of strangers gathered, on the sidewalks of New York City, and played together — united as citizens — battling corporate greed.  Check out this footage from the Union Square CitiBank in Manhattan:


“Gaming is a media, not a genre.

That’s a quote from Gan Golan, coordinator of the national Tax Evaders project, who recently gave an interview to Forbes.com about using video games to send a message.  Just like films and books, Golan correctly assesses the obvious, “Games are a great place to tell stories, exchange ideas, and challenge the prevailing ideology.  It can be a pre-figurative place, where we can witness ourselves taking the kinds of actions we need to take in the real world.”  In other words, Tax Evaders aims to use the ideology of video games as a media, in order to “educate” us as gamers, so we’ll then come back to “real life” transformed into well-informed citizens.

Also, (big surprise) social media is all hooked up in this Tax Day extravaganza, allowing you to “Twitter Bomb” the Evaders for evading taxes by tweeting pre-generated statements like: “GE has more money offshore than any other U.S. corp: $108 billion. Hey @GeneralElectric, pay your taxes! #TaxEvaders bit.ly/16OaOBP”

Gaming for “Good”

I’ve used quotations above because creating “positive change” is the developers’ intention, whether or not you agree with their cause.

This Tax Week publicity stunt of projecting their video game on our nation’s most notorious corporations strived to create a new way of sparking the ever-so-sexy topic of tax policy.  While some forms of gamification actually accomplish their goals of raising money and awareness, like Half the Skyor help others achieve personal resilience, like SuperbetterTax Evaders has a crystal clear agenda tailored for a specific political audience.  With using common video game terms like “targets”, “fire” and “bombs”, I can’t help but laugh to myself.  Aren’t words like these the ones that make people blame video games for violence?  So suddenly, either the “educational society” is finally shedding it’s concerns, or maybe, they’re actually just super angry.  Judging from this quote from Golan in the Forbes interview, I’d say it’s the latter:

OR… how I heard it (courtesy of Tim Robbins puppet in Team America: World Police):

Sure, it’s fun to play a giant game on city streets with random people, but let’s be honest, Tax Evaders wants you to take on the role of an “outraged citizen”.  And I’m not saying you shouldn’t be outraged at estimated tax evasion, I just find this whole thing… intriguing.  Games are playing us.

Playing the Player

Interactive gaming is at once procedural and participatory.  And it seems that Tax Evaders‘ creator Gan Golan is well aware of this fact.  “Gamification” is popping up everywhere, and in some really annoying places.  Just because you can make a game, doesn’t mean you should.  But organizations, companies and the government have caught onto the power of Gaming, and are drowning us with stupid apps and political agendas – tugging at our nostalgic heartstrings with pixel graphics — about taxes >.>  …  <.<

The Disconnect

Final words from Golan:

Riiiiiiight.  You think Gaming is in the hands of institutions with little imagination?  You think these institutions are interesting in maintaining the status quo?  Serious question, Golan:  Have you even ever played Journey or immersed yourself into the social experience of an MMO?  Dude, you actually ended your Forbes interview talking smack about the Gaming industry’s lack of creativity, while bragging about your genius knockoff on one of our culture’s most prolific games. /facepalm

Oh, and while you’re being hypocritical, that “like” button begging us to join your Facebook page, while you’re dissing Facebook for tax evasion, just won the high score for irony.  Sorry, Tax Evaders, you can’t play this player.  But thanks for the laughs on Tax Day!!


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