It’s Topical Tuesday: Put The Kettle On

I’m not out protesting. I’m sat at home, absorbing a steady drip-feed of political horror off of Twitter. But now, thanks to inexhaustible indie developer Increpare, I can pretend I’m there! Join me as I lock the toilet, open a window, put on a coat and fire up Kettle, a game which casts you as the police trying to effectively bundle a small crowd into a tight space. I got it off Kieron, who got it off Boing Boing. As he says, it really is a neat little puzzler, albeit full disturbing one-liners from a policeman birthed from MSPaint. Thanks, Kieron. Thieron.


  1. Daniel Rivas says:

    Ha! Brilliant. Gonna lock you up sonny! Let’s see your ID!

    How realistic.

  2. Lewie Procter says:

    I especially like how you can tell some of the protesters are children, but the police don’t seem to care.

    It would be much easier if you had some police on horseback that you could use to charge at the protesters though.

  3. Skurmedel says:

    Can somebody explain the context for us non-britons? By the way does this have the photographing units of the Metropolitan Police?

    • Mike says:

      “Kettling” is a tactic that confines protesters within an area for extended periods of time. It’s come under criticism from some groups, firstly because of its often aggressive nature, and also because of the obstruction of the protest itself.

      Cute puzzle mechanic. Works well with the topic. Not much of a statement though, so let’s not read into it too far, eh?

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      University tuition fees are about to treble under our new coalition government, part of which spent the election signing things like this. That’s the leader of the Liberal Democrats, the smaller party in the Coalition (the other party are the Conservatives).

      You can read about why this is – to put it mildly – a bad idea here.

      Anyway, the students are not happy with this state of affairs and are protesting. The Met are doing their best to stop them using the legally questionable tactic of “kettling”, which is basically trapping the protesters in some side street or other for several hours instead of letting them exercise their legal right to protest along routes pre-arranged, as it happens, with the police.

      Edit: Oh, for goodness’ sake. Still, hurray for editing, eh?

    • Rich says:

      Kettling as a means of crowd control.
      The reason this is topical is because at the moment we’re getting lots of student protests/riots going on in most major cities over the planned tuition fee hike. It’s going up (in most cases) from £3,000 to £9,000 a year. Although they won’t actually have to start paying it until they’re earning £21,000 a year, after graduating.

    • Lewie Procter says:

      Highly opinionated, brief, explanation:

      We currently have a government that is a coalition between the largest party (The Tories, who got 36.1% of the vote) and the third largest party (The Lib Dems, who got 23.0% of the vote).

      The leader of the Lib Dems promised several things during their election campaign, including “I will never form a coalition with the Tories” and “I would be against any campaign to increase tuition fees”.

      However, as soon as the opportunity to get even a little bit of power became available to them, the Lib Dems threw out many of these core principals, the very reason that their voters voted for them in the first place, and are supporting these Tory policies.

      This is against the backdrop of the biggest cuts in welfare and social services since the 80s, where the poorest people are having the benefits they depend on cut or removed, and many of the richest are having their taxes reduced.

      Many students and young people are exercising their democratic and human right to protest this, and the police are responding to them by “Kettling” protesters. Basically exactly as the game shows, surrounding them (often with riot gear) and refusing to let them go, for sometimes up to 7 hours, without access to food, water or toilets. Many of these protesters are children, and we are having a particularly cold winter.

      Police have also be been charging protesters on horseback, and then outright denying it ever happened, despite video evidence proving it happened:
      link to

      It’s pretty fucking terrifying.

    • Rich says:

      Aye well, what do you expect from the Met.

    • Theory says:

      In theory the kettle is used to isolate rioters. In practice who knows if they’re getting their people or just irritating everyone? Mind you, I haven’t heard of any windows being smashed on marches two and three (march one having taken the police by surprise).

      Edit: very surprised to see horses in use at that speed. The Guardian article does admit at the very end that they went in after the crowd started “hurling missiles and surging forwards” though…

    • Andreas says:

      Yes, it’s worth remembering that in the first student march against tuition fees, where kettling wasn’t used, a building was completely ransacked.
      It’s also worth noticing that there hasn’t been a single serious injury to any protesters in any of the marches according to the London Ambulance Service, as opposed to a few broken bones on the police side of things.
      The latest news from today’s march is showing the the police have said that they won’t be kettling, as long as protesters don’t move towards Whitehall itself. Although, protesters have started trying to force their way through police lines, so that’ll probably lead to a kettle.

