MCDONALDS VIDEOGAME / Molleindustria / PC
 
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There's a really solid core idea here, but making it move in overly fast real-time is the game's undoing. Another non-gameplay related problem is that a bunch of the points it criticizes McDonalds on demonstrably aren't true.

This independent freeware "activism game" was presumably made without the knowledge or consent of McDonalds. The goal is actually to successfully micromange the company's daily operations, but there's all sorts of implied shots at them in how you do it. It's split up into four screens representing four different business divisions that you have to juggle simultaneously; the agricultural operations (beef and soy production), the slaughterhouse, the actual restaurant (hiring staff) and the corporate offices. You have to constantly flip between tasks like removing diseased cows from the slaughterhouse before they get snatched up into the meat grinder, rewarding or firing restaurant employees and responding to environmentalist protests with PR campaigns.
 


The whole thing rattles along at breakneck speed, and it's all just too much to keep up with. Most game sessions will end with you bankrupt in somewhere between 2-5 minutes. There's the core of a decent Farmville-like experience here, but the pacing is awful; had it been turn-based or even just a little slower, it would have been immensely more playable and even enjoyable.

That's the common pattern with the activist game, though; message first, gameplay a distant second, and they end up subverting their own message because no one wants to sit around and bother with the crappy game. This one is actually worse than usual on the message count, however, because it's implying McDonalds does a bunch of stuff they don't actually do. For example, the implication that all their beef comes from South America somewhere, where they've bribed the local mayors to take away from the local food supply; it should be patently obvious to anyone with their brain turned on that this is bullshit, because how do you make the economics of a $1.25 burger work when you're shipping meat internationally? McDonalds beef comes from the country it's sold in. In the United States at least, that means it's regulated by the USDA, which in turn means that the game's implication that McDonalds feeds cow parts to other cows is also bullshit, as that's illegal here. The cows also don't eat genetically modified soy, or even non-modified soy; they eat corn grown in the United States.

There's LOTS of room to legitimately criticize McDonalds. The negative environmental impact of maintaining a huge fleet of cows just to make subpar burgers and the waste the whole process generates, for starters. The way they treat their employees and contribute to economic stratification. Their contributions to the obesity crisis by marketing to children and making deceptive nutritional claims. All very valid points of attack. Molleindustria instead chooses the sensationalist and intellectually lazy route, repeating the sort of lurid and breathless claims that get published on mentally unhinged "radical greenie" fringe blogs without even cursory fact-checking. Lying to people doesn't hurt the company you're criticizing, it just makes you look like an attention-whoring douchebag when they take five minutes to do the basic verification of these claims that you couldn't be bothered to.
 
 
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