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Documentary Games
Regine Debatty, 2 Sep 06

Parisriots2.jpgWater Cooler Games has an interesting story about documentary games (or docu-games), such as Escape from Woomera -- a Half-life mod designed as a direct critique of Australia's inhumane detention centres; Waco Resurrection that revisits the 1993 Waco tragedy, and the controversial JFK Reloaded. Ian Bogost, the author of the post, points to Cindy Poremba's blog for more information on the topic, to which she is devoting her Ph.D. research (PDF of her research proposal).

Bogost also mentions a new game that might belong to the genre. Paris Riots is a mod of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault in which the player is invited to take a side in the simulation of last year's civil unrest in France. The game uses real-world photography and video as a supplement to the game. Its author, Sylvain Gaillard, a French art graduate, has been violently criticized by the national press who took the game very seriously. However, he explained to blog-territorial that it's exactly the role of the media that he wanted to denounce in the game: the game "shouldn't be taken so seriously," he said. "I don't want to transmit any political message, be it anti-police or anti-youth from the suburbs. My aim is to make people think, to get the debate."

This is an interesting response from the creator, given how many game designers are doing just that: designing serious games in order to help people understand and respond to issues of policy, ethics, culture, war, and public health. Regardless of the intent, the end result is likely the same. As the author said, this kind of gaming gets people to think, and that in itself catalyzes shifting perspectives.

Demo and 2 video trailers.

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