Not For Broadcast: A very British satire of the Orwellian dystopia

By Mason Quah

IT’S A difficult job being a news editor, and not just when proof reading articles about shrivelled genital rodents. The need to get news out the door as quickly as it is produced makes it very easy to tune out of the actual content that is being covered.

This is one of the main conceits of NotGames’ Not For Broadcast. You are put in charge of the live editing process for a national news conglomerate, working hard to apply good interview cinematography and balance audio quality under an increasingly censorious government.

The game, currently on the second of three planned episodes, boasts strong production values, with a cast of over 80 actors. FMV, or full motion video is a rare sight in modern video games but is a perfect fit for the concept.

Unlike similar games of navigating authoritarian bureaucracy such as Papers Please, Not for Broadcast takes a very tongue-in-cheek approach to its Orwellian surveillance state.

Your first interaction with the radical new government is bleeping out the swearwords in a drunken post-election press conference.

You are not given any direction on how your editorial decisions will influence the narrative, but it doesn’t take a great amount of deductive prowess to identify which choices will take you down a specific narrative path.

The video editing segments are separated by multiple choice text chapters that allow you to peak under the hood of the new regime outside of the narratives that make it to your broadcast studio.

The game’s political representation aims to focus more on tone than policy. The radical Advance Party achieved election success on a platform composed more of populist rhetoric than actual policy and this is something that you are given the opportunity to focus on in your coverage.

While they’re rounding up undesirables and seizing their assets you can publish coverage that highlights the party’s corporate ties or follow their press conferences with adverts from opposition pundits.

A weak point that I felt in my playthrough was the lack of penalty for opposing the government in this way. Disobeying censorship orders and running opposition adverts seems to result in little more than a stern warning from your boss.

This is a rather understandable consequence of making the story open ended: If you lost your job for disobedience than it would restrict the branching paths that the game is based around. As a result the only thing that actually causes you to get fired is losing viewers.

The comedic presentation of the game makes it very easy to underestimate the dystopian world that it presents and for this reason it won’t appeal to everyone.

Despite that, I still wholeheartedly recommend this novel take on the genre of dystopian games.

Not For Broadcast began production in 2017 and currently remains in early access, as the conclusion to its story has been delayed because of the pandemic, which has halted filming of the final episode.

Featured Image: NotGames

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