Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Killer: 'doodling, genocide, and experiences on the road'.

Here's a link to an excellent new interview with gametrekker Jordan Magnuson: 'I released a new notgame from Cambodia today'.  The notgame, a powerful interaction with Cambodia's genocide, speaks for itself, and really deserves a play through (it takes about four minutes, and only requires holding down the space button, so no excuses about complexity or lack of time): The Killer.  As one reviewer on Newgrounds states, 'This game [. . .] says more than all the news on TV'.  

Asked in the interview why so many of his 'games' deal with such dark themes, Magnuson's response was a powerful reminder of why we need art in the first place -- to help us see the world truly, and remind us of all we have forgotten about each other, about pain, about life.  To help us feel rightly, and encounter rightly:  
Yes a lot of my games and notgames deal with dark themes. Some of them deal with death, killing, genocide. I don’t think these are the only themes that games should be addressing, by any means, but I do think they are important themes that need to be addressed precisely because of the thoughtless and insensitive ways that games have addressed them in the past. When you think about it, nearly all of the games we make are already about death, already about killing, already about genocide.

But the expression of these things in our games has become so abstracted and dehumanized that we no longer recognize them for what they are. Death, as perceived through most of our computer games, loses almost all of the meaning it has had in the context of human lives and relationships throughout history. Thus, when it comes to the most significant themes in human experience, computer games have the tendency to strip meaning and significance out of those themes, strip empathy and understanding away from the people who play them.

I’m not saying I’m against RTS games, or chess, or even first person shooters. I’m just saying that for every game we have that makes life and death abstract to some extreme degree, I think we also need a game (or notgame) that solidifies them, humanizes them, reminds us of what we used to know about them.

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