The makers of Pipe Trouble, a game pulled from public broadcaster TVO‘s website under severe pressure by media and industry, say their game has been the victim of rampant misinformation and unfairly branded by critics as being an advocate for eco-terrorism. Pop Sandbox, which produced Pipe Trouble, says the game is clearly intended as over-the-top satire — and an engagement tool — that promotes a balanced approach to natural gas development. The game was created to drive awareness about the Six Island Productions documentary film Trouble in the Peace, and prompt a larger discussion surrounding natural gas production.
Video games remain a relatively new medium for exploring topical news stories, and the creators are adamant that much of the controversy would be dispelled through actual play. Negative media coverage has often focused on a 40 second trailer for the game, which includes bombing of the pipelines – one of the extreme game ending outcomes players must expressly avoid in order to win.
In Pipe Trouble, players are tasked with successfully building their own pipeline while balancing environmental and financial considerations in overtly cartoonish situations anchored in real world events that are also featured in the film. Successful balance and meeting both interests is the only way to gain a top score or ultimately “win.” Fines, injunctions, protests and bombings are all very clearly obstacles to success. At no point does a player assume the role of an “eco-terrorist” or engage in any act of vandalism or bombing as has been reported.
The game’s producers also say reports of Pipe Trouble’s links to the David Suzuki Foundation have been inaccurate. The DSF had no role in producing the game. The game’s producers initially decided to donate a percentage of any future profits to the DSF, but that offer has been rescinded due to the ongoing distraction that decision has created. The DSF has not received any money to date.