Reading Response 5

The polemical game I played was Darfur is Dying, featuring villagers being confined by the soldiers and hunted down if they were to rebel.  The point of view in this game is the attempt to stay alive by foraging for water and bringing it back to the village.  The game was more of a political statement than a conventional one, showing the happenings in the village of Darfur and what the villagers were experiencing.

I noticed that the game continued after the forage for water in an eagle-eye view of the game as the character I just played so I could take care of the village or forage for more water.  In the bottom-left hand corner, there was an option that led to a list of options, one which included the option to send an actual message to Obama or make a donation to Darfur.  Having this game on such a website wasn’t a game for fun, or so I realized this afterward.  The only reason why the designer would add some sort of agency in such a documentary was probably to state the eventual outcome of the village of Darfur if the situation was not taken care of.

The player is able to control most of the agency the game provides during the forage for water.  The player literally takes control of the character they chose to be at the beginning of the game and runs around the desert in order to find the water faucet while avoiding soldiers.  Later in the game in the village, the player has the ability to interact with his/her environment in order to support the village for as long as it can stand.  Sooner or later the player has to forage for more water.  In my opinion, the foraging is the most interesting part of the game, since the player gets to play in a real-time environment running around and avoiding soldiers in order to reach a goal while being very nerve-wracking.

It is pretty much given by the game illustration that the game is set as a “documentary” with much agency.  While playing the game, I felt like I really didn’t want to get caught by the soldiers and what would happen if I got caught.  Even if the game over screen appeared, it would not show me what happens aside from the obvious, probably to leave the player in thought about what happened.  The difference between this game and a regular news report is that the news provides a linear, set explanation of a situation while the game provides a more diverse setting to the player in order to place him/her in such an experience while keeping the same point of view and properly project the happenings in Darfur.

The most interesting part of this game is the link to the actual events in Darfur.  By that, I mean that this game’s purpose is directly related to that of the situation in Sudan.  After playing the game I was also tempted to help donate after seeing such a situation that I have made for myself.  Also, although the game was probably inaccurate in terms of what happened, the real situation is probably nonetheless the same than the game itself.  I also noticed that the amount of water that the forage provides is enough to supply the village for a good while.  However, the amount of water seems unrealistic in terms of how much a regular person needs in order to live.  These exaggerations help emphasize the problem of the villagers of Darfur and make the player very sympathetic to the villagers.

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