Video Game: Black & White
"A land of innocence has no need for gods...until fate intervenes. When people pray, a god is always born. That god is You."
A Simulation Game
released by Peter Molyneux
's Lionhead Studios
in 2001. Sequel released in 2005. Much like the rest of Molyneux's offerings, this game scored superbly with mainstream critics, sold well and left an awful lot of gamers cold when they got their hands on it.
The core concept of the game has you taking on the role of a god, represented by a disembodied hand, ruling over various tribes on various islands. You can pick things up and move them around, and cast miracles by making gestures with the mouse
. You also eventually acquire a Creature, a somewhat autonomous giant animal that can learn various tasks and spells from you.
But the really
cool part about this game is that the environment changes depending on what sort of a god you are. A god who sends rainclouds to the fields, heals the sick, builds homes for the people, and gently converts neutral or enemy villages with cute doves will eventually rule a land suffused with light, where rainbows arc the sky and trains of sparkles follow the god's hand, and your Citadel, or temple headquarters, becomes a white Disney-esque tower of beauty and joy. For a god who decides to sic wolves on neutral or enemy villages, make your subjects worship you until they die, feed the corpses to your Creature, then throw around a few fireballs for light relief... the sky will start to grow dark and threatening, the hand will become demonic
and followed by noxious smoke, and the temple will grow spikes and generally look really badass. Interestingly, you can train your Creature to either follow your morality example to the letter, or be your complete opposite. The Creature's appearance will change, too, with its behavior (for example, a horse trained to be good will become a super-sparkly unicorn, while an evil horse becomes dark-colored and monstrous-looking
At least, this was the idea.
The major complaints about these two concepts was that players found if they wanted to be good
gods, they had to do absolutely everything for their worshippers, who couldn't even wipe their own behinds without divine intervention. Evil gods had to be constantly spreading fireballs and terror all over the place; they had to be the meanest, most fearsome gods in the land and couldn't be nice for even one moment to anybody.
There was little middle ground; being anything inbetween resulted in not being nice enough to be constantly loved, yet not being fearsome enough to ensure worshippers were too scared to worship anybody else. Additionally, if you took your attention off your Creature for more than five minutes, it started defecating all over the place and even chowing down on it.
The sequel, Black & White 2
, added a significant wargame element where players could decide if they wanted to be defensive or offensive rulers, defending their cities from oncoming attacks or taking the invading armies head-on, in lieu of the usual god-game elements. The sequel also addressed many of the most vocal complaints about its predecessor, such as the unwieldy building interface.
Not to be confused with Pokémon Black and White
or the Michael Jackson
song "Black or White," or the 2012 film This Means War
(which is titled Black & White in Japan
). There is also a Taiwanese series by the same name: the link is here
The game contains examples of: