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The Best Games That Tackle Class Divide (Like That Movie Parasite)

Frostpunk (2018)

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The only game on this list that I haven’t played before, Frostpunk is a city-building/survival strategy game that bears more similarities with Bong’s Snowpiercer than Parasite thanks to its wintry dystopia. But like most, if not all, dystopian fiction (including the original Deus Ex), it still touches on class.

In the base game, you are in charge of the last city on Earth. In the face of an ice age that has overtaken the globe, you have to make use of steam-powered technology to ensure your community’s survival.

In an interview with PC Gamer, Frostpunk lead designer Kuba Stokalski said that the 19th Century was a major inspiration for the game.

“It was a period of social stratification with masses of the workers, the Luddites rebellion against the machines, and what happens today with artificial intelligence taking jobs, basically.”

The divide between lower and upper classes can be seen in the Refugees scenario. In a paper titled “A climate for change: millenials, science, and the humanities”, authors Elliott Honeybun-Arnolda and Noam Obermeister wrote that in the scenario, “the player leads a refugee group to a generator reserved for the wealthy and attempts to create an egalitarian society but is quickly confronted with the re-emergence of social classes”.

According to the wiki, the higher class lords arrive after the initial waves of refugees. The developer update from April 2018 explains the enmity between the classes:

“We were condemned to die with the rest of the common folk when London was destroyed. But we rose up. We commandeered the ships that were meant to carry the wealthy to safety and sailed north. Here we found a Generator and claimed it for ourselves. Now we must gather all our people in this new city before the lords arrive to rob us of our freedom again.”

Letting the lords into the city triggers the Class Conflict event. It begins with a lord using his noble status as justification to cut in line. Things escalate after that, and whether you manage to bring about a peaceful co-existence or a darker end depends on your handling of the situation.

The Last Autumn DLC, set before the main game, emphasizes the class divide within your main population, namely between the engineers and workers. As PC Gamer‘s Rachel Watts explained in her preview: “The underlying tension between the two groups can force you to pick a side, echoing the faith vs order decisions in the base game. Supporting one or the other will yield different advantages and consequences.

“You think a child workforce was bad enough, now you have to decide if you want to sign off on a group of strikebreakers employed to inflict violence against workers who just want better working conditions”.

NEXT: Dishonored

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