I became aware of SPINNORTALITY with ALEXIS KENNEDY’s mailing list. I like his creative output and his definition of interesting often matches mine so I checked it out. As far as I know this is the first game of their “free mentorship scheme”. After I read the steam page description I felt sorry for not knowing it before. Its creator is JAMES PATTON and he developed it in three years. Amazing!
This game lets us play as a founder of a company, create horrific products and take over the world by our influence. That is one of the possible endings by the way. We can also make the world a better place but that seems hard. Because game enforces any good corporation’s bottom line: Making profits. To do that we can manipulate politics, deregulate industries, launch black ops and so on. What I like most is that we are not playing as an eternal person. We can die from old age. There are ways to extend this of course. An inconvenient thing like death should not stop us from making profits, no?
Research, Marketing and Eventually… Profit!
To make profits we launch products worldwide. In the world of Spinnortality this means launching a product in eight continents. Because the governments formed continental unions. This simplifies the gameplay as well.
We create products first by researching the general concept. After that, we “invent” marketing angles. Our interns and salarymen are our researchers and inventors. Interns are cheap but prone to resign, salarymen are expensive but they don’t go away. There are other worker types too. You’ll know them as you progress.
To explain the research & marketing process, let me give Social Media as an example. It is the first item in Social: Online research tree. When you research it with success game gives you one random marketing angle. Let’s say Never alone it is.
The angles interface with the continental governments’ cultural values to market our products. They have 8 cultural values ranging from Individualism/Collectivism to Xenophobia/Multiculturalism. Our way of marketing plays with those values to make our product as successful as it can. We can use a class connection to do a “Focus Testing” to see our spin’s cultural dependence if we want to be sure. Or we can guess by reading the definition and think which values it will use. Succesful guessing (five star launches) shows that and increases our board approval. This approval is important because the board of governors are your bosses. They took you in the office and have the power to remove you. The game’s storyline involves them as well. Besides being a plot device they also give you missions with awards as well.
Connections, Inefficiency and Corruption
I mentioned class connections. We have three types of connections in the world of Spinnortality: Military, Class and Cyber. We use military connections to do military actions. Class connections enable us to do focus testing and other corporate business. Cyber connections are there to do cyberspace related stuff. People wise, they are soldiers, suits and hackers. We get a fixed amount of these connections per turn. We increase this amount by building Security Academy, Business School and Tech Institutes.
Inefficiency and Corruption are our primary problems. I mean besides taking over the world and making the Board of Directors happy. Inefficiency increases by resigning people. It results as delaying our research times. Corruption makes us gain less money each turn. To combat corruption we make an internal investigation by spending 3 class connections. For inefficiency we can do an Efficiency restructure with 3 cyber connections.
Let’s discuss agendas. Agendas are steps on the long-term plans game provides us to win the game. They are not the only ways to finish it by the way but the big four is:
- Imperial Victory: Ruling the world with an iron fist. Everybody OBEY THE FIST!
- Consumerism Victory: Using governments to rule the world. Indirect but gives the illusion of being free to the people.
- New World Victory: Governments? Corporations? With Corpornations what’s the difference? And guess who has the most shares in each one of them?
- Humane Victory: Leaving the world a better place than we found it. (VERY HARD TO DO)
Some agendas provide more than one victory bonus. Rapid Taskforce, Black Ops’ first agenda item, gives us one points in both Imperial and Humane Victory. Also some of them opens new ways to interact with the world. Rapid Taskforce enables us to do civilian espionage operations within countries for example.
There are many, MANY, more things to do in the game. You can change cultural values with media; make laws better for you by influencing political parties and elections; and even go to space. These are some things I’ve done in my first playthrough. Its interface makes it easy to understand what is going on and decreases complexity. Another thing to note is its tutorial. It does a fantastic job of explaining every concept while not bogging you down with minutiae. It pops up when the game introduces a new concept or a new way of doing things and gets out of the way when it finishes its job.
I interpret this game as a criticism of our times. Who can say that companies don’t manipulate our opinions by their products? I mean do we know how many wars have “protecting trade interests” as their original casus belli?
As a final note I can say Spinnortality offers a fresh outlook on the cyberpunk genre. This is the other side of it, where we don’t play the people in fringes but the corporate mind. Our tools aren’t weaponry, violence and mayhem but economy, indirect approaches. If s__t hits the fan we can use spectacular direct interventions too! Like shooting a gigantic laser beam from the moon for example.
The defining moment of Spinnortality for me was musing about why the world isn’t spiritual enough and use my media power to make it a more spiritual place. Beause I had several spins using spiritualism as their base. I wanted more profits because I wanted to build a moonbase for that moon laser. I want a moon laser!
Its Steam page is here. I recommend it with high praise!