Using Games to Talk About Gaza, and An Introduction to Sonic Studies

Using Games to Talk About Gaza, and An Introduction to Sonic Studies

Sonic the Hedgehog

Hello, Escapist readers! As part of our partnership with curation website Critical Distance, we'll be bringing you a weekly digest of the coolest games criticism, analysis and commentary from around the web. Let's hit it!

This week, at First Person Scholar, Steve Wilcox argues that rather than moving us toward a ludic future in which we become more aware of systems and patterns,

Games are inherently about developing empathy towards one another. This begins by thinking of games in the same way that others have thought about art in general: as a means of training the imagination to create new contexts in which to discover new knowledge.

Acting as wonderful support for Wilcox's argument, at Kotaku Asi Burbak discusses how developing Peacemaker forever changed how he thought about the current Israel-Palestine conflict, saying:

There is nothing more challenging than expressing empathy for the other side, especially when your side is under attack... In PeaceMaker, walking in another man's shoes is not only a concept; it's the heart of the simulation.

Conversely, The Guardian's Elena Cresci questions whether it is possible to base a game in a volatile real-world setting, such as Gaza, without belittling those involved in the conflict. Cresci concludes, using Peacemaker as an example, that when dealing with complicated subject matter it is essential for the designers to make their intentions clear.

Also on The Guardian, Daniel Nye Griffiths catalogs several games and how they are being used to change real lives, including newsgames such as those discussed by Cresci and Burbak.

Discussing how games touch our emotions, on Kill Screen Carli Velocci writes about how choices are presented in The Walking Dead and the ways in which such choices can lead to character deaths, initially agitate her social phobia leading to panic attacks, but also eventually help her to combat anxiety by allowing her to become more confident in her choices, including what to say in conversation, over time.

Let's end on a lighter note, shall we? Shifting gears from current events to the legacy of a certain blue hedgehog, on Kotaku the one and only Zolani Stewart traces the history of Sonic the Hedgehog and his status as a fluid media object moving between mascot and fully realized character.

Want more? Be sure to swing over to Critical Distance to have your fill!

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Critical Distance:

Conversely, The Guardian's Elena Cresci questions whether it is possible to base a game in a volatile real-world setting, such as Gaza, without belittling those involved in the conflict. Cresci concludes, using Peacemaker as an example, that when dealing with complicated subject matter it is essential for the designers to make their intentions clear.

For those who never knew or have forgotten, this has been tried already and failed before it got started. Atomic Games was developing Six Days in Fallujah at the beckoning of and with the help of soldiers who survived the conflicts in Fallujah. Activision was to be the producer/publisher. To repeat, the idea came from the soldiers. They wanted to tell their story and they wanted to use a game to do it. We, the gaming public, let it fail. When news of the game's development became public knowledge, Fox News and the non-gaming public tore Atomic to shreds. There was a televised interview that was just awful.

The devs of Atomic should have tried to defend themselves a bit more but no one came to their defense. When the controversy started, Activision quickly dropped them to distance themselves from the negative PR. So I would say that Atomic Games failed to make their intentions clear, but then again, they never had a chance to. We let it happen. Yes, I would love to see more serious and current topics explored in games but we, as devs, publishers and gamers are going to have to stand behind these games as they are made.

Sorry for the sermon but what happened to "Six Days in Fallujah" really disappointed me.

Captcha: it doesn't count. Captcha, you and I are going to exchange some unpleasant words...

So then the game starts you off as a young child being indoctrinated with propaganda that would have the Aryan Brotherhood's seal of approval as regards Israel? Then as a 14 year old boy Hamas starts using you to transport weapons and run recce?

ravenshrike:
So then the game starts you off as a young child being indoctrinated with propaganda that would have the Aryan Brotherhood's seal of approval as regards Israel? Then as a 14 year old boy Hamas starts using you to transport weapons and run recce?

It seemed like a reasonable thing to do after they blew up your neighbors who were taking refuse in the school down the road from your house. Heck, you'd likely have gone there too if your family didn't ignore Israels warning bombs in order to protect the few belongings they had.

Nikolaz72:

ravenshrike:
So then the game starts you off as a young child being indoctrinated with propaganda that would have the Aryan Brotherhood's seal of approval as regards Israel? Then as a 14 year old boy Hamas starts using you to transport weapons and run recce?

It seemed like a reasonable thing to do after they blew up your neighbors who were taking refuse in the school down the road from your house. Heck, you'd likely have gone there too if your family didn't ignore Israels warning bombs in order to protect the few belongings they had.

It's less reasonable when those rockets are in response to suicide bombers and executed hostages during ceasefire, and also when we stop pretending this just started recently. The problem with our perspective is we have none.

 

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