Simulation vs gaming

All of the games required for playing were mentioned in the readings for Tuesday except for one, September 12th.

The game tried to label itself not as a game but as a simulation, that would shed light and insight and inspire inquiry into the subject of “the war on terror”. It claims that because one does not win or lose, only choose to shoot or not to shoot, that September 12th is not a game. Based on our understanding of diegetic and nondiegetic acts of games we know through the players interactions with it that this really is a game. We have played games before where the player does not really win or lose; Echo Bazaar, The Torture Game, and Dys4ia. The lack of the threat of loss or reward of victory does not strip September 12th of its label as a game, but what about its self proclaimed rank of ‘simulation’?

Simulation is defined as; the act of imitating the behavior of some situation or some process by means of something suitably analogous. Clearly the creators of September 12th are trying to share their opinions and thoughts on US foreign policy and Military Intervention around the world, particularly regarding post 9-11 terrorism. This game is in no way a suitably analogous process to that of the complexity of the side effects and backlash of civilian casualties to missile strikes against insurgent populations. I’m not trying to share my views on this subject one way or another, but I do strongly believe that September 12th does not deserve the title of ‘simulation’. The game vastly over simplifies a highly complex subject matter that cannot be accurately replicated with such simple tools. Saying September 12th ‘simulates’ the war on terror is like saying Mario Kart simulates NASCAR or Spore simulates evolution and natural selection. It does create a very basic sense of empathy and understanding of people who may be living in such situations, but really this game isn’t realistic or accurate enough to truly be called a simulation.

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One Response to Simulation vs gaming

  1. I agree, the game is not really a simulation. But what do you think about the other titles the game gives itself: “a toy world” and “a newsgame.” What do each of these titles suggest?

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