04.07.11

How Can Games Learn From War Documentaries?

Videogames enjoy the benefit of hindsight as other mediums are both aware of their limitations and can teach game designers much about their respective crafts. Over at the Guardian, film maker Kevin MacDonald reflects on the reality of conflict that he’s captured through his films. 

In particular, he points to the problem of authenticity as the first-person shakes found in videogames have affected the way that people perceive the realism of a particular film.  This is, of course, ironic — games are moving towards precision while MacDonald notes that the imprecision is exactly what makes his subject matter, in the eyes of the viewer, captivating:

There is no doubt that the advent of lightweight, cheap digital cameras has made the filming of combat much easier than it was. We are all now accustomed to the blurry immediacy of “helmet-cams” with their computer game-like first-person point of view. In war films, even more than in other kinds of documentary, we’ve come to think that shaky, poor-quality footage is somehow more authentic than something classically “well shot”. (This rough aesthetic even dominates Hollywood action movies these days, most notably in the Bourne films.) One of the selling points of a film such as Restrepo is how raw it is. If it’s this badly shot supposition goes, then we must be going to places where a professional film crew can’t. It somehow cancels out our natural and justified suspicions of the very concept of “embedded” journalism

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