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Game On War In Syria Explores Ongoing Conflict 62

arclightfire writes "So while games have come under spotlight via the debate about the causes of the tragic school shootings in the U.S., it is worth remembering that games are now a broad medium and far from all games are FPS games. Even those about war are not now just about shooting, as Endgame:Syria shows by covering an ongoing war; 'The subject matter for Endgame: Syria should not however be looked on from a trivialized angle; people and civilian casualties are dying every day over in Syria.'" The game is part of a series from Auroch Digital.
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Game On War In Syria Explores Ongoing Conflict

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  • Of course this raises the moral question of "what's off limits for a game" - but also - "what's a game?".

    Does something have to be "fun" to be a game? Is this the definition of a game (as opposed to say a "simulation"). Or is a game a "simulated environment where there is a win condition"?

    Interested to hear slashdotters thoughts.

    • There doesn't even need to be a win condition. Some of the classic games go on forever - pacman, tetris. The objective is to either maximise a score or keep the game going as long as possible.

    • by Johann Lau ( 1040920 ) on Sunday December 23, 2012 @09:05AM (#42374551) Homepage Journal

      I can't define what a game is, but I know that chess works even when stripped down to the bare mechanics... and if you stripped these games down to their bare mechanics, they might still be games, but most of them would be more or less identical (at least if you consider the maps as input to the game just like players are, not as not part of it's rules). Because of that I'd say they are definately nowhere near as much the games they're perceived as.

      What is called "game" these days often enough is just a vehicle for story-telling, super idiotic story telling at that. You know, you wouldn't be able to sit through most of these stories as movie, unless there was a lot of action or hot people in it. And you wouldn't be able to take it as a slideshow on the computer/console, either! So you get to mash a few buttons; that way you feel involved and stay on the petri dish.

      That wouldn't be a problem if the people who told stories and their stories amounted to shit -- I am sure you could make a "pseudo-game" about (the effects of) war that has something to say... those games probably exist, they're just rarely hyped, are they.

      But you cannot make an actual war game, not really, since war isn't so much about the pong/galaga/pacman mechanics that are used to portray them, as they are about propaganda and using the masses -- and not in an RTS way either, that just simulates the "general grunt" instead of the "infantry grunt". War is waged by planning in super comfy rooms with huge desks -- it's about profit and numbers, not about individual actions. Knowing that it's pretty much clear than 99.9999% of all war games obfuscate war, not explore or simulate it. They are just extensions of power, they are part of those wars. They keep even the people who are not currently out there being hired killers safely embedded in the fabric of war.

      • I don't wanna leech karma off Ian Bogost and Jonathan Blow, who for me are the Noam Chomskies of gaming haha, so if you found this post interesting, you will LOVE these two lectures, and maybe more you can find under related videos, exploring indie games, and what games are or could be:

        Ian Bogost on Serious Games [youtube.com]

        "[,,] there's some line that divides games that are beneficial from games that are harmful. It's not really my business to draw that line today, I don't wanna try and convince you exactly what's be

    • "What's in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet." (Juliet)

      So what's in a game? The subject has been discussed by folks far more eloquent and persuasive than I; but hey, this is Slashdot so what the hell. In some ways trying to define what 'game' means is akin to defining art; grasping at the wind. I think you're pretty close to the mark with your latter definition, although as sibling posters suggest the win condition is not necessary, and the concept of winning itself has been toyed with as a mechanism (see UnwinnableByDesign [tvtropes.org]). "Fun" is hardly a necessity either,

    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      Theoretically, there could be other forms of interactive art that's not a game. I just haven't seen one, maybe we got too fixed on the gamer mindset to think about anything else.

    • by khallow ( 566160 )

      Of course this raises the moral question of "what's off limits for a game"

      What's "raising" this question?

    • Does something have to be "fun" to be a game?

      A game has to be fun to be relevant. If it isn't fun, it might still be a game, but it doesn't matter since no one's going to play it unless forced to, and if they are, they'll just go through the motions while daydreaming.

      But of course the straightforward answer to your question is: it depends entirely on how you define a game, and thus varies depending on the context. Which, in this case, is "convenient scapegoat".

