In Culture Overlord the player selects which media items the game’s protagonist, Dan, encounters. What book will Dan read? What website will he visit? What advertisements will he watch? And what impact does this have on Dan?
This media literacy game has two modes: Discovery Mode and Edu Mode. In Discovery Mode, the player can focus on the narrative and gameplay. In Edu Mode the player receives additional in-game information during the breaks between the game’s three acts. Players are advised to play Discovery Mode on their first playthrough so that they can focus on the game experience. On subsequent playthroughs, playing in Edu Mode provides insight into the role played by selecting different media items to help better understand the importance of media literacy.
It’s good to note that Dan, as stated by his friend Sandro, “is highly influenceable.” As such, if Dan sees an advertisement for an “electric bike” then that is what he will purchase. If he listens to a song after a breakup, then the lyrics for that song determine how Dan responds to the end of that relationship.
The game’s purpose, as described on the website CultureOverlord.com is to promote healthy dating relationships and media literacy. More specifically, “to encourage players, especially young people, to consider what impact movies, books, songs, games, websites, and more has on them.”
As explained by the game’s website, “media literacy is not taught in classrooms very often” and “fewer than one-third of states include media literacy in their education standards.” Similarly, healthy dating relationships is rarely taught in classrooms.
This is the first time we’ve seen both important topics addressed in one video game!