Sierra Zulu visits IndieCade 2011

The Reds are landing

The International Festival of Independent Games currently takes place in Culver City/Los Angeles. We are paying a visit, because Sierra Zulu will be the first feature-length film that is (at least partially) based on an indie computer game series.

monochrom launched Soviet Unterzoegersdorf: The Adventure Game in 2005 — and a sequel followed in 2009.
We wanted to combine (retro)gaming and (crypto)humor to delve into political discourse. We wanted to harvest the wonderful aesthetic and historic qualities of adventure gaming. It is a commemoration and resurrection, and one more reminder that contemporary gaming (in its radical business-driven state-of-the-artness) should not dare to forget the (un)dead media of the past — or they will haunt them.

Adventure games are nearly extinct, but for many people in the Soviet Unterzoegersdorf team, adventure games are part of their media socialization. For the computer industry it is one of the most successful gaming formats of the past. And for the feminist movement it is proof that a woman — we are talking about Sierra On-Line’s Roberta Williams — was able to shape the form of a whole industry totally dominated by men.

Computer games are embedded in the cultural framework of technological developments. In the study of technological development and creativity, focusing attention on the failure, the error, the breakdown, the malfunction means opening the black box of technology. Studies have convincingly demonstrated that the widespread inability to understand technological artifacts as fabricated entities, as social and cultural phenomena, derives from the fact that in retrospect only those technologies that prove functional for a culture and can be integrated into everyday life are “left over.” However, the perception of what is functional, successful and useful is itself the product of social and cultural — and last but not least — political and economic processes.

To quote Langdon Winner:

Is it not the point of all invention, technique, apparatus, and organization to have something and have it over with? (…) Technology, then allows us to ignore our own works. It is license to forget.

Sierra Zulu wants to continue this thread — in a different media format.