Sure, I play my fair share of shooters–Call of Duty, Halo, Medal of Honor–but when reading this article, I was taken aback with the notion of rewarding a player $100,000 emulating the ballistics of JKF’s assasination with hopes of dispelling the many conspiracy theories that surround that tragic day. The question I asked myself while reading this was: how is this different from Call of Duty? or any game for that matter that involves the assassination of any figure of histortical relevance.
Tracey Fullerton introduces the term documentary games, which serves as an “umbrella term for commercial war games that feature fictional recreations” (62). Now, this may apply to Call of Duty and Medal of Honor, but it appears the same for JFK Reloaded, which doesn’t make sense–the assassination wasn’t fictional, it really happened.
How is this different from killing Fidel Castro on Call of Duty: Black Ops, for example? In the game, players are given the objective to storm Fidel Castro’s stronghold, and neutralize him. As you break through security, exchanging gunfire with hostiles, you reach Castro, and put a bullet right between the eyes–awesome, right? Of couse it is! You completed the objective, but would players feel awesome putting a bullet through JFK’s head, and if so, why? Is it because you accomplished the assassination, or is it because your ballistic marks match that of Lee Harvey Oswald’s?
This article was interesting because it questioned my morals. How is it that I can streight-faced run into an enemy stronghold, kill everyone, put a hole through the head of a communist revolutionary, continue through the rest of the campaign, and not feel disturbed? I can’t really see JFK Reloaded as a game–a documentary, sure, but not a game. In Call of Duty you can game over very easily, and continue from a checkpoint. Conversely, JFK Reloaded only has one way to win–there are no chekpoints, or game over screens.