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Subject: Is it in bad taste to make a game based on recent tragic events? rss

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Grant F.
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Movies seem to do it all the time.

Of course, I do not mean to upset or remind people involved in a tragic event, but there could be interest in making a game so people are more aware. This could have a positive effect. It would have to be in good taste if it is possible.

Generally after x many years the potential is there, as time has a way of making things less memorable then it it is fresh.
 
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It all depends how you approach your subject.

~V
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I think it depends on the time, but also on the event in question.

I'm not sure any amount of time would be enough to make a game about the Twin Tower attacks, but you could probably make a game about the events at Waco or the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster and people would probably be ok as long as you were respectful about it.
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Well, King Philip's War caused kerfuffle, 330yrs later, so .... as with all things, it depends.

As for the comparison to movies ... I would say the general consciousness seems to think movies can be "serious" and therefore can serve as commemorations and celebrations of serious subjects.

The idea of "serious" games, unfortunately, has not gone over. The word "game" may have too much baggage. You can try calling it a "simulation" and that will sound better, right up until the first outrage-y person comes along and calls your "simulation" "just a game".

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Bruiser419 wrote:
I think it depends on the time, but also on the event in question.

I'm not sure any amount of time would be enough to make a game about the Twin Tower attacks, but you could probably make a game about the events at Waco or the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster and people would probably be ok as long as you were respectful about it.


IDK there's Pearl Harbor, which was published 36 years after the attack. Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ? was not about 9/11, but is based on the ongoing war that directly followed it, and it's been out for 7 years now.

There's a matrix of factors: how heavily it weighs on a society, how much time has passed, and how you handle it. With enough time and a thoughtful enough treatment, you can talk about some really intense topics. (e.g. Freedom: The Underground Railroad)
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Chris Willett
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Veero wrote:

It all depends how you approach your subject.

~V


This is the answer. You could make a game that is insensitive about something hundreds of years ago (look at slavery examples in board games). If you are insensitive, it really doesn't matter how much time has past. Freedom: The Underground Railroad is a great example of handling something sensitively. Slavery is central to the subject, and the game handles it well to me, the white guy from the Midwest.

But for a more immediate example, look at Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ?. Its expansion even brings it to more recent events, but this game is sensitive and is not meant to glorify terrorism. Instead I think it does a good job of being a historical look at terrorism, and if you are playing the extremists, it makes their strategies more evident and understandable. That said, setting a game immediately after 9-11 is probably not going to offend ZERO people. But I think they do it well considering the subject material.

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Vernon Evenhuis
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Regardless of how respectfully done it might be, you need to ask yourself how you'd feel if you saw folks playing a board game themed to an event that perhaps you'd lost a friend or family member to. If the answer would be "angry" or "upset", then maybe it's not such a great idea.

That being said, I've played dozens of WW2 war games since the 1980s, and four of my uncles shipped over to Europe to fight in that war. That seems really double-standard to me...
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White Knight wrote:
Regardless of how respectfully done it might be, you need to ask yourself how you'd feel if you saw folks playing a board game themed to an event that perhaps you'd lost a friend or family member to. If the answer would be "angry" or "upset", then maybe it's not such a great idea.

That being said, I've played dozens of WW2 war games since the 1980s, and four of my uncles shipped over to Europe to fight in that war. That seems really double-standard to me...


I don't think that's a double standard at all, and I think the asking of the question is a fantastic way to go about it. "If this were about me or someone close to me, would I be upset," puts you in someone else's shoes. It's a perspective exercise, and mostly what it accomplishes is making sure that you're considering how you make other people feel.

Until recently, the general consensus has been that fighting Nazis is noble, and that honoring and glorifying people who gave their lives trying to stop them is a good thing. It's easier to look at a game about WW2 and see it as supporting and empathizing with our loved ones than, say, the little brown tokens for the slaves in Puerto Rico. In other words, your perspective and the perspective of many people designing WW2 games align. Puerto Rico's perspective is aligned AGAINST peoples who have been subjected to the effects of colonialism and slavery, so it's more likely to make somebody who has subjected to those effects "angry" or "upset."

It's fully possible to make a game from the perspective of a colonized people, and in fact when it has been done who are ideologically or socially aligned with colonialism think it's in poor taste.
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Fact is, you will always find people who will get upset over everything, whether justified or not. I can think of many games recently that people got upset over... Five Tribes-slave cards- and this game was based on a book which was based on a period of time long long ago.

I forget the name of the kickstarter whaling game that had people in a fit.

Shut up and sit down even found ways to criticize the game Istanbol.

Sad thing is all of these games received more crticisim then the games Secret Hitler or any game with killing people in it.

At what point in society did killing/murder take a back seat to all the rest.

