Reading Response 4

1. The paper asks “Can games get real?” and presents a few arguments that games are getting real. The authors claim that most games, particularly video games, have fallen into many categories but the documentary genre. They then go on to actually loosely define the documentary game genre and present several examples of games that have elements of a documentary game and perhaps can be considered documentary games. One argument is that documentary games do actually exist and have been labeled so by people from different backgrounds. Another argument is that documentary games have both similarities and differences to documentary movies, and can actually be sub-categorized. One other thing posed about documentary games is that they can be considered simulations of real experiences.

2. I think games have high potential of being a medium for expressing a point of view. I actually think that some games already express points of view or opinions. For example, one night I was playing Monopoly with a couple friends of mine when one of them says that Monopoly embodies lots of things that he is against, like pure Capitalism and materialism. Another example could be the game mentioned in the paper about the Palestine/Israel conflict, which is pretty much presented from the point of view of the Palestinians. I think that the expression of a point of view can definitely get in the way of fun if the player totally despises that point of view and the game completely promotes that point of view. I do think that it is possible to play and be critical simultaneously since playing games is an activity that engages your mind and can have you thinking about certain things or ideas.

3. One game that I would call polemical would be Grand Theft Auto, particularly the part and the ones after. The thing about GTA is that the creators intentionally made it controversial by making the gameplay so mature and destructive. A game where you can go around killing innocent people would definitely gain a lot of attention from a lot of people, both gamers and non-gamers. This feature of the game and the fact that you can have sex with prostitutes and do drugs also made the game highly controversial. In terms of a political point of view, I don’t think there really was one that was explicitly presented.

America’s Army is game that I would call political though not polemical. Although I have never played it, I think I have heard enough about it to conclude that the game presents the point of view of an American soldier who loves his country and will go to war with people who threaten his nation. I don’t think that the game would be promoting the radical point of view of terrorists, although I think the game would definitely denounce such views.

4. I think that a documentary game has its roots in the documentary film genre. Both mediums can fulfill the same things, which are to inform and possibly entertain. A documentary game is inherently meant to entertain since it is a game, while a documentary film doesn’t necessarily have to entertain. This also comes with just the nature of the mediums; games are interactive and have players, while films are passive and have viewers. I think the advantages of each medium can also be a limitation since someone who might just want some information from a documentary might want to sit back and watch the film instead of being interactive with it, whereas a documentary game would probably require the player to finish the game or get to certain points to actually be presented all of the information. That said, I think that it is far easier for a documentary game to be entertaining than for a documentary film. In terms of presentation of factual information, a documentary game can include everything that a documentary film can, since a digital game can include video clips, audio clips, and images.



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