Some time ago, I talked about how I felt uncomfortable with judging An Aspie Life as a game. Today however, I want to look more into its premise.
An Aspie Life is a game where you play as someone with Asperger’s Syndrome. In this game, all the visuals, sound, mechanics and interactions are reflective of what the author, who himself has Asperger’s, goes through on a daily basis.
The idea that a game can serve as a documentary of someone’s life is an interesting concept. And certainly, video games are extremely suitable for conveying what a person goes through because of the interactive nature of video games. In a film, TV series, or a book, the audience is limited to listening and seeing the events that happened. However, in video games, we can actually take part in the events that had unfolded.
Aside from that, as the interactions between characters in the game are controlled by the devs, we can actually experience the same things that they do, and possibly even feel the way they felt during those events. Take An Aspie Life for example, the graphics are stylized to better convey how people with Asperger’s view the world to others. This interactivity is a boon when it comes to documentaries.
Of course, there are definitely downsides to this. First of all, there is definitely a greater barrier to entry in making games, as compared to writing or making a video. Granted, there are more game-making softwares and resources that makes it easier for laymen to make games, but the point still stands: making a game of acceptable quality involves way more work and expertise as compared to books or videos.
The interactivity in games may prove to be a curse too. Some details that are never considered by the devs as significant, or are just there as filler, may be wrongfully interpreted as something important. Games, due to their interactive nature and having less control over what the target audience may experience in general, may end up having some tiny details disrupt the whole narrative the devs were going for. It’s basically the Literature 101 problem of over-analyzing something made more more possible due to the greater interactivity of video games.
Lastly, there is one problem that video game documentaries have it worse than books or films. Documentaries and biographies are only interesting to people who cares about the subject matter and is extremely boring to everyone else. For video games, where most people are used to catharsis and fun unless you like walking simulators, MOBAs or Daikatana, it will be a much harder sell unless your documentary is on someone like Simo Häyhä, whose story can be easily adapted into a conventional game.
Still, the potential of having video games as documentaries, detailing what someone experienced, whether it be the events of a larger-than-life figure or a day in the life of an insignificant person but with an interesting tale to tell, is a promising one. The interactivity of video games may just let people better understand each other, and form a powerful method of communication between different social groups, or from a minority group to the larger populace.