    • Skurmedel says:

      Ok thanks.

      Sadly such things are becoming common place in Europe, the always stricter enforcements on demonstrations. In some way I think it actually promotes rioting.

    • Daniel Rivas says:

      Two points:

      1) Rich, that figure of £21,000 is misleading, as the change comes in from 2016. Because of inflation in today’s money it’s more like £18,500.

      link to

      2) Being kept captive for several hours and denied warmth or toilets sounds like punishment to me. And it’s justified because it “keeps a few troublemakers from causing trouble”. So it’s collective punishment. Which is a violation of the Geneva Conventions. So that’s nice.

      I mean, I’m not a lawyer…

    • Rich says:

      @Daniel Rivas

      1. I hadn’t thought of that. It’s still better than having to start paying at £15,000, as I do, but I take your point. Also, I’m pretty sure the rate at which you pay it back is being dramatically increased, which is not good.

      2. I agree with your general sentiment, but the Geneva Convention(s) only applies to war.

    • Andreas says:

      There is actually a test case being taken to the European High Court – the House of Lords said it was legal, but it depends on the circumstances really.

    • Daniel Rivas says:


      1) Indeed. Incidentally, the tripling of fees is bad, but it isn’t the worst of the Browne report. I recommend everyone read the Stefan Collini piece I linked to further up the page, it’s a decent overview.

      2) Aye, true. Still, I said I wasn’t a lawyer!

    • Rich says:

      “isn’t the worst of the Browne report”
      Personally, I’m pretty miffed by the cut* in research funding.
      It’s hard enough for scientists to get a job or decent salary in this country as it is.
      It’s a wonder we don’t all bugger off the States where they have all that lovely NIH money to throw around.

      *OK, freeze.

    • Wilson says:

      @Andreas – “Yes, it’s worth remembering that in the first student march against tuition fees, where kettling wasn’t used, a building was completely ransacked.”

      I think it’s also worth remembering that they failed to plan properly for the possibility that the Conservative HQ might become a target, and didn’t have the specially trained police there that they should have (who could have protected the building). I don’t think a lack of kettling was the main factor there, but a lack of proper planning. But they were providing toilets and water in the recent kettles, which is an improvement on past events. And as you say, injuries overall were low, which is good.

    • Ovno says:

      Just for the sake correctness the police have been using kettling since before the coallition got in, nothing to do with which government is in power just bad police tactics, in fact its use was heavily critised during the G20 demonstraitions which took place under the last government…

    • Matthew says:

      Did Nick Clegg really say he would refuse to form a coalition with the Tories? I recall him being very cagey when asked about the possibilities of power-sharing, but I don’t recall an outright refusal.

      (That’s a question, not a criticism.)

    • Rob says:


      “With the public sector in the UK currently larger than the private sector”

      On what possible metric is that true?

    • Berzee says:

      “This IS apocalyptic stuff.”

      I scanned this long discussion until I saw this, and then I looked back to see what was so apocalyptic, and I saw something about tuition, and I was all like Wow! I don’t remember much about tuition in The Book of Revelation. What a very droll apocalypse.

    • Ovno says:

      Can’t find it now but a report came out a couple of months ago which stated this quite clearly and hasn’t been challenged by any of the main parties, think tanks or media groups….

      Edit: No sorry that report was on relative wages in the public sector being higher than the public sector not overall size…

    • Lewie Procter says:

      I recall a video of him specifically saying that he would not join a Tory coalition, but I can’t find it atm, so I could be mis-remembering.

      However there is this:

      “I will never allow the Liberal Democrats to be a mere annex to another party’s agenda.”
      “Will I ever join a Conservative government? No.”
      link to

      Edit: Although you clearly could, if you were so inclined, argue that he stuck to his word. I presume that some ardent Tories might argue he has diluted their parties ideals, and the tax cuts and removal of benefits have not gone far enough.

    • Rob says:

      From the Office of National Statistics, Q2 2010, public sector employment was 6.051 million. From the same source the latest employment statistics show 29.19 million. That implies more than 23 million in the private sector, almost 4 times as many as in the public sector.

    • Rich says:

      “I presume that some ardent Tories might argue he has diluted their parties ideals”
      As a ardent non-Tory, I’d say the presence of the Lib Dems within the coalition has at least partly blunted the Tory axe. I’m certain that if the Tories had gained a straight majority they would have been much harsher.

