1. Summarize the arguments made in paper re the main question posed (You know the one that is the title of the article..)
In the article “Can Games Get Real”, the author describes the evolution of games into a more non-fiction genre. He discusses in detail the idea of categorizing games as a documentary which is obviously used when describing something that is portraying reality or at least something that is supposed to replicate reality. The idea of games being a documentary is a little more extreme of a description than describing them as being documentary quality. The author explains that the actuality depicted in a game will be different then what would be seen in film. A documentary film would directly expose everything that is happening in reality while in games you try to provide the right amount of constraints so that what is produced could be perceived as actual events. Depending on a person’s accepted definition of “documentary” or “reality”, the author discusses the development of genre that is currently pushing to portray reality in an attempt to be as “real” as possible.
2. Next week well play some “polemical games” and you can judge first hand but in the meantime – whats is your opinion of the potential (or lack there of) of games as a medium for expression a point of view? does this “get in the way of the fun” ? is it possible/helpful to play and be critical at the same time?
I think that games which are used as a medium for expressing a point of view limit themselves to an audience that will relate to the opinions embedded in the game. It is not necessarily a bad basis for a game and will not always be something that makes the game unattractive, but it does target a very specific audience. Personally I think that many games express the opinions and bias of the developers but as long as the point of view does not eliminate important concepts like meaningful choice, the game can still be helpful and fun.
3. Please describe examples of games that you felt had a strong political / polemical point of view?
I think games like Call of Duty have a strong pro-American political view. They are controversial in the ways that they depict the “enemy” and how characters act toward the faction that you are fighting. Sometimes the words used in the game express strong views of American dominance. Other countries are always portrayed as the “bad guys”. Rarely do you see American characters in these games doing anything but being the heroes.
Other games like Hitman or Manhunt can also be viewed to fit in this category because they are based on performing actions that many people would view as unethical. With a focus on killing and performing illegal actions, there is a strong sense of fighting against the status quo.
4. How do you see the relationship between “documentary game” and “documentary film” ? what are the limitations / advantages of each medium in this context?
I think that both documentary games and documentary films are important mediums for helping people better understand reality and be able to “experience” situations digitally that they may not ever have the opportunity to actually be a part of. I believe that documentary films have the limitation that they are supposed to completely represent reality and try to avoid bias and opinion as much as possible. I think that for documentary games however the perception of what needs to be “real” is a much looser term. I also think however that documentary films have the advantage of being immediately accepted as truth while games will always provide a simulation of reality without containing any real life events.