Reading Notes 3

1. Documentary games, unlike conventional games, are extremely limited in the choices and possibilities of players. They serve the purpose of only immersing the player in the particular event or issue the artist has created. These games, like documentary films, focus on realism and recreating what actually happened. The article describes this genre as “creative treatment of actuality.” Like documentary films and articles, documentary games are yet another way to explore the particular issue. Games, through interactivity allow players to gain a more personal experience with the issue, which gives them the potential to be more influential as a documentary.

For example, in the game JFK reloaded, the player is forced to go through the exact same scenario over and over. Even though the player’s aim and shot may vary, the ending will always be the same.


2. Super Columbine Massacre RPG! is a game in which the player must act as the shooter in a school massacre. It was extremely controversial due to claims that it showed empathy towards the killer. The game also critiqued the media that sensationalized the massacre. It delves into the disturbed mind of the shooters by attempting to find the motives behind the shooting through flashbacks. These become more and more unsettling as the game leads up to the shooting. I think this game is successful as a documentary game, as it attempts to recreate the event through the thoughts of the shooter. The player is conflicted because of the fact that their actions in the game are tied to true events. I think although many have criticized this game for showing empathy to the killers, it is actually up to the player to decide. It is obvious that the artist portrayed the actions of the shooter as horribly wrong, as the player ends up in hell, however the unique perspective of the game is what made it controversial.

Ute is a game in which the player is a woman who is advised by her grandmother to have sex with as many men as possible without getting caught. You must walk around and find a man to have sex as fast as possible before another man catches you. After having sex with them they will appear on your avatar on the left side, and you are able to have sex with them again. If you are caught, they will become heartbroken and you will be not able to meet with them again. I thought it was interesting how the men would have details such as their age and occupation, even though these had nothing to do with sex or the result of the game. This game is a critique on the way the society promotes sex and promiscuity, particularly on pre-marital sex. The men are interested in having sex with Ute only if they believe that she is not having sex with other men. When she is caught, she is permanently affected as they will no longer have sex with her. The man that becomes her husband is the last one that she does not have sex with.

3. Polemical games are vastly different from conventional games because they force the player to think about a particular issue. If this issue is very serious, the artist may want to recreate the same emotions, which can take the fun aspect out of the game. However polemical games, like conventional games, can immerse the player in the situation. In Super Columbine Massacre RPG!, the game is not made for the purpose of fun, but to immerse the player with the dark thoughts of the disturbed minds of the shooters. Polemical games can be fun as well as critical. The game Ute is fun to play, however it critiques a serious issue. After the player finishes the game, they are left to think about what the artist was trying to say about society. I think that polemical games can be very powerful in delivering a message, just as any form of art.

4. Documentary films and games are related in that they attempt to recreate something that has happened. Documentary films are more straightforward because they present to the viewer through video and narration the details of the event. Documentary games do so by attempting to recreate the situation and place the player directly inside it. This has a lot of potential because it gives the player a more personal connection to the event. The game can give the player a greater understanding of the decisions that the people in the real life incident had to make, and even cause them to empathize. Thus, documentary films are a more straightforward way to present the information, but games allow more creative ways to immerse the player in the situation.