Reality Play by Joost Raessens introduced some interesting ideas about the use of videogames to reenact history so that one may experience an event. These so-called “docu-games” enable players to “transform play into a meaningful, interactive experience” in which the player can experience feeling, reflexivity, and action in a historical experience brought back for educational gameplay. He discusses numerous games but highlights four games in particular in his discussion of “docu-games.”  His four games of focus are: JFK  Reloaded, 9-11 Survivor, Waco Resurrection, and Escape from Woomera.

His discussion of 9-11 Survivor caught my interest the most and spurred me to look online for the game. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate it but I did find these screen shots of the game to help me visualize what the game would look like.

screen shots found here

While reading about this game, I thought to myself: How anyone play something like this? Yes, you may be able to experience the traumatic moments in fuller detail and grasp a better understanding for happened but at what cost? Wouldn’t it be very traumatic to play a game like this and put yourself in a situation where you the outcome is so painful? Does making a game about what happened really shed light on what happened that day?

And I guess if I were to play this game I would answer yes to all of the questions above. Yes, playing the game probably would give me more perspective on what went on that day and yes, it would hurt a great deal to play a game like this.

But games like these will always have a hard time reaching the public with their messages. Videogames just don’t have the same respect documentaries do. With many videogames promoting violence and mindless game play like Grand theft auto and Call of Duty, I feel like it would be very hard for docu-games to ever become popular.

One thought on “Docu-games

  1. jdabrows

    I found your comment about videogames not having the same respect as documentaries very interesting. My theory is that because documentaries are from a seemingly-objective point-of-view, the audience feels like they can absorb the information, but at a distance (while, in fact, documentaries can be extremely biased through the choices the director makes about what information to include and how that information is portrayed). In contrast, playing a docu-game forces the audience into participation with the event or information and this makes some (most?) people uncomfortable.

    Because so many people find docu-games uncomfortable or offensive (most likely without stopping to consider the deeper message of the game), I agree that docu-games will probably never become popular. Even so, just because modern art is not always popular, or easily understandable, I don’t think the artists should stop making it. As long as the docu-games are made for sincere, meaningful purposes, I feel that they should be accepted as artistic statements, just like modern art is. That doesn’t mean people will suddenly start loving these games, but they should at least be respected and not dismissed out of hand.

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