Remember the Space Invaders vs The World Trade Center game that came out recently? We do, and it became the impetus for this week's installment of Destructoid Discusses! The gang takes the release of the controversial piece of art and brings a certain amount high thinking to the subject. I assure you, next week we'll have a more lighthearted romp with plenty of DMV's weird pictures.
Or maybe we won't; that's the nature of these discussions!
If no one is too tired to talk about it, why don't we discuss the Space Invaders game in respect to the idea that there is, or should be, a line drawn in the sand when dealing with certain things. Does making a game out of a tragedy make it art? Is that bullshit on a plate?
They made a movie about 9/11, so I think it's already becoming a less touchy subject.
I was reading, a few months ago, Ben Fritz' article about Civilization:Colonization, in which he says that it's irresponsible for a game to trivialize colonization. Whether or not Colonization trivializes the terrible things that happened in European colonies is up for debate as I've never played it. He said that the game "whitewashes" the events that happened and insults the legacy left behind.
I, on the other hand, say that it's irresponsible for games, as a medium, not to address these things. Eventually, we will have to move beyond space marines and aliens. As with any medium, there will be some games that address this more tastefully than others. But games aren't just for kids anymore, and we deserve to have games that deal with these types of issues.
First off, I don't believe in any sort of censorship at all. In my book, there should never be a line drawn in the sand about anything. As for my personal tastes, however, there are a lot of videogames and movies I wont play or watch because I personally feel bad about being entertained by the re-enactment of events of true human tragedy. I didn't go see Schindler's List. I hated Saving Private Ryan. I don't like any GTA past GTA2, and I hate WWII games.
And it's not only that the above games and movies feel bad to play and watch because they remind me so much of real human suffering, but they also just seem cheap. Can you make a movie about the Holocaust that's not depressing? Can you make a game about fighting the Nazi's in WWII that's doesn't make you feel like a hero? To rely on using real life events that are already emotionally charged for the populace takes less skill, me thinks.It also takes a lot more creativity to come up with your own scenarios and game concepts, which leads to a lot more personal expression.
Would it be totally offensive to play a WWII game from the Nazi or Japanese point of view? I would think most people would say yes (Not the people here, but in the general public).
Personally, I would find it no more or less offensive (or interesting) to play a WWII game from the "enemies" point of view. It is interesting to know that many people would be offended by a game of that nature, thought the average Japanese and German soldiers in WWII were just soldiers, no different than the Americans.
Come to think of it, I would be interested in a game where you play as a Nazi soldier who converts to side of the Allies after finding out how bad Hitler really is. Would I actually play that game? Probably not, but it would be more interesting that the standard "black and white, good vs evil" WWII scenario game developers continue to churn out several times a year.
I'd also play the hell out of Imagination is the Only Escape if good Luc Bernard gets it made (and gets it made well).
I actually wanted to make that game once. You start the game as a gung-ho Nazi soldier, unaware of the true horrors of his own regime, and thinking he's a hero, then slowly you get to see the truth of the matter. Sadly however, such a game would be shot down before it even got a chance, because most people aren't mature enough to hear about a game where you play a Nazi soldier without freaking out.
Or what about Call of Juarez, where you kill numerous Native Americans, which very few consider to be much of a tragedy anymore?
(The BioShock example was just to show you that there is a game where you convert from the bad side to the good side.)
Exactly, Jim. No one cares about people they don't personally know. How many Americans reading this ever cried for the Japanese who were killed by the atomic bomb? What about those in the Nazi concentration camps? Now, how many people cried over 9/11?
Though I would love to see Jim's game get made, overall I prefer games like BioShock, one that deals with real life themes in a non-real life way.
I like my games to be like weird dream, one that churns up bits and pieces of the things I know from my life experience, mix them up with all sort of screwed up stuff from my subconscious, and throw some random bits in for good measure. For the record, I like my games and movies to be like this too. Re-imagining real life is so much more fun than just recreating it.
John Holmes continued ...
Crap, I still haven't finished Braid!
You were warned!
Why did you read the Braid spoiler, John? I tried to warn you! I'm sorry!
Jim, wouldn't you say that Space Invaders meets 9/11 is a "fictional setting explore a factual subject"? (Samit, I'm not sure if the question mark goes inside or outside of the quotations there. Please don't kill me!) Obviously, it's in horrible taste, but is it actually bad?