      Regarding the formation of the coalition, I don’t think the Lib Dems would have come to a deal with Labour. It’s taken the complete defeat of Labour for them to accept that the assault on civil liberties wouldn’t stand. Not to say that much of what Clegg is doing isn’t a betrayal.

    • Quirk says:

      Collini’s piece has a nasty social elitism about it that I find distasteful. As a university lecturer he must, after all, protect his own interests, but I find it a most ugly use of eloquence in the defence of privilege.

      As of 2005, approximately 43% of 18- to 30-year-olds had been or were at university. ( link to )

      What happens to those who don’t go to university? They try to find jobs, as best they can in a world in which degree-level education has become an entry barrier for a host of jobs, and then they are taxed on their income. This tax goes to the public purse, which then funds the educational institutions they are not benefiting from.

      This seems regressive. It may be allowed that those who do not go to university benefit from society having ready access to skilled doctors, engineers, and possibly even lawyers. However, it is difficult to see why Bob from the council estate, starting full-time work at 16 in a job that promises him little but drudgery for years, should have to pay the education costs of Tarquin’s art history degree, no matter what it contributes to Tarquin’s development as a person. Tarquin will, after all, have a relatively drudgery-free few years as a student before joining the workforce in a significantly better post than Bob will have worked his way up to.

      This is the sharp edge of the “public cultural role” of universities: while the beneficiaries of these parts of the university system may indeed come out more cultured, it is rather less clear how this is meant to trickle down to Bob and similarly positioned members of the public.

      Socially, one of the strongest divisions between the haves and the have nots has come to be the level of education. Making the educated repay the cost of their education out of their future earnings seems fairer than taking it out of the same pot that those who have not been able to take advantage of the opportunity must pay into, even if it leads to much middle class bleating.

    • Rich says:

      Again, interesting point Quirk.
      Although, you can’t really begrudge the people being upset when they’re suddenly told “the free ride stops here”. It hurts all the more when a rich university graduate from the political class is the one slamming the door to a university place in your face.

      The cuts to research funding can only be counter productive though.
      We all play RTSs. If you don’t put resources into research, you’re going to get steamrollered in the end game.

    • Quirk says:

      Cutting research funding is extremely stupid, agreed. As is cutting funding to anything that will end up costing us more in the long run. I’m hoping the government has the good sense to ease off a bit now the economy’s pulling round some, though “good sense” and “George Osborne” don’t seem like words that would belong in the same sentence.

    • Evilpigeon says:

      @ Quirk:
      “should have to pay the education costs of Tarquin’s art history degree, no matter what it contributes to Tarquin’s development as a person. Tarquin will, after all, have a relatively drudgery-free few years as a student before joining the workforce in a significantly better post than Bob will have worked his way up to.”

      Because the tuition costs of an art history degree are ridiculously high right? I’m not pretend I know exact numbers for this but most of the actual expense for Universities comes from more scientific subjects, as opposed to something like Art History which probably could be run for £3000 per student a year or less.

      Nah what Bob is paying for is my Computer Science degree which might end up indirectly …. uhhh doing nothing for him :P . On the otherhand from the perspective of Bob in 10-20 year’s time, is it worth him a relatively small amount of extra taxes so that he can afford to send his own children to University and a better life should they be intelligent enough to make it.

    • Xercies says:

      @ Quirk

      Actually these tuition fees help bob as much as Tarquin if Bob wanted a uni degree. You see with Tuition going up it would pretty much affect tarquin not that much but it would affect the lower income people. I’m already seeing the poorer people seeing the uni tutition fees now and how much debt they get in and wavering there position. Well with tutition fees at £9000 and the loan not covering that, well i think even the middle income families would think twice of going for that.

    • Rob says:


      Thanks for the response, that’s an interesting figure I hadn’t actually encountered before. While I might not share quite the extent of your concern, I think it’s clearly not unreasonable grounds for such concerns.

    • Quirk says:

      Well, firstly, the system is unlikely to let Bob go to university, because Bob, for whatever reason, does not have the academic grades that act as passport to that life.

      Secondly, however, the total amount of the loan is less important here to Bob than the percentage of earnings taken. If Bob gets a degree and goes on, after a few years of experience in his field, to earn 32K a year, approx 1K of that will be nabbed by the government to repay the loan (9% of earnings over 21K). It is however very much easier for Bob to find a job making 32K a year as a graduate than as a non-graduate. This is essentially a graduate tax by any other name; it’s just capped in terms of lifetime repayments.

