What the FrackFeature

What the Frack

Release Date: January 27, 2013

Developer: Hao Chen, Bernie Dodge, Kristen Osiecki, Andy Hicks

Make the decision to learn something about fracking.



Play the Game:

Click here

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.

Games for Change 2013 Festival “Bigger Picture Arcade” by Global Game Jam



  1. 5
    Total Game Reviews: 4

    This game has a lot of potential. I wonder if the overview character in the Youtube vid could swap between talking and images of what he is talking about – just flashes. Also I didn’t realise at first that the only part that had been started was the government level and found it frustrating for a link to the next part. Is it necessary to have to read all the links or can bits be skipped? I think it is really cool to have a lot of ‘heavy reading’ done in a more visually interesting way via Youtube. Well done so far… looking forward to playing it when it is finished

  2. 6
    Total Game Reviews: 2

    I liked it because you chose how things would end up, but I didn’t like how it didn’t show what the other options would have done.

  3. 7
    Total Game Reviews: 1

    "What the Frack" offers a look into the local impact and fallout of the natural gas boom in the United States. The current game offers only a demonstration of questions faced by government officials, but promises versions for the leaders of the natural gas industry, and environmentalists.

    The game uses a holistic measurement, a quality of life index, that asks the player to consider the economic, environmental, public health, and public approval of every action. This multi-dimensional approach is a tool encourage the player to take a nuanced and balanced view of each situation.

    After several playthroughs the game seems to conclude in its conclusion that the player has taken a pro-business (and anti-environmentalist) stance, even if the player takes the advice of the environmentalists every turn. If this is a glitch in the game, or it a statement about the intractability of environmentalists in general is difficult to tell.

    Overall, while being a work in progress, "What the Frack" has potential to education students and other citizens about the public policy process and the natural gas boom that has completely shifted the dialogue on energy in the United States.

  4. 7
    Total Game Reviews: 1

    I enjoyed the game, I think the text could be tightened up a bit to improve game play. I would also have liked to have had a timer or clock so I would know how much time I had before the end of the game.

Please Login or Register to write a review.