Response 4


  1. games are a completely different medium from say text or film. As such, there are certain points at which a game cannot “get real”. That said, this is not to say that games cannot be used as a means of communicating a message, but rather that a game may not always be the most effective method.
  2. To me, an effective polemical game is one that uses the power of simulation and hands on learning to teach audiences by giving them the tools to explore a concept and come to the intended conclusions on their own. Depending on how specific the conclusions the designer intends to be made apparent, the game may have to sacrifice gameplay in favor of message. Ultimately I imagine a sliding scale in with a documentary film as one end, and a sim-city style game about a vague political concept as the other. As gaming is inherently simulation, it allows for hand on learning, but risks the possibility of gamers drawing different conclusions than what was intended.
  3. Probably the one polemical game that sticks out most in my mind is that of the Oregon Trail series of edutainment games from the 90′s. These games tasked players with resource management over the 3000 miles trek to become settlers in the old west. People looking back on the game tend to mock the fact that very little of the information imparted through the game was applicable in their daily lives. Much of the game was simplified or exaggerated for the sake of gameplay. That said, the game did evoke a sense of scale that simply looking at a map or reading about in book could not match. Only by investing hours of time in the quest does one really begin to gain the ability to imagine the level of hardship endured by the settlers on that era.
  4. Based on my statements of games as a simulator rather than a straight instructor. I have a hard time using the words “documentary” and “game” in a sentence. A Documentary film uses a fixed representation of events to tell a specific message while an informative game allows players to research numerous, less focused conclusions. As such, anything that can be called a “documentary game” tends to strain the limits of what can truly be called a game, and not just an elaborate navigation screen between filmic or textual pieces of information.
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