Review of The Game of War (2009)

Moving picture

Seen in 2017.

An introduction to “A Game of War” (Le Jeu de la Guerre), a board game Guy Debord designed in the 1960s/70s and published in 1987. In its 26 minutes, the film outlines some of the basic design ambitions, but fails to give a clear picture of the rules or gameplay.

Situationist trolling. Produced by “Class Wargames”, a pun, which is darkly appropriate. The pompous digressions, philosophical pronouncements, irrelevant literary quotations, pirated movie sequences and humorous musical accompaniment seem designed as a shibboleth for a Marxist intellectual audience with a self-deprecating sense of humour. Like Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle (1974), it is useless for any conceivable practical purpose, including learning about the game as such. This must be intentional and is entertaining—albeit obnoxious—in contrast to the efforts made by serious designers to communicate clearly.

moving picture non-fiction