In the article entitled, “Can Games Get Real? A Closer Look at ‘Documentary’ Digital Games”, Ian Bogust and Cindy Poremba come together and present the argument of the documentary video game embodying its own unique characteristics and persona in the media game world. The authors begin by introducing the origins and history of documentary games. Once background information is provided, the authors then go on to inform the readers which factors are necessary that go into making the documentary digital game, including the procedural, interactive, reflexive, generative, and poetic use of the model and their implications. For example, some documentary games may relate to certain political and historical events that can provoke sensitive emotions in the gamer, which in turn gives an emotional attachment and appeal to the game itself. Because of this provoking emotional reaction caused by some of the topics, these games are often considered to be controversial. Despite its controversial nature, there is no denying that the documentary video game gives players the opportunity to take real events and have an alternative perspective on them by allowing them to view and explore these events through an immersive platform. This is what makes documentary games unique and unlike other digital games, these games achieve awareness of social events and encourage engagement with them.
The game Super Columbine Massacre RPG! proves that the documentary digital game goes beyond any simple form of digital game we have seen before. The lingering question becomes, as LeDonne says best, “that grand burning query so many have tried to answer is one I believe this game allows us to at least access in a more honest way.” When we are able to accept the reality of social events is when we are able to begin to truly understand them and face the underlying issues. Taking a tragedy like the Columbine shooting that resulted in such agony and despair may be considered to be distasteful, however there are always two sides to every argument. The alternative be- ing that this game takes one of the darkest events and forces us to look at humanity and what we are capable of. It also gives us perspective and a more first-person view of the event. This allows us to not only have a better understanding of the event, but it also makes us learn from the shooting by applying it to other situations where it is applicable. The game Paper, Please also gives a reflexive platform to the players that allows the player to contemplate every instinct and reaction they make not only in the game, but in their own life as well. Although it is a simple game to play mechanically, it is a difficult game to play emotionally because of certain decisions the player is presented with in order to win. These thought processes extend to real life and help players care and think about certain decisions they have made in the past.
Personally, I think that the documentary game has potential to be both impacting and game oriented if it is a well-designed one. It serves to change the attitude of the younger generation to- wards documentaries themselves because it allows for an interactive experience instead of a tedious one that is found in many documentaries. This in turn will change the stereotype of the boring documentary. In addition, the sentimental appeal of the game provides a better understanding of the event and makes it more meaningful. This offers people to self reflect and think about our own responsibilities as members of society. On the contrary, the intention of the game might be taken the wrong way and actually give ideas to the younger generation of repeating the events they are interacting with. The intention of the game might not even be reached by certain players who are simply not interested in the game itself. This makes the game lose its power and becomes pointless. Issues aside, documentary games in this digital era gives a whole new meaning of “work hard, play hard.”