Replica: An Interactive Novel Game Takes On Censorship
A new indie game called Replica, which released on Steam July 11th for $2.99, is about criticizing the Korean anti-terror laws. It is the very first game to take on Korea's anti-terror laws that I have seen release on Steam.
The developer, Somi, made the game in English to avoid being censored by the Korean government due to criticizing the law. If they were to make it a Korean only game, the government may likely censor it all together not allowing it to release. The game mainly takes place on an unknown owners phone in which it is in a locked state, but you do not even know the phone's password.
Do you want to try to unlock the phone? Do you press the emergency call button? What about answering the calls you get from people and messages? You have no clue where you are at in the game as you're in a dark room. The game drops the player into a lot of issues that are big in Korea that most of us may not even see or deal with on a daily basis.
Themes such as civil rights, personal ethics, and national security come into play in this game. South Korea, back in July 2014, were trying to make changes to laws which would affect men around 18 to 35 and who were addicted to video games. Men within that age bracket are required, by law, to serve in the military but, as addiction to video games is considered a real addiction over there, in certain situations these men were exempt from national service. As video games are a big deal in Korea, this was having a drastic impact on the countries military.
Somi was interviewed by Zam.com about why he made this game, and what it had meant to him. He had the following to say below.
“There was a filibuster protesting an anti-terror bill in Korea, The filibuster failed and the bill passed, so it’s now in effect. The bill gives the Korean national intelligence service lots of power. They can inspect and fully surveil many private things like social media and cell phone usage history.”
Somi has been creating video games using an alias to keep his hobby hidden from his co-workers at his own job in Korea, so Replica is an act of silently protesting.
“Many people are on the streets to protest that bill,” he went on, “but I’m a game developer, so I made a game.”
There's a moment in Replica where the player is ordered by a Homeland Security agent to crack a stranger's own locked phone and snoop through it to find any sort of suspicious activities. The agent tries to say the phone was owned by a suspected terrorist, but as you dig through the phone you get concerned calls and texts from the stranger's own friends and family members wondering where they're at, and if they're okay.
If you do dig deep enough, Homeland Security may send the suspect to jail. If you disobey and alert the stranger's loved ones, you may end up behind bars instead. There are 12 possible endings in the game in Replica depending on how the player chooses to proceed, so it does have replayability. A single playthrough takes about an hour to go through.