Reading notes #4

1. In the article “Can Games Get Real?”, the author explores the idea that digital games can be a medium for documentary material. It talks about taking different events of life (such as the JFK assassination) and turning them into documentary games. The author presents the idea that games can be a sufficient and even at times better form of presenting non-fictional material to the public. He also talks about the different kinds of documentary digital games: expository, observational, participatory, reflexive, preformative, and poetic. He also gives examples of games that lie in each of the categories. In general the article discusses the representation of real life in the form of digital games, and how important this genre can be to society.

2. I think there lies a lot of potential in games to convey a point of view. First of all games need players, who will be the built in audience to present your idea to. Also, in general an audience may get bored in a documentary film. But, by making a documentary game, you have made an interactive quality that will draw the audience in and make them actually experience the point you are trying to make. That is if you do it right. There is a potential of the fact that you are trying to make a point, get in the way of the ‘fun’ of the game. However, I think that if you make the game with that in mind, this problem is easily avoidable. I think polemical games can be a fun and creative way to convey an important message to an audience.

3. I don’t frequently play video games, but in my short career as a gamer, I have come across a few political/polemical games. One game that I can think of is games like grand theft auto. Through experience, it shows the players the consequences of breaking the law. Even though you are playing the part of the bad guy, it still shows the player that breaking the law is bad, because you almost always get caught by the police. I also think warfare games like Call of Duty have a political message. By dying a bloody death, it shows that warfare is extremely bad and should be avoided at all costs.

4. I think the relationship between documentary film and documentary game is very close. They are quite similar but they have one big difference: interaction. In a documentary game you are a part of the action you are experiencing the event. Whereas in a documentary film you are just a viewer from the outside. I would say that documentary games take down the fourth wall, and invite the viewer into the world of whatever the documentary is about. In this way I would argue that documentary games are a more powerful way to get a point across to an audiece.