  • . . . half the schools in the world would be empty by now. Just think of how many people in the world play these games.

    Recently, the Connecticut killer has been labeled "a basement dweller." Maybe basements are the cause, and should be outlawed . . . ?

    Ancient cultures have always played some sort of war games in tribal ceremonies. It prepares the young for the real thing.

  • I despise the 'Witch Hunt" style analysis of the affect(or is it effect?) of video games on children. That's like the 'church' in medieval times saying things were bad just to say they were bad. I'm sure they said 'Studies find that....' right before they sentenced someone to death too...

    The point here is, video games are n o t t h e p r o b l e m. The problem is the lack of familial support for the nations troubled children / adults. Families are far more detached now than they have ever been... I think

  • Look at the network-related news. That's all you see is articles about Syria, just like we saw about Iraq and Afghanistan, as if any of they needed our help shooting them. This big issue about Syria is: they fed soldiers and materiel into Afghanistan and Iraq. We're still reading from Paul Wolfiwitz's big book of war. Stop it!

    • You are wrong. What is happening in Syria is this. The totalitarian but secular Baath Party has overreached and the citizens got fed up. The citizens started out with peaceful protests but eventually turned to weapons. This is the Revolution. It has evolved from this situation and the Revolution has been co-opted by a jihahist movement (incited, funded and supported by the Saudis and Qatar). They seek to turn Syria into a member of the global Caliphate.

      So if you think that the news about Syria is some p

      • Well, we didn't seem to mind when this happened:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rwandan_Genocide [wikipedia.org]
        Because there was nothing in it for us?

        The bottom line is: We have a lot of problems to attend to right here without becoming involved in the internal politics of a sovereign nation.

        • Here is the fundamental difference between Rwanda and Syria. The Rwandan Genocide was horrific but it was a national tragedy. It was not as if the Tutsi and Hutus were going to export their fight elsewhere. The fight in Syria has regional and global ramifications - that's a huge difference.

          The fight in Syria is of interest to the West because the jihadis fighting there are working to establish a *global* Caliphate (according to their own words) that is coming to an area near you as soon as they can do it

  • I will never forgot the map of the eastern Mediterranean after playing the old game Conflict: Middle East Political Simulator http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conflict:_Middle_East_Political_Simulator [wikipedia.org]. It runs beautifully in dosbox and is available at abandonia http://www.abandonia.com/en/games/24764/Conflict+-+Middle+East+Political+Simulator.html [abandonia.com] Air Force Commander burned the map of the middle east into my brain at a very young age. It also runs in dosbox and I found it at the home of the underdogs if anyb
    • by tylernt ( 581794 )

      after playing the old game Conflict: Middle East Political Simulator

      Thank you for mentioning the old DOS Conflict. I spent many an enjoyable hour playing that game. Only now in hindsight do I realize how nice it was to have a fun yet challenging game that wasn't a cliche side-scroller, RPG, or FPS.

      It's kind of funny... often when I played Conflict, I'd try to nuke somebody and still win the game... never succeeded. Perhaps that was the game designer's subtle way of saying the nuclear option is a no-win scen

  • As a child I was an introverted little nerd kid. My father was a police officer who retired from the department when I was four or so. We had a snub nose 38 police special in my parent's closet, loaded and unlocked, and I always knew where it was. I was taught what it was, how dangerous it was and that I wasn't to handle it without my father present.

    As I grew older I of course played games. I was given a modem at one point, and on a BBS I found the anarchist's cookbook. It told me how to make all sorts of d

  • Can this not be framed into a category of obscene material? This and violent video games? I know this raises touchy First Amendment issues here in the US.

    Obscene material alone is considered a touchy subject, child porn is generally universally accepted as obscene and not protected by the First Amendment. The act of producing it in the US and most of the world is criminal.

    With regards to this particular circumstance, I feel that a violent videogame about a current violent actual real life tragic
    • Ok, going over the article a second time, this game appears to be a more intellectual venture into interactive commentary on war? An interactive performance art piece?

      My previous comment above still stands, but isn't directed towards this particular game in question.

Order and simplification are the first steps toward mastery of a subject -- the actual enemy is the unknown. -- Thomas Mann