Reading Response #6

From Chapter 6 of Artful Design, I would like to respond to Principle 6.5, which states: REFLECTION – GAMES AS MIRROR OF OUR HUMANNESS. Despite being a big fan of strategy games, including StarCraft 2, and action games, such as Cuphead, I always favor games that tell stories. Just as what Ge has discussed about That Dragon, Cancer on page 325, this kind of games offers a life simulator that enables players to experience life completely different from their own, presenting truth and human nature that they otherwise will never have a taste of.

Recently, I have played a game similar to That Dragon, Cancer called Moncage. It is a game with quite simple mechanics where players have to rotate a cube with various scenes on each face to match sections of objects from different faces, triggering events on either face. Along with the alternate update of these scenes, players basically live the life of the main character, starting from his childhood, launching the rocket, joining the army, and ending in struggling to recover from the war. For most of us, it is really lucky to live in a relatively peaceful country and period, and Moncage is trying to warn us about the possible damage brought by war. The scene striking me the most is when I looked through the main character's eyes in the bar after he has retired from the military, dartboard becomes gun target, swallow becomes fighter aircraft, and orange becomes bomb. This reminds me about the protagonist of Slaughterhouse-Five, who also suffers from severe PTSD from war and claims that he could travel through time. Immersed in the desperation, some players start to find the surprise from Moncage. Hidden under the core interaction, there is a peripheral design that players can collect photos from all scenes. If players are able to fill up the album, the true ending will be activated, where the struggle is just a dream, the war has already ended, and there are flowers blossoming all over the hill. Moncage, apart from revealing the horror of war, still wants to give its players hope that the world is not that bad.


Even without the form of game, gamification induces reflection of humanness as well. A movie named We Are Little Zombies focuses on four children who lose their parents at about the same time and are unable to cry out. The director then gamifies the process of bringing objects that dominate their memories with family sequentially as picking up game items and leveling up. That is exactly how one of them views the scenario since his item is a game console from his parents, the only window connecting him with the world. In fact, this amusing game setting further evokes our reflection on family relationship and encourages us to feel children's world patiently.