Sometimes, the most interesting games are also the most controversial. They push the limits of expectations and possibilities, presenting new challenges and opportunities for participatory play. Purity Towers, the latest campaign from Funnel Productions, operated on two levels of controversy. First, the producers created a competitive game environment between two divergent camps: the hegemonic Proscript Party, and the representatives of the underclass, the Grotian Underground. Secondly, the game’s content, while often presented in a light and humorous way, touched upon real social and political issues, including illegal detention and torture, revolutionary change, and political oppression.
The Grotians and the Proscripts were once two antagonistic kingdoms forced to cooperate because of frequent dragon attacks. When the dragons were finally defeated by Edward Jameson, a mythical hero and ancestor of the last Proscript President, the Grotians were in worse shape than the Proscripts. According to the mythos, the Grotians agreed to become the servant underclass of the Proscripts, and for several generations the People’s Proscript Party (PPP) ruled over the “Proscription Zone.”
One day, the Grotian Underground (GU) started recruiting players. A luxurious Party-owned residence, Purity Towers, was about to open its doors, becoming a landmark in “The Proscription Zone.” The GU defaced the Purity Towers website, and a high-ranking Party member encouraged players to create their own GU cadre, resulting in a ning network, an underground newspaper, and the blogs of two symbolic leaders, Levi Waltershield and Rosa Wells. To complicate matters, two recurring Funnel Productions characters, Earl de Rosa and Randy Porknut got a contract to sell Sticky Itchers Shower Scrub to Purity Towers. Randy recently recovered from a bout of undeath from a previous game while Earl, in his drunken grief, got married in Las Vegas and misplaced his new bride. Inspired by this, a GU player starred as Earl’s lost wife, Bertha Marie Effenberger. Making some heartfelt videos, Bertha’s mission was to get Earl to sympathize with the Grotian side and infiltrate Purity Towers while delivering Sticky Itchers Shower Scrub.