Not all dystopias are created equal.

Tyrants and totalitarian regimes are commonplace in many video games. But you need to distinguish between games where there is something about totalitarianism, from games in which strict rules and ideology are a fundamental part of the gameplay and game decisions that you can see on F95Zone. Mind Scanners claims to be a psychiatrist simulator. The action takes place in the metropolis Structure, where order and efficiency are most important. Technical innovations are appreciated and actively developed in him, but at the same time the number of mental anomalies is growing. Your hero must fight with them.

Games often allow us to play around with a hypothetical situation. For example, imagine a world with technologies that easily transcend the boundaries of what is permitted. Mind Scanners  – the fruit of such a thought experiment, which the game is in a hurry to inform in a simple title. Gameplay easily becomes a chore, because, like in  Papers, Please , putting the stamp “Normal / abnormal” is much easier than thinking about the fate of another person.

In theory, such a game should stimulate reflection, help to look more critically at what is happening in society. However, the problem with Mind Scanners and almost all similar games is that we are offered to work, fight and suffer in a frank caricature of a totalitarian society.

Yes, stereotypes are important for creating atmosphere or for easy guessing of context. But they are often stupid and can spoil the impression. Mind Scanners seeks to convey to the player the feeling of a small person who, in his place, can either resist the system, or obey it with almost inevitable remorse. It would seem that such an experience is not only interesting for immersion in the details of totalitarian reality, but should also give you the determination to defend your principles.

In fact, the stereotype “Totalitarianism is something bad” allows one to perceive oneself as an unconditionally moral person. If they are bad, then I am obviously good, even when I am forced to do evil. Creating real moral engagement at the risk of guilt  is a daunting task.

System with a capital letter

Mind Scanners doesn’t provide a backstory – you just find out that everything is run by an organization called Structure (synonymous with system). The rest is obvious from the name: she controls people and seeks citizens with anomalies. And so that you do not inadvertently imagine that your task is to do your job well, without reflection, an additional element is introduced – a sentimental (spoiler: no) story about a daughter who was taken away and will be studied at the Institute. And so that you suddenly do not think that this is for her sake, you are informed that you cannot see her.

It is not difficult to understand that “Structure” immediately evokes a feeling of something hostile to feelings and emotions. It soon reveals itself in the very essence of your work. The authors’ idea is simple: people have different weirdnesses: some of them are artificial, some are part of a person’s character or experience. In the descriptions and dialogues, we are hinted that some “jumps” are harmless (although “Structure” does not like them), others are harmful or dangerous for the person himself or his environment.

The fight against the system became a commonplace for any countercultural movement, but the ideas of the Frankfurt School were the source. For example, the philosophers Theodor Adorno and  Max Horkheimer in Dialectics of Enlightenment directly stated that the path of reason is an attempt to subjugate nature, including inner passions and feelings. And  Herbert Marcuse in “Best grenade spots dust 2” directly predicted the tendency of any system to totalitarianism and at the same time an attempt to make everyone happy.

Eradicating anomalies

Mind Scanners interprets psychological research and treatment in a unique way. GamePay is structured so that we have to reduce people’s comments about Rorschach spots to standardized estimates, and then define the essence of the weirdness. For example, we will meet an overly enthusiastic journalist who cannot stop at anything. Each time you have to find the border between health and insanity.

Treatment is similar to the torture mechanics found in other games (like This Is the Police ): you have to do strange manipulations with different devices, keeping an eye on your stress levels. Therefore, even when the healed person thanks you, doubt remains. It’s like you made him thank you for something he didn’t want. Although it is easy to imagine a player who sees himself as a savior. At the same time, a number of dialogues turned out to be very interesting and even unexpected, which is quite similar to the work of a psi specialist.

The eternal struggle of light and darkness

Most interestingly, the mind in the game is presented as a dubious (somewhere manic) craving for universal utility and control. This strongly resembles the effect of McDonaldization , in which a kind of madness of reason and dehumanization of a person grow out of a craving for functionality.

Since Antiquity, the mind has been compared to the light of the sun, so the Resistance in the game is called Moonrise. Like Equilibrium , an important conflict in the game Destructive Wave 5e is the opposition of living feelings and human weaknesses to the demands of reason. This allows us to recall Nietzsche , who distinguished between the Apollonian and Dionysian principles in culture, and argued that the dominance of the desire for reason and order deprives the culture of life and makes it mechanistic, which happened to some of your patients.

What have we learned about totalitarian psychiatry?

In the game, we see a lot of stereotypes about totalitarianism. Nobody hears you above, but there are sympathetic people below. Unspoken requirements for you and other heroes look meaningless, so there is no remorse from violation (the main thing is not to get caught). As always, special people and dissidents are persecuted, and ideology puts reason and technology above, and not something natural, natural. And behind the words about the welfare and concern for mental health is only the forced normalization of people. And, finally, the world itself is sad, dirty gray, and the combination of yellow, red and green in the interface increases psychological discomfort, as well as somewhat uterine sounds.