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the3rdItalianPlumber

heart-wrenching historical event simulator

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Hello All,

I just thought to throw out this idea that I had a few years back. Half-Life inspired me by in-game storytelling. It occurred to me that one could do the storytelling without the game being the focus at all.

1. Incredibly realistic world based down to the detail on Auschwitz concentration camp.

    a. The player is a child in Auschwitz. He has a first person perspective being by the side of his father, living happily, then getting frustrated in the ghetto, then being taken away to the camp. etc.

The reason I'm interested is because the first person perspective with in-game storytelling has the potential to give that human feeling; That human connection that i feel like this person is a real person (the NPC)

So it could be used to tell morally important historical tales in an extremely heartcutting manner.

2. Likewise realistic world based down to the detail on the current troubles in say..Somalia.

    b. The player is some innocent or morally neutral character. By experiencing the events in-game, the player gets a perspective she/he never would have otherwise, and understands much better the situation over there.

 

etc. etc.

#gamesforgood

 

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Sure.

Maybe I'm just a chicken, but I would stay away from actual historic events, or at least from actual historic evens within a few generations of living memory.  There's just too much potential for doing it wrong or evoking unintended reaction.  The same stories can be told in other settings without such risk. After all, the human condition is the human condition regardless of century, religion, or race.

This is the joy of science fiction: you can tell a story about the people of today by telling a story about the people of tomorrow.  You have the added advantage of making your story a warning that it has happened before, and it could happen again.

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Maybe I'm just a chicken, but I would stay away from actual historic events, or at least from actual historic evens within a few generations of living memory. 

Eh, I'm not so opposed to the idea. After all, we have many films tackling these issues in many ways, fictional and non-fictional. But it requires extreme care to treat the material properly and present things in the right way. Even then, those things are not free of controversy and one must be ready for that if this path is to be explored.

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Lots of historical games at GamesForChange and Games4GoodFoundation.
It's a perfectly valid thing to do. But like Promit said, they have to be done
right. Nobody wants another "Playing History 2: Slave Trade" controversy.

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There is thousands of books about the WWII and Auschwitz memories, it's not going to be hard to find a story to portrait if you really want to, but I wouldn't do that. From my experience, whenever you tell someone that a game is inspired by historical facts the answer is "Yeah, sure, but there's surely fiction behind". In other words, just by saying the game is portraying real events, you obtain the opposite effect. Build a fictional history, someone with no name, and let people investigate it, I think it could create a stronger connection between the player and the simulation.

Two small notes on side: first, don't believe that just because the game is set in such a place, it's going to be easy to create empathy. I have been to the real Auschwitz myself, and it was so crowded, so "touristic", that it wasn't possible to create a strong connection with the place. Instead, I cried like a baby while visiting sainte mere eglise, a small city in Normandy. They had the D-day museum, it was full of letters and stories that I was forced to imagine myself in such a context. And second, I am not sure that using first person would be the best option, visualizing the character and its changes throughout the experience can create a bigger empathy, but again, this is just a personal opinion.

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Narrative-based story-focused games are in fashion right now, so you're in luck. However, most of these games... well... suck. There are certainly some notable games that stand out for not sucking, but it's a very hard thing to do well. When you set out to make the story the main focus and the gameplay only secondary, your story and characters better be damn good and exceptionally well written. Besides just being poorly written, one mistake this type of game often makes is being too heavy-handed. You can't cram empathy down people's throats. For this reason, your example of Auschwitz makes me cringe. It sounds far too easy to make this too heavy-handed. Tackling current events problems sounds more promising to me, but you better be very, very familiar with the issue from all sides to pull it off, or else you risk just making a propaganda piece.

Also, I agree with Freefly that i would not make this a 1st person game. Maybe make 1st person an option? Everyone has different opinions, but for me making it first person would do the exact opposite of what you want. games in 1st person further remove me from them, make me feel less connection because I can't see my character, it's like I'm a floating observer. Think about it, movies are all about creating a connection between the character and the audience. A movie that fails to do that is a failure no matter what else it does well. Yet how many movies have been made in 1st person view?

Because your games are historical pieces based mainly around story you would have to be very careful to get all the historical details right. Much more so than if your game was more fictional or more focused on game play so people could more easily ignore inaccuracies. So you are open to a lot of criticism there too if you get it wrong.

In conclusion, your idea is not a bad one, and even follows a certain current fad for games that are very light on gameplay and instead story-focused. But there are a lot of things you have to be careful of, and it can be hard to get right. However, if you do get it right, it could be a great experience.

Edited by HighTreason

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Maybe I'm just a chicken, but I would stay away from actual historic events, or at least from actual historic evens within a few generations of living memory. 

Eh, I'm not so opposed to the idea. After all, we have many films tackling these issues in many ways, fictional and non-fictional. But it requires extreme care to treat the material properly and present things in the right way. Even then, those things are not free of controversy and one must be ready for that if this path is to be explored.

 

 

The problem is the name of the medium. It's called video gaming. The term 'game' inherently implies that it will automatically not be something meant to be 'serious', but it's just a 'game'. I myself don't believe that, and many people here probably don't agree, but there's a lot of others who've never touched games who would believe that and therefore find the notion of a game based in history inherently 'disrespectful'. 

 

If we call it 'interactive story-telling' or 'interactive story', for example, the perception changes. You're telling a story that is 'interactive' not a 'game'. 

 

Just my 2 cents though.

 

The idea has merit, but it's really perception of the medium that can bring it down. Something to be careful of, especially with how you market it and present it.

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Maybe I'm just a chicken, but I would stay away from actual historic events, or at least from actual historic evens within a few generations of living memory. 

Eh, I'm not so opposed to the idea. After all, we have many films tackling these issues in many ways, fictional and non-fictional. But it requires extreme care to treat the material properly and present things in the right way. Even then, those things are not free of controversy and one must be ready for that if this path is to be explored.

 

 

The problem is the name of the medium. It's called video gaming. The term 'game' inherently implies that it will automatically not be something meant to be 'serious', but it's just a 'game'. I myself don't believe that, and many people here probably don't agree, but there's a lot of others who've never touched games who would believe that and therefore find the notion of a game based in history inherently 'disrespectful'. 

 

If we call it 'interactive story-telling' or 'interactive story', for example, the perception changes. You're telling a story that is 'interactive' not a 'game'.

True. Luckily for him, the so called "serious games" are a rising trend. Many research institute have used videogames as media, and I've worked on some of those myself, you'll find a lot of material about it :)

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