Unmanned is the latest release from the Italian game designers Molleindustria, who aim to ‘free video games from the dictatorship of entertainment’. Their other productions include Phone Story, ‘an educational game about the dark side of your favourite smart phone’: you have to use armed guards to threaten Coltan miners in central Africa to increase their productivity and catch suicidal Chinese factory workers in giant nets. It isn’t available from the iPhone app store.
Unmanned, rendered in blocky, lo-fi graphics, examines a day in the life of a disaffected suburban drone pilot. You wake from a strange dream, shave, and drive to work through the Nevada desert, where you fly your drone and flirt with your co-pilot. You decide whether or not to kill a terrorist before taking a break to call your wife and smoke a cigarette. After work you go home and play shoot ’em ups with your Ritalin-addled son. Along the way you are awarded medals for ‘outstanding introspection’ or ‘legion of karaoke commendation’. The gameplay is numbingly repetitive: shaving, driving, smoking and blowing up suspected terrorists are all conducted by taps or mouse-clicks on a split screen.