Now I don't care one way or the other how someone feels about a game or life in general but at least be consistent about it.
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Cosmonaut Zero wrote:
White Knight wrote:
Regardless of how respectfully done it might be, you need to ask yourself how you'd feel if you saw folks playing a board game themed to an event that perhaps you'd lost a friend or family member to. If the answer would be "angry" or "upset", then maybe it's not such a great idea.

That being said, I've played dozens of WW2 war games since the 1980s, and four of my uncles shipped over to Europe to fight in that war. That seems really double-standard to me...


I don't think that's a double standard at all, and I think the asking of the question is a fantastic way to go about it. "If this were about me or someone close to me, would I be upset," puts you in someone else's shoes. It's a perspective exercise, and mostly what it accomplishes is making sure that you're considering how you make other people feel.

Until recently, the general consensus has been that fighting Nazis is noble, and that honoring and glorifying people who gave their lives trying to stop them is a good thing. It's easier to look at a game about WW2 and see it as supporting and empathizing with our loved ones than, say, the little brown tokens for the slaves in Puerto Rico. In other words, your perspective and the perspective of many people designing WW2 games align.

WW2 games aren't all about "fighting Nazis." Someone usually has to *be* the Nazis (or more accurately, the Germans).

The problem with White Knight's approach is, taken literally, it could eliminate all kinds of games. E.g., What about an automobile themed game for someone who recently lost a loved one in a car crash? I might not play the game with that person, but should we not play such a game at all?

And why should this "rule" be any different for movies and books than games?
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You can't control how people will react, nor are you responsible for how they react. It is their problem.

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TOPofDaMuffin2U wrote:

I forget the name of the kickstarter whaling game that had people in a fit.


New Bedford - It's a great introductory worker placement game.
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Grant F.
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History it is often told by the victors. Each side in a conflict deems their side the righteous side.

As a neutral person I wonder what one learns from the telling of conflict from just one side?

American movies by and large always portrayed the other side as the faceless enemy. I was tired of seeing history told by one aide that seemed lopsided.

I wanted to find out how the "other" side viewed things to get a proper perspective and balance.

Thus, I watched a few Japanese movies to see the war from their perspective. It was more out of curiosity than anything. Not surprisingly they paint their war as a "justified" war.

Being in the West, I don't believe that, but I can see how mediums that are mass marketed can affect people's attitudes. Don't know if Euro board games are considered mass market, but certainty video games and movies are.

I do like games that are fun but also make you think of history and our place in this world. There are bound to be controversial as interpretation is subjective.

No one will ever know the truth about everything. If you were on the losing side, wouldn't you want to know why you lost and if your cause was really justified? I guess you would be offended if it was personal so you don't want to hear from the other perspective at all.

No one will make a game about the Twin Tower attacks, Vietnam war to the finest details but there has been excellent documentaries about them.

Vietnam in particular I was surprised by the balance told by the recent documentary. You will never see that level of impartiality in China or Russia in public. If you do it will be suppressed.




 
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Prop Joe wrote:
Cosmonaut Zero wrote:
White Knight wrote:
Regardless of how respectfully done it might be, you need to ask yourself how you'd feel if you saw folks playing a board game themed to an event that perhaps you'd lost a friend or family member to. If the answer would be "angry" or "upset", then maybe it's not such a great idea.

That being said, I've played dozens of WW2 war games since the 1980s, and four of my uncles shipped over to Europe to fight in that war. That seems really double-standard to me...


I don't think that's a double standard at all, and I think the asking of the question is a fantastic way to go about it. "If this were about me or someone close to me, would I be upset," puts you in someone else's shoes. It's a perspective exercise, and mostly what it accomplishes is making sure that you're considering how you make other people feel.

Until recently, the general consensus has been that fighting Nazis is noble, and that honoring and glorifying people who gave their lives trying to stop them is a good thing. It's easier to look at a game about WW2 and see it as supporting and empathizing with our loved ones than, say, the little brown tokens for the slaves in Puerto Rico. In other words, your perspective and the perspective of many people designing WW2 games align.

WW2 games aren't all about "fighting Nazis." Someone usually has to *be* the Nazis (or more accurately, the Germans).

The problem with White Knight's approach is, taken literally, it could eliminate all kinds of games. E.g., What about an automobile themed game for someone who recently lost a loved one in a car crash? I might not play the game with that person, but should we not play such a game at all?

And why should this "rule" be any different for movies and books than games?


