Reading Response 4

1. In the article, the authors unsurprisingly talkĀ about the idea of game becoming real. Specifically, they talk about how some games are moving from a strictly fictional entertainment medium into a non fiction genre with real ideas that the game designers are trying to convey to the readers. They use the term “documentary game” to describe this type of game, and compare and contrast it to the documentary film that we are more accustomed to. He argues that as opposed while games are often representations of the real world in some way, they are different from documentaries in that generally they are not an exact retelling of a certain historic event, but are instead some sort of deviation of an event, with some things being changed, etc. Therefore, in order to qualify as a documentary game, the game must be a historically accurate retelling of an event that happened in real life.

2. I think that most games these days have some sort of polemic element, and their being so does not get in the way of being “fun”. Generally, these types of games have some sort of underlying message as a polemic element, and they are no central to the gameplay nor the gameplay experience. For example, when I was visiting the 798 art district in Beijing, I played a video game which was some sort of Mario clone, but with a Chairman Mao-esque communist as the main character. The game was still fun – it had about the same gameplay as Mario, but the sprites and backgrounds used were a sort of social commentary on the state of old time communist China, and thus had a polemic element to them. This game, along with countless others, demonstrates that it is possible to play a game which is critical of some element of real life, but still have fun in doing so.

3. A lot of the first person shooter war simulation games can be considered polemic games, because they have political undertones to them. For example, Medal of Honor or Call of Duty both fall under this sort category, because the protagonists are some form of the U.S military, and the enemies being killed are terrorists are Taliban members, shadowing real life events.

Another example is Super Columbine Massacre RPG, a role playing game in which the players control gunmen responsible for the Columbine incident. Again, the game shadows a real life event, and has an underlying message about the whole incident.

4. I think that documentary game and documentary film are very similar, but there are more limitations to the documentary film. Documentary films are strict retellings of historical events, with little room for creativity. Documentary games are more open to interpretation, but again, for a game to qualify under the documentary genre, they too must be retellings of historical events. I think the problem with documentary games is that there just aren’t many games which are based solely off of real life events, with any elements of fiction involved in them. There’s a lot of examples of games which are based on some sort of event, such as World War II, but the scenarios played out in the game are fictional. Also, people generally don’t think of video games when they think of documentaries, because games are generally associated with fiction, and documentaries are a non-fiction genre. I would categorize this as a limitation of the documentary game, because of how people view them.

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