A friend of mine once demonstrated this perfectly. He said this:
I have no problem with Space Invaders 9/11, but I wouldn't say it's what we're talking about. It very clearly is about 9/11. It's not a fictional setting. In fact, it's more like a fictional subject based in a factual setting.
I have no problem with Space Invaders 9/11, either. However, I do expect a lot of people will get really upset about it. I also expect that a lot of those people will not really understand why they are upset about it.
I think the problem with people freaking out over emotionally-charged games is that people don't expect that from gaming yet. They want to have fun and be entertained (which is totally fine.) People still think games are for kids, and the inability to see past that creates problems when designers start tackling more important themes.
When searching through google images for "9/11 art", I found this.
I read the Braid spoiler because I am a total narcissist and thought I already knew everything about Braid. My mistake.
I have to admit the topic is different based on who perceives it. I have no issues with games about war, even if they reenact real events, as long as they are portrayed accurately. I think the thing that hits too close to home with Space Invaders 9/11 is just that people I once knew died there, and I am intimately familiar with other major tragedies that have affected me personally. Worse than that, though, is that it makes LIGHT of it by combining a beloved videogame with the tragic event. THAT is the thing I have the issue with. How is that funny? Even if I had zero connection to any of these events, I would still view it as being in very, very poor taste.
Wouldn't a Science of Sleep game be awesome? It could be like Silent Hill 4, except not scary and with dating sim elements.
Wait, Silent Hill 4 already isn't that scary, is it?
I want my old Silent Hill back.
On Tigsource right now, they've highlighted a game called Muslim Massacre, from the guy who writes Electric Retard. I haven't gotten a chance to play it as my monitor can't handle the resolution (what?) but a lot of the commenters seem to feel that it's trying to do one of three things:
On the atomic bomb bit, it's not taboo because it was the lesser of the two evils. If we hadn't dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the U.S. would have had to invade Honshu proper, where the Japanese culture would have been wiped out. Not just because of U.S. soldiers, but remember, women were being trained with wooden spears to attack GIs, and kids were being taught to dive under tanks with bombs strapped to them. So, killing tens of thousands with the atomic bomb was better than the millions that would have died, not just on the Japanese side, but on the U.S. side as well, from an invasion.
Isn't that arguable? If we'd only dropped the one bomb I could more see where you're coming from, but we (many would say needlessly) dropped the second one on Nagasaki before Japan really had a chance to surrender proper.
Yeah, and I can point to bombing raids that the U.S. did to Japan that were "just to get into the history books" because of how massive they were. But if you want to simplify it to a number of deaths, the atomic bombs were the lesser of the evils.
If you want to simplify it to the number of deaths, DMV, I'm going to start calling you Joseph Stalin :)
Yay Atomic Bombs!!!!!!
What, too soon? =(
O SNAP COMMIE BURN
Aerox brought up the psychological perspective on empathy (i.e., it's very difficult to feel for people who you have no relation/connection to, unless the media browbeats you into it) yesterday, and I definitely believe that it applies. To what Jim said regarding "consistency" in not being offended at something -- regardless of your connection to the subject -- I submit that it's only human nature to laugh at everything until the butt of the joke is something you were personally affected by.
Dyson, I'm glad to see that you've noticed my pride in the Motherland.
The deaths of thousands is nothing more than a statistic to you, isn't it you pinko bastard?!
Was the Space Invaders thing supposed to be funny though? I'm not sure. I haven't researched it fully, but, the more I think about it, the more it makes some sense. Like Anthony mentioned, there is a certain level of the artist's intent that needs to be considered, but, as far as I can tell, this guy wasn't trying to be funny.
In an article, the artist said this:
If my own men won't charge the enemy and die for the glory of Russia, even if we haven't given them guns to fight with, they deserved to be gunned down. There's no room for cowardice in our trenches.
Didn't Russia gun down their own men? I think they did. Your propaganda wrapped in patriotism holds no sway over me, young Czar.
I find the 9/11 Space Invaders guy's pretentious fuckwittery far more offensive than a million Twin Towers jokes. Just for the record.
And that's where we ended this week's post. Or, this is where the discussion actually starts? Maybe the artist's game actually did cause people to question exactly how they view events? That may be the case, considering the conversation you just read.