What the Frack
Make the decision to learn something about fracking.
What the Frack is a single-player, text-based decision-making game that challenges players to get inside the fracking debate. Acting as the state government for a region that has recently discovered a large deposit of shale oil and natural gas beneath its ground, the player must make decisions that impact the economy, environment, public health, and “quality of life” (a combination of the previous three plus public opinion and industry support) of the community.
A series of scenarios are presented to the player, with three different actions for the player to choose from in response. An industry representative and environmental advocate will give their opinions on each of the actions as the player hovers over them, providing voices for the two opposing sides in the fracking debate. After selecting an action, immediate consequences are presented to the player, impacting their overall score.
At first glance, the objective of the game might be considered simply obtaining the highest quality of life score, but What the Frack does not structure any of its answers as particularly right or wrong, and places its greatest emphasis on acquiring information to further engage in the fracking debate as it grows into a prominent issue that communities will have to face. Each scenario is accompanied by several links to websites that represent different sides of the issue, and a “Take Action” button at the end of the game redirects you to a Let Me Google That for You: Fracking page.
Perhaps just as impressive as the content of What the Frack is the process through which it was made. A product of the 2013 Global Game Jam, What the Frack was made in just 48 hours by a team of 4 individuals. The design was affected by several “diversifiers,” constraints chosen by the designers to challenge their skills and shape their game. The game could only take place on one screen, feature absolutely no violence, run without plugins in a browser, and touch on a larger political, environmental or social issue. From the games that participated in that final diversifier, What the Frack was chosen to be featured at the Games for Change 2013 Festival along with four other “Bigger Picture” games.