aka: Oiligarchy: the slickest business game
Moby ID: 37702


Oiligarchy is a turn-based strategy game played from the perspective of the CEO of an oil company. Starting in 1946, just after World War II, the player needs to scout for oil in Alaska, Texas, Venezuela, Iraq and Nigeria, and set up wells to extract the oil and gain revenue. Selecting actions available from the top of the screen, an area can be explored on land or on sea, oil wells and platforms can be set up, buildings can be demolished and mercenaries can be hired to defend the structures against rebels and natives. Once all actions are set, a play button can be clicked to advance one year in time.

Once more money becomes available, the lobbying at the White House in Washington D.C. starts. Every ten years, an election is held where an elephant party (red) and a donkey party (blue) try to win the most votes. The player can choose to participate in what is visually represented as a real race, by donating. This influences the stance of representatives, which are oil reps, gray reps (undecided) or eco reps. With many oil reps aboard, laws are passed that favour the oil business, while a turn of tide will increase the maintenance costs. Having an "oiled" president also opens up a special operations room, where a regime change in Iraq can be incited (including sending an unlimited amount of troops with no resolve), or a wave of hysteria with planted anthrax can be released to divert the attention from ecological problems. Detailed statistics about oil demand, max recovery, oil addiction, price per barrel, money and gross domestic product are shown in graphs.

When most of the world opens up, politicians are corrupted, local authorities are bribed and installations are heavily defended, the oil addiction will increase along with the demand. If the demand is too low, revenue will slow down, and when it cannot be met the player is fired as CEO.

As profits exceed millions of dollars, environmentalists will gather in front of the White House. This leads to four possible endings where the player is fired, retired, leads society into a global nuclear war when no transition to a post-carbon society is arranged, or a dystopic scenario can be opened where the Western ideals of capitalism fall with an eco-friendly approach. Replacing old wells with human burning plants, it is possible to win the favours of ecologists instead.

The player is also regularly informed through newspaper articles about climate changes, new technologies and scientific studios that sway the public opinion. When addiction eventually reaches its peak and the remaining reservoirs dry up, which is the most encountered scenario, the last World War begins.

Groups +


Credits (Browser version)

15 People (4 developers, 11 thanks)

Designed by
  • La Molleindustria
Sponsored by
  • AddictingGames
AG Executive Producer
Theme Song by
  • Igor
  • Kathleen
  • snafu
  • Jeff
  • Nathan
  • Kyle
  • Zoe
  • Sara
  • Paolo
  • Alessandro
  • All the RPI-ART people



Average score: 3.4 out of 5 (based on 7 ratings with 1 reviews)

Absurd Political Propaganda

The Good
WARNING: This review has politics in it, because it is about a game focused on politics.

Well, as far as I'm concerned, the impending oil crisis is of top concern to this planet, and sadly overlooked. So much so that I view "global warming" to be completely unimportant since it's dependent on humans burning fossil fuels, and our capacity to pollute in this manner is only going to last for, maybe, another 30-50 years. So it's nice to see someone attempting some kind of "edutainment" on it.

And I view this topic as extremely important because the human race can easily adjust to the, what, 1-2 degrees of global warming that might happen over the next century, but if we aren't preparing for the day the earth's oil runs dry, then the global societal and economic collapse that follows will effectively set our race back to zero. That's how important this is.

The game is played with a few areas as seen from the side which are Texas, Alaska, Venezuela, Nigeria, Iraq, and the US Capitol building. The interface is pretty simple, point-and-click stuff where player select tasks and drop them into the play area. Things like surveying for oil deposits, setting up pump stations, corrupting governments or displacing citizens of foreign countries. You play as the evil oil company, and your goal is profit while attempting to meet demand.

