Death Stranding and Tacoma are two games that reflect our boring dystopia. They are both concerned with precarious labor, hauling cargo, and data collection, and both feature labor contexts of granular workplace surveillance. In Death Stranding, players are confronted with the constant monitoring of their labor. Sam Porter Bridges, transcontinental porter in a post-apocalyptic United States, grinds away as a subcontractor in a logistics gig economy akin to DoorDash. Every step, rest, and detour is constantly tracked and logged for performance review, thus incentivizing players to optimize play in order to achieve high marks that will streamline advancement in the game. Similarly, one of the first actions players must accomplish in Tacoma is to sign a contract that surrenders their character’s data to the Augmented Reality (AR) system of the fictional Venturis Technologies corporation. Protagonist Amitjyoti “Amy” Ferrier explores the eponymous spacecraft to obtain the artificial intelligence hardware ODIN that will shed light on the mysterious disappearance of its crew, all while reviewing relevant AR footage collected by the system to formulate a clear timeline of events. Thus, Tacoma is a game about auditing a workplace and reviewing collected data. Both games bring to mind the body’s disposability under capitalism, in which bodies must always be either working or recovering in anticipation of further work.
Read the full column at Haywire Magazine.