Friday, 30 April 2010

Choose your own war

I thought I might carry on with the rough 'First World War computer game' track with which I began.

Apologies to any of the people from the ISFWWS who have already seen the links I emailed around.

This is a Canadian game called 'Over the Top' and is modelled on those generally awesome 'Choose your own Adventure' books which made my childhood far more exciting than it would otherwise have been.

Now the actual game setup is pretty good, the choices and results etc are interesting. However it does have many of the 'blood, mud, death' qualities that you expect form the dominant view of WW1.

We have to discuss though whether this is always going to be the inherent issue with attempting to craft narrative entities (such as computer games) around a conflict that, for the vast majority of time, was incredibly dull for the participants and elements of danger were often implied rather than constant. Nobody is going to want to play a game where you spend large portions of time sitting around and doing nothing, with 3-4 days in the front line and the rest moving between the reserve lines and behind the front on work duty.

At least with the image of WW2 there is the perception of forwards movement (post D-Day when most games are set) and progressive combat. The huge set-piece battles of WW1 would probably translate well into a computer game format (look how many times the Call of Duty / Medal of Honour games have reproduced the Saving Private Ryan beach landings or the Enemy at the Gates battle for Red Square and Stalingrad) but would that be enough? Also given how the war is usually portrayed, would your controlled character die in the end? Doesn't seem right really.

That's not to say that you can't have games focusing on WW1, I think you probably could.

The question is; where do you draw the line on an 'acceptable' trade off?

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