By way of law, a ‘castle doctrine’ gives a person the right to defend themselves in their own home against someone breaking and entering using force. The Castle Doctrine, a game developed by Jason Rohrer is based upon this notion.
The game, released earlier this year, is massively-multiplayer online with all active players terrified of one another and who are each fully aware of the existence of the others around them; which is the key reason they play.
The idea, as hinted above, is centered on ‘castle law,’ whereby each player has to safeguard their home, family, and fortune from unruly neighbors (other players) who walk in and try to take all of it for themselves by making it a death-trap. Of course, your ambitions follow along the same lines, as you attempt to do the very same.
Starting off in this insubordinate and grim dystopia you are given your own roof to uphold, and therein is a security box with $2000 in it, and your family beside it; a wife, and children.
Your mission is to secure your household so that intruders are caught and die a painful death (as horribly macabre as that sounds). The tricky part in this is that while you get to the scheme of things, you must make sure that the maze you hammer out has an escape method so that both you and your family can get through it unharmed in the wake of your peril.
Watch the official trailer; it’s sure to leave you disturbed >
So what is the dark reality of The Castle Doctrine?
There are several things about this games concept which are deeply psychologically unnerving, and it reminds me of the film The Purge (2013) in some respects.
Probably the most frightening of all, is that this is a game that will generally intrigue people into playing it, and why? Why would you want to play it?
I’ll admit I am also intrigued but can’t imagine or understand, based on my own moral conscience, why I would ever want to play something as sinister as this. For one, this game, like many others, portrays women in such a backward light. Ultimately, the game objectifies us by the way the men place us in their homes and build around us in an attempt to keep us locked into a dark and terrifying world where we will most likely be brutally murdered. What’s more is the notion that it’s okay to enter into someone else’s home and destroy their lives in order to better your own.
But I think what Rohrer achieves with this game goes beyond anything we ourselves could imagine as real. I think the dreamlike graphics reflect this. The characters have no faces. Rather, the game brings us to a darker place of the human psyche. A place where greed takes over, where it becomes the reason we diminish and survive; where we give in to inner anxieties and desperation in order to make any attempt to salvage anything we truly own.