We've been playing video games about war for as long as I can remember, and I'm old. What does that mean? And why do video games struggle to make statements about war in the way movies like Apocalypse Now have? These are some of the questions that a panel of Academics and Game Designers (including Cory Davis, lead designer of Spec Ops: The Line) are looking to answer at SAE Institute on November 24.
Warfare, on one scale or another, has long been a common theme of games, from Chess and Go to Call of Duty and Civilisation. War is also common in other media, such as film and literature, yet rarely do we see games which call to question the morality of war in the manner of Apocalypse Now, Slaughterhouse-5 or Catch-22. Why does this gap exist? It is clear that people enjoy ethically challenging works; our struggle with moral ambiguity is what makes these titles great. Our games seem shallow in comparison. How do we change this?
How do we design gameplay which meaningfully engages a player’s ethical sensibilities? Is it just a matter of writing? Or are there more fundamental problems to be addressed with gameplay as a medium? The Workshop on Games, Ethics and War will be a gathering of designers, writers, philosophers and psychologists looking at these questions from a variety of perspectives. Keynoting the workshop will be Cory Davis, lead designer of Spec Ops: The Line, Michał Drozdowski, lead designer of The War of Mine, and Jose Zagal, editor of the Videogames Ethics Reader.
The event kicks off at 6pm and is scheduled for two and a half hours. Sounds super interesting.
You can find out more about the event, and buy tickets, here.