Video games and the law

There are so many great video games out there that have the law as a core part of their story or gameplay. In the interests of my professional development, I have played many of these and would like to share some of the best with you.

First up, perhaps the most famous and well-known legal video game of them all:

Phoenix Wright, Ace Attorney

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This is actually a series of games (and comics, and a film) for the Nintendo handhold game systems like the DS and the 3DS. They all take a pretty similar format. You’re a defence lawyer for a law firm, and the game involves you defending the (clearly) innocent from bogus charges brought against them, and finding the true guilty person.

The originals are all in Japanese and set in Japan, and are based on the Japanese legal system, so there is some good international law exposure by playing these games. Once the series got more popular, there were US localised versions made where you are a lawyer for a Californian law firm.

Why is this game so great? Well, firstly, for lawyers like me it gives me the only exposure I ever want or need to a courtroom. Plus you get to think about your answers and select them from the screen, rather than having to actually think up a proper response to questions or plan a proper cross-examination in a real court with real people and real consequences.

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More importantly, because all of these game systems have microphones, you get to yell things like ‘OBJECTION’ and other fun legal expressions at the screen, which I am sure is exactly how it works in a real court room. The game then reacts to what you’ve said. There is nothing more satisfying for a legal gamer than their objection being sustained, I promise!

The first time I played this was on a plane, and while I often get strange looks, I got even more than usual when I started saying things like ‘MY CLIENT IS NOT GUILTY YOUR HONOUR’ to a tiny screen in my hands.

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The character names in this game are amazing too. You’ve got the main guy, Phoenix Wright (because he is always right and rose from the ashes of a shadowy former life to be a cool defence attorney). Then there is his colleague, called Apollo Justice.

But the bad guy names are just the best. Manfred Von Karma. An evil prosecutor (is there any other kind) simply called Godot, who wears this laser visor thing over his eyes. Joe Darke. The list goes on.

Look, just go play it or just randomly yell OBJECTION a few times in the street to get a feel for how the game works.

My rating: 5/5

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