Disaster Report: A Different Take On Survival

Disaster Report: A Different Take On Survival

In the wake of this year’s Japanese earthquake disasters, a game called Disaster Report 4 was cancelled, and all its earlier iterations were removed from Japanese shelves. Insert Credit has done an interesting write-up about the circumstances surrounding the game’s removal and why it should stay.

The Disaster Report games put the player in the shoes of someone trying to help others and themselves after a disaster has struck — sometimes the player succeeds, sometimes they fail. While it may not seem unusual for a game of this nature to be pulled from shelves after an event like the Japanese earthquakes, closer inspection reveals that it makes little sense to remove the game from sale.

Hamish at Insert Credit writes:

… despite the garish way they’re marketed in the west, the Disaster Report titles were really quite slow and respectful games. Their subtlety is immediately visible in the trailers and Japanese boxart, which is soft and innocent. They don’t promise the thrills or graphical punch of some games. They only promise that they will try and show you what it is like to be a person escaping from a beautiful and welcoming environment that has suddenly become hostile… In the games, you try to help people, but sometimes they die. There may be something you can do about it, something difficult and frightening. But often there isn’t. Coming to terms with this is evocative — it is not great art, but it is sincere.

He continues:

“How would you or I go about making a game about death? Bearing in mind that in almost every game ever made there is an awful lot of ‘dying’. In video games we drown, we have our bones crushed, we are burned into paralysis. What usually happens then is that the screen fades out, fades in, and there we are again, standing where we were a minute or so ago, right as rain.”

The piece is a fascinating read and gives pause to consider ethics and morality in games. Often we’ll be quick to criticise a game for its realistic depiction of violence and death, suggesting that it trivialises the issue, but we’ll readily accept a censored and softer approach to the same heavy subjects. This isn’t to say that one approach is more moral or even better than the other, but it’s something worth thinking about. When death is treated respectfully and realistically in a game, will we be ready for it?

[Insert Credit]


  • Seriously, we need sooooo much more insight and analysis like this from the gaming media instead of just reviews and previews. It’s stuff like this that makes me respect games writers.

  • Hmm, this looks like the kind of game I wish Disaster: Day of Crisis was more like. More emphasis on saving people and the human aspect, rather than an action game where you just save the occasional bystander.

    • Or I Am Alive. I was pretty excited for that game but then they went and turned it into a rather generic action game. Still looks alright but not as good as it initially promised.

    • Actually the game thrusts the morality question on you more often than not by the system itself. For example saving/helping someone means a helping hand on some obstacles making them easier to pass but also having to feed/split supplies meaning survival gets that much harder.

      One of the best example points was when your character stumbles upon a lady trapped under a metal girder only held up w/ precious food and water supplies. Do you save the lady and loose the supplies (also compromising your own supplies in the process) or take the “selfish” option of taking the supplies (thus leaving the lady to die).

      The fact that the game is rather open worlded itself where the only objective is to “survive” means you can tackle the game’s obstacles in very many ways. And there is no “right” way to tackle the world just how “moral” you want to be.

      • Bleargh!

        Forgot to mention Disaster Report was the first one in this series so you can’t fault it too much.

        Actually I would have like to have seen a port of no.3 outside Jp because it had a nifty multiplayer feature where you could create a party of people to help each other out during the game.

  • Hearing the game was cancelled made me =(

    Saw a feature on the series a while back before it was going to be released and was really quite interested in the dynamics of the game. It was kinda like playing the Lost in Blue games where you’re concern was survival but with the added bent of morality choices (ie. do you save the girl or get the supplies?)

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