As far as WW2 is concerned, my uncles all came home without a scratch, so I don't feel any pangs of guilt or feel strange when I'm shoving counters representing human beings into an assault on a bunker, knowing half of them will be "killed", but what about a French civilian survivor of the bomb raids on Caen or the family of someone who was KIA, or even worse yet, a victim of "friendly fire"? I love history and I feel that making games about historical subjects can be extremely informative and might spark a persons interest in the subject, but when does a recent, painful event become history? When all the people whose lives were torn apart by that event have passed on? I don't know the answer to that. My uncles have all passed away, and even if they knew I played Panzer Leader or Squad Leader (they didn't) I'll never know how they might have felt about it. I think that, since I was born in 1965, I always perceived WW2 as history. Maybe that was what made me ok with gaming it. I didn't live it.

Let me ask this. Knowing there are thousands of injured Gulf War and Afghanistan vets out there right now, along with families of men and women killed in action, would you be ok pushing around chits representing them? I don't really know. What does everyone else think about this?

I agree that if the approach I wrote above in my first post is taken literally, it would rule out many, many games (many of which I likely own). I guess maybe it's just a common sense thing.
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TOPofDaMuffin2U wrote:
Shut up and sit down even found ways to criticize the game Istanbol.

Let's be fair: They only, mildly, criticized the Kebab shop promo, which most people don't have.
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lucky henry wrote:
You can't control how people will react, nor are you responsible for how they react. It is their problem.


Bosh. Sometimes that's true, but as with many things, it all depends on context. If you call someone an incredibly racist epithet, they will react badly. I suppose you might argue that it it's their fault for being so sensitive, but I'd argue that's your fault for being a nasty jerk. I think most people would agree.
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Veero wrote:

It all depends how you approach your subject.

~V

Or sometimes just the subject. It's true, every subject will offend somebody somewhere, but some subjects seem more prone to it.

Games about murdering individuals seem to create more "ew" reactions than wargames. For example Letters from Whitechapel or Whitehall Mystery

Games even seeming to involve slavery get people up in arms: Puerto Rico. Games with actual slavery, like Five Tribes before the change, are much worse. Even Freedom: The Underground Railroad rubs some people the wrong way. (I sold it because I felt weird moving slaves around, even though I was trying to rescue them).

I'm a sensitive bleeding heart liberal but I like wargames. Some folks, however, won't play them because of the theme.

Secret Hitler, however, I dislike. Something about someone actually being Hitler in the game bugs me. It seems to lessen the weight that his name should have in our culture. Then again, folks I respect like the game just fine.

What subjects are off limits? I imagine most folks would draw the line at a Euro where each player was trying to rack up the most kills as a mass shooter targeting unarmed people, like Las Vegas or Orlando. Or maybe I'm wrong.
Poll
Would you be bothered/offended by the theme of a mass shooter trying to rack up the most kills, like Las Vegas, Orlando, or Sandy Hook?
Yes, very much.
Yes, some.
A bit.
Not at all.
      171 answers
Poll created by skutsch
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skutsch wrote:
What subjects are off limits? I imagine most folks would draw the line at a Euro where each player was trying to rack up the most kills as a mass shooter targeting unarmed people, like Las Vegas or Orlando. Or maybe I'm wrong.


Make it about shooting zombies and few people will even bat an eye at it. Like I said, it all depends how you approach your subject.

I'm reminded of Tomorrow, a game that addresses the subject of planetary overpopulation, but its approach makes many people uncomfortable. Would it encourage the same level of dialogue with a softer, abstract, or fantasy approach? Hard to tell, but likely not.

And, to answer your question specifically, war profiteering is generally an off-limit subject for me. I feel it's one of the most despicable acts in modern times, and I am hard-pressed to think of an approach that'd make me okay with playing a game addressing the subject. Not even the fantasy veneer of Battle Merchants was any good at it... again, for me. For others I'm sure it was just fine.

~V
 
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Veero wrote:
skutsch wrote:
What subjects are off limits? I imagine most folks would draw the line at a Euro where each player was trying to rack up the most kills as a mass shooter targeting unarmed people, like Las Vegas or Orlando. Or maybe I'm wrong.


Make it about shooting zombies and few people will even bat an eye at it. Like I said, it all depends how you approach your subject.

But shooting zombies is a very different subject. Zombies are already dead. People are people. Or Soylent Green.
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skutsch wrote:
Veero wrote:
skutsch wrote:
What subjects are off limits? I imagine most folks would draw the line at a Euro where each player was trying to rack up the most kills as a mass shooter targeting unarmed people, like Las Vegas or Orlando. Or maybe I'm wrong.


Make it about shooting zombies and few people will even bat an eye at it. Like I said, it all depends how you approach your subject.

But shooting zombies is a very different subject. Zombies are already dead. People are people. Or Soylent Green.


I disagree about it being a different subject. You're still shooting people... especially in the context of zombies being a metaphor for western-culture sheeple. Even when they're not being used for that metaphor, the zombification of people allows the player to emotionally detach themselves from their actions... zombies are easier to see as objects than anonymous people are. We can do anything we want to unclaimed objects w/o suffering much moral introspection.

