March 14, 2004

Newsgaming’s Madrid

by Andrew Stern · , 12:35 pm

Via Watercoolergames, Gonzalo Frasca’s Newsgaming.com has a small new piece, Madrid, a simple homage to the victims of the recent bombings in Spain.

(Correction: Originally the above paragraph also listed Ian Bogost as a co-producer, but this was incorrect; some of the later comments in this thread refer to that original version of the post.)

I found my initial reaction to this piece to be different than how I felt about Newsgaming’s Sept 12. My reaction deals not with the simplicity of the interaction / behavior itself (an issue some had with Sept 12), or with the idea of paying homage to such an event in an interactive manner; I feel both are appropriate and have been done tastefully enough. It’s just that I feel a bit uncomfortable with the term game in this context. (Again, terminology…)

I suppose the term game for me still implies play, and if not necessarily pleasure, at least the thrill of the challenge. To me, those phenomena don’t match up well for paying homage to a tragedy. Or at least I haven’t yet found a way to think about it that makes me feel perfectly comfortable. (The term serious games works fine for me, since the scenarios it is applied to leave room for play, creativity and the thrill of solving challenges.)

So, again (1 2) this suggests to me that we need a new term or terms for interactive experiences that explore the nuances of people’s lives, emotional situations, the “human condition”, etc.

With Sept 12 I was more comfortable with the term game, since it quite effectively drew the analogy of the videogame-like mechanics of launching cruise missiles at the enemy from afar.

All that said, I think it’s brave of the Newsgaming folks to be experimenting with this form in this way. I look forward to seeing more experiments; sadly there seems to be no shortage of current events to react to…

By the way, I tried for a few minutes, but couldn’t “win” this “game”; I couldn’t manage to get the glow bright enough for whatever payoff you might get.

… oh… hmm… ah…