For it's message, the game does work in some basic manner, as a flash-based browser title, in that it shows how easily out of control the world gets when oil consumption grows out of control. The world adapts to an oil-based way of doing things, then needs more, so more has to be drilled, which can lead to environmental damage, and then more oil is needed, and governments destabilize, and more is drilled and eventually, more is needed, drilled, and whatnot--but less and less is left.

Call it the "runaway oil economy effect" if you like. Eventually, supply grossly out-weighs demand and things just fall apart. My game ended with a global nuclear war and I, as the oil baron/tycoon (which is essentially who you play as), was at fault for millions of deaths. In this way, the game is actually pretty funny, though....

The Bad
It's not funny in a constructive way. It's more funny because of it's ridiculous levels of absurdity. While you're supposed to be able to finish the game in a four different ways, I don't really understand how any of them are supposed to work since things can so easily get out of hand. So I played it the easiest way, which was constantly throwing money at problems, drilling faster, and generally racing towards the end.

The game seems to make light of problems, and also works to deal a fair amount of bizarre conspiracy theory into its loose narrative. One example is when anthrax attacks are faked by oil companies to, apparently, drive the country to go to war in Iraq. While it is true that there are oil lobbyists in Washington, this game exaggerates it showing what is essentially purchased politicians who do the bidding of the evil oil tycoon.

This is where the game takes a darker tone--with the way it handles the two political parties. You have the blue or "donkey" group and the red or "elephant" group. Obviously the Democrats and Republicans, respectively. And the Rep... er, Elephant group will always be available to be purchased by the oil company and used for dastardly global deeds. Sure, you can funnel money to the Dem... I mean, Donkey group, but they're such "evil environmentalists," they probably won't help anyway. The game very much propagandizes that Republicans are evil and Democrats are great (though occasionally corruptible).

Frankly, I think they both suck for different reasons, and both use fear (global warming or terrorism) to get votes. Its the idea that this game is clearly using the oil crisis as a one-sided political soapbox that hurts it. It ceases to be an educational tool on the dangers of the oil crisis, and instead becomes a tool of bizarre left-wing propaganda.

While you can have politicians on both sides on your oily payroll, it seems as though it's only when a Republican is elected President that you can goad the government into waging war (oh hey, like in Iraq) just so you can drill more oil. Suddenly, the oil company is that evil corporation behind the scenes running everything that we hear about in so many conspiracy theories.

And everything is somehow evil in this game, or likened to something evil. Take the US Highway system for example. Something that is a hallmark of US engineering (originally, if I'm remembering right, under Eisenhower) to connect every part of the country to every other part for shipping, commerce, food, business, travel, etc is made to sound bad. The evil oil company built this awful highway system as inspired by Hitler and the Nazis with the Autobahn. I'm not kidding. Through the US Interstate system, the oil companies have magically been linked to Hitler.

Let me just point out a few things here--while the Autobahn was an engineering marvel at it's time, just because the Nazi's built it doesn't automatically mean it's bad. After all, Nazi scientists built both the US and Russian space programs, does that make them automatically evil? Secondly, the idea of a massive highway/road system didn't start with Nazi Germany, it's originally a Roman idea. Thirdly, the United States is a big country, and with the advent of something like automobiles, the growth of a mass interconnected highway/interstate/road network is naturally going to evolve--whether the cars all run on oil, or whether they're all solar-powered.

Besides obvious left-wing propaganda, there are also huge helpings of anti-capitalist sentiments peppered throughout. Yes, it's true, sometimes capitalism breaks down and sometimes companies turn into Enron. This is hardly the norm, because if it was, this system never would've worked in the first place. I'm not sure what the designers are going for, but they sure don't seem to like Capitalism. Newspaper articles that pop up during gameplay illustrate this fairly frequently.

You can hate Capitalism all you want--that's fine. And if it's Socialism that the designers support, they can feel that way, too. But to bury this message in a game that's largely meant to educate on the oil crisis and oil industry is absurd. There was this extreme Socialist-style government--the USSR that drilled for oil and cared nothing for the environmental impact. The end result is that I didn't walk away from this game feeling like I actually understood the oil industry, how it worked, or anything useful. I was educated that all oil companies are evil, all politicians can be bought, and that every bad thing that's possible happens because of oil.