~V
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Veero wrote:


I'm reminded of Tomorrow, a game that addresses the subject of planetary overpopulation, but its approach makes many people uncomfortable. Would it encourage the same level of dialogue with a softer, abstract, or fantasy approach? Hard to tell, but likely not.


Nuclear War is a similar game, without the strong reaction. Perhaps because it's older and not on peoples radar.
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Veero wrote:
skutsch wrote:
Veero wrote:
skutsch wrote:
What subjects are off limits? I imagine most folks would draw the line at a Euro where each player was trying to rack up the most kills as a mass shooter targeting unarmed people, like Las Vegas or Orlando. Or maybe I'm wrong.


Make it about shooting zombies and few people will even bat an eye at it. Like I said, it all depends how you approach your subject.

But shooting zombies is a very different subject. Zombies are already dead. People are people. Or Soylent Green.


I disagree about it being a different subject. You're still shooting people... especially in the context of zombies being a metaphor for western-culture sheeple. Even when they're not being used for that metaphor, the zombification of people allows the player to emotionally detach themselves from their actions... zombies are easier to see as objects than anonymous people are. We can do anything we want to objects.

~V

Dude, dude, dude, DUDE.

Zombies are not alive. They have no personality. They are soulless. They may be metaphors for lots of things, but outside of metaphor, they're just animated meat. You might as well scoop out the brains of some dude and replace them with some simple robotic controls. Shooting robots, even flesh covered robots, is not the same as shooting people.
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skutsch wrote:
Veero wrote:
skutsch wrote:
Veero wrote:
skutsch wrote:
What subjects are off limits? I imagine most folks would draw the line at a Euro where each player was trying to rack up the most kills as a mass shooter targeting unarmed people, like Las Vegas or Orlando. Or maybe I'm wrong.


Make it about shooting zombies and few people will even bat an eye at it. Like I said, it all depends how you approach your subject.

But shooting zombies is a very different subject. Zombies are already dead. People are people. Or Soylent Green.


I disagree about it being a different subject. You're still shooting people... especially in the context of zombies being a metaphor for western-culture sheeple. Even when they're not being used for that metaphor, the zombification of people allows the player to emotionally detach themselves from their actions... zombies are easier to see as objects than anonymous people are. We can do anything we want to objects.

~V

Dude, dude, dude, DUDE.

Zombies are not alive. They have no personality. They are soulless. They may be metaphors for lots of things, but outside of metaphor, they're just animated meat. You might as well scoop out the brains of some dude and replace them with some simple robotic controls. Shooting robots, even flesh covered robots, is not the same as shooting people.

Yup, one possible way of approaching a subject is by turning into objects some aspects of that subject players can be emotionally conflicted over.

~V
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skutsch wrote:
. . .
Poll
Would you be bothered/offended by the theme of a mass shooter trying to rack up the most kills, like Las Vegas, Orlando, or Sandy Hook?
Yes, very much.
Yes, some.
A bit.
Not at all.
      171 answers
Poll created by skutsch


Your poll shows what is meant by "it all depends on how you present it" - you ask "Would you be bothered/offended by the theme of a mass shooter trying to rack up the most kills". Now lets change the question to "Would you be bothered/offended if you were playing a first responder or people being shot at during a mass shooting event, where you must choose whether to get away or stay and help others (such as choosing to hold a door shut and getting shot to death to save a room full of students)?" Do you think your poll responses would be quite the same? Yeah, the general tend would hold (most would not like to play such a game), but I would not be offended by that game while the original presentation disturbs me somewhat. (...and only somewhat, because what is the difference between being a mass shooter racking up points and playing any other pit fighting arena game where you are rewarded for beating up/killing foes like the goblins in their homes that you barged in to rob blind?)
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I think if one has to ask if people will be offended, the answer is yes. Comedy (I assume that's the intent) relies on gut instincts to work. Jokes that were edgy 20 years ago might not be edgy today, they might fall flat, or they might be perceived as despicable.

Personally, I think the upper limit of "anti-PC" comedy has been reached. At this point the kinds of people who search out these games aren't doing so for laughs, they are doing so because they need something inside them to be justified or expressed, like a bottled up frustration or something. I find CAH, Secret Hitler, and all the derivations to be desperate and boring, not offensive.

I know people who I went to school with who were murdered in mass shootings, right in their own home. I wouldn't be "offended" if such a game were made, I'd just think that it's one more nail in the coffin of civic life for this country (USA). Know what's really interesting? Being original and funny at the same time. That is pretty hard to do.

Any comedian can get on a stage and make rape jokes and talk about how Christianity is stupid. You're asking if jokes about airplane food can be funny, my answer is "get some new material."
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