      The problem here, from Bob’s perspective, is almost purely one of perception. If Bob thinks, “Crikey, I’m going to be 20K in the hole after uni, better not go,” yes, we have a problem. If Bob thinks, “Well, I only have to pay if I get a good job,” then the problem disappears.

  4. Andreas says:

    Sadly, until the police are massively outnumbered, your speakers blare “TORY SCUM” at maximum volume on a loop, and your computer starts tossing bottles at you, you won’t be getting the full experience.

    • Groove says:

      You should also probably lock your pc in the fridge, even before it protests. Taking away it’s keyboard and denying it electricity would also be realistic.

    • TheAngryMongoose says:

      I think being able to use horse charges will add a new level of depth to the gameplay.

  5. Garg says:

    Kieron, Kieron; what hath thou dunst?

  6. GibletHead2000 says:

    I recall wanting to develop an RTS some years ago where you controlled a band of protesters in a forest, fortifying themselves against a construction company trying to build a road. (Or the other way around) — the idea being to either make the construction company run out of money, or finish getting the road built depending on what side you played on.

    Never could figure out quite how to make it work, though.

    • Rich says:

      Apart from AI Wars, I can’t think of many games that cast you as the underdog.
      The CnC games often appear like they’re doing it, when you’re playing Nod, but you quickly end up with big stompy tech. and you lose any sense of desperation.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Not many games cast you as the underdog?

      Are you serious?

    • Rich says:

      Hmm… OK, I mostly mean strategy games. I also realise even that isn’t true.

      What I’m getting at, is very few games make you fight like an underdog would. Using your enemies weaknesses as your strengths, kind of thing. They’re big, you’re small. Means they’re slow and you’re fast. You often start low, and build up, but it never really feels like you’re having work for it.

      Basically, what I’d like to see is a game where you start off with a band of partisans or guerillas and slowly manage to win against a much larger, more equipped enemy*. Like AI War, or that Operation Flashpoint add-on, the name of which escapes me.

    • Rich says:

      Tried to edit the comment but the spam bot ate it.
      *You do often see this, but it’s almost always part of a scripted campaign. All you have to do is win each mission you’re presented with, and the story will play out until you beat the evil empire.

  7. Theory says:

    I guess it being so easy is part of the political statement?

  8. Vanderdecken says:

    Thanks, Quintin. Thintin.

    <3 Look Around You.

  9. noobnob says:

    The ending couldn’t be more disturbing.

  10. jolson42 says:

    And then, when all the protesters had been safely boxed away gone home, the police went and arrested eight ladies and their pets for having incorrect bus fare.

  11. BobDicks says:


  12. Maykael says:

    Kieron can’t stay away from RPS as it seems. Give a few more months and he will be back and the hivemind will be composed of 5 hemispheres as the god of games and all things cool has intended.

    Ontopic: nice little game for the afternoon.

    • Matthew says:

      He’s trying desperately not to post another Liberal Crime Squad update as we type.

  13. Andrew Farrell says:

    The latest news from today’s march is showing the the police have said that they won’t be kettling, as long as protesters don’t move towards Whitehall itself. Although, protesters have started trying to force their way through police lines, so that’ll probably lead to a kettle.

    The protests were to run from 12-3. At 3.30, when you posted that, the kettling had be in place for 2hours 45 minutes. Please stop believing things the police say, just because the police say them.

  14. westyfield says:

    Where are the policemen going?

  15. wererogue says:

    Thanks, Quinns…


  16. Lambchops says:

    Gah. One of thesee days I’ll complete an Increpare puzzle game. i always find them so easy at the start then I come unstuck on a later level and just can’t be bothered finishing. Nice idea though, liked it.

    • Lambchops says:

      Oh no wait, I managed it this time. Yeah you’ve got nothing to say now, do you Mr Policeman.

  17. GenBanks says:

    I got kettled on the 24th. Horrible experience, completely disproportionate, disrespectful of the rights of peaceful citizens to be free of police harassment or indefinite detainment and should be outlawed as a tactic.

    For the first few hours of the protest today we kept moving and changing direction, everyone was afraid of spending their whole day standing still in the freezing snow just because they wanted to voice their opinion against cuts and their frustration at the Lib Dem betrayal. I hear some kettling happened later in the day, my sympathies for those unfortunates.

    I like that someone’s made a game out of it, the more attention that is drawn to kettling the wider the debate will become and hopefully it can someday be abolished as an anti-protest strategy so that some thug police officer can’t verbally abuse a bunch of cold tired people in the street while detaining them for no reason.