True enough, the gameplay can be fun, but again, it's all too absurd to be of any actual educational value. And it gets worse. When the earth was running out of oil, my "alternative" energy option was to set up power plants that burned--apparently--human bodies for energy. What? Really? Why not, oh, say, at least try nuclear or wind or solar? Sure, solar and wind don't generate the energy of oil, but seriously... burning people? The game ceased being educational and instead turned into a science fiction warning akin to 1984 or Soilent Green--but is no where near as memorable.

The Bottom Line
This browser game is available through a couple sources, such as Games4Change, which is where I came across it. The point of the titles on Games4Change site is that they are largely educational on various real-world topics.

Unfortunately, in the relatively simple point-n-click gameplay, this game fails to be educational and is instead conspiratorial and ignorantly speculative. The developers don't like oil or oil companies or Capitalism or Republicans, and they didn't really bother to learn anything about them to make this game. "I think oil companies do this and this to make money." Faking Anthrax attacks, displacing people in Nigeria, drilling in Alaska and making animals magically disappear. Keep in mind, there's been a pipeline from Alaska for ages, and its impact on the environment is negligible.

Also, this idea that American companies and America is the "most evil" concerning oil is somewhat offensive. Reports exist that many Middle Eastern countries have been known to fudge their records on their oil reserves, such as listing the same amount of oil still being in the ground year after year, despite heavy drilling. This is a level of corruption perpetuated by a government to control it's citizens, and arguably more evil than any US-based oil company.

There are real issues concerning our global economic addiction to oil. And there needs to be ways to educate people on them. But this? This doesn't do it. This assumes oil companies are evil, and puts you in the role of an oil executive doing scarily absurd things just to get more oil. Faking anthrax attacks? There are companies that have done evil things in the past (like Enron), but this?

Perhaps this is a basic flaw in educational gaming of these kind of real world topics. Make it too real, and it ceases to be fun, make too many creative choices for fun, and it ceases to be educational. This game ceases to be educational, and bathes in ignorance and conspiracy.

The bulk of this review critiques the educational value and direction of the game itself, rather than focusing on the gameplay, as I'm sure you noticed if you read this far. The gameplay is very simple and largely straight-forward (some things are not explained very well, like how to control politicians). Essentially, the gameplay itself works. However, this game is attempting to be educational as it can be found from Games4Change and similar sites. Aside from delivering propaganda, it fails to be educational.

If you're going to play it, don't expect to learn anything from it--and don't take it seriously. It certainly doesn't take the oil industry or any impending crisis seriously.

Browser · by ResidentHazard (3555) · 2011


MobyPro Early Access

Upgrade to MobyPro to view research rankings!

Related Games

Cartels & Cutthroat$
Released 1981 on Apple II, DOS, Commodore 64
Game Studio Tycoon 3
Released 2016 on iPad, Android, Windows Phone...
Released 1993 on DOS
Released 1994 on Windows 3.x, Windows, 2020 on Macintosh
Business Tour
Released 2017 on Windows, 2020 on iPad, Android...
Big Busine$s
Released 1990 on DOS, 1991 on Amiga, Atari ST
Free Enterprise
Released 1996 on Windows
The Corporate Machine
Released 2001 on Windows
Rock Manager
Released 2001 on Windows

Related Sites +

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 37702
  • [ Please login / register to view all identifiers ]


Are you familiar with this game? Help document and preserve this entry in video game history! If your contribution is approved, you will earn points and be credited as a contributor.

Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Sciere.

Windows, Macintosh added by OmegaPC777.

Additional contributors: Pseudo_Intellectual, Havoc Crow.

Game added December 21, 2008. Last modified February 9, 2024.