VOC: The Game

A friend of mine spotted this ‘VOC Game’ on the website of the city archives of Amsterdam this morning. Though there is no telling how long it’s been up this is another interesting example of how the Dutch deal with our collective history. I mean, why not re-brand crimes against humanity into a game?

The player of this game plays from the point of view of a VOC-governor. With a starting capital of a 1000 florins five journeys have to be made with two ships in order to make as much money as possible. The key is to fill the ship’s hold in the Indies with those products that one expects to sell at the highest price in the harbor of Amsterdam. Keep in mind existing stock in warehouses: if there is too much, profits on the same product will obviously be low. In the worst case scenario [financial] losses could be made. Other financial setbacks include overdue maintenance, pirates and storms. 

So we are teaching our children about the financial hardships of VOC-governors but not about the hardships of the people? Not that I recommend games as a teaching aid for the relationship between the colonizer and the colonized. 

Also note how piracy and storms are classified as financial hardships, no word about the lives lost on that front either.

Don’t know what the VOC was? Read up on history here.

The emphasis on “financial loss” at the expense of loss of human life is no coincidence. The VOC (or East Indies Company) is considered by scholars to be one of the foundational moments of present day global capitalism. The fact that children are encouraged to focus on their profit is just a continuation of the same ethos.

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