'Easy Level Life' Is A Video Game For #BlackLivesMatter
Seldomly do video games provide commentary on race issues in America. One of the main reasons I enjoyed Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas so much was because of its narrative: a story of a black man that gets thrown in questionable circumstances, and tries to make something of himself while having to be a pawn of the police. The game was essentially a commentary on the 1992 Los Angeles riots, critiquing the tense relationship between police officers and people of color — specifically black people.
Although an indie game Easy Level Life is providing a commentary on that same problem. Designer yvvy, a black woman who’s a part of DE Team (the group made a video game for Prince following his passing), is currently creating Easy Level Life which, judging by GIFs taken from the game, perfectly captures the day to day struggle of dealing with cops as a black person.
With any game the goal is completion — to win. As yvvy poignantly shows through Easy Level Life, you can’t “win” against police brutality. “The closest thing to a win condition where police brutality is concerned, is simply not being the wrong skin color,” Yvvy told Kill Screen. “The game is the same way.”
The game puts you in the control of a middle schooler who comes across a man being beaten by three cops with nightsticks. You’re given several choices on what you should do next but no matter what you choose the outcome is the same: you get shot. Upon dying the newspapers proceed to paint the middle schooler as a threat.
In Easy Level Life there’s so much being critiqued: the use of excessive force on minorities by cops; the dangers of being both a passive and active onlooker in situations of police brutality; and the media’s portrayal of victims of police violence. Even the character’s design is a form of commentary. You can’t help but think of the shooting of teenager Tamir Rice: an innocent 12-year-old boy wrongfully shot to death by an officer.
According to screenshots yvvy has put on her Twitter, the game will also give you the option of playing as a white character (you can obviously see where she is going with this).
Considering the recent deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police brutality, it’s important to have games like this because they don’t exist on either the mainstream or indie level of the video gaming industry. Stories like this need to be told and it’s refreshing to see someone like yvvy doing that with Easy Level Life.