Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Warco: A war correspondent videogame

This looks very clever indeed—a contemporary first-person shooter game that isn’t about killing, but rather about reporting on a conflict. Quite apart from providing a very different player experience, Warco could well illuminate the difficult practical, moral, security, political and other dilemmas faced by journalists in the field. According to a new article at Wired and Ars Techina:

Warco is a first-person game where players shoot footage instead of a gun. A work in progress at Brisbane-based studio Defiant Development, the game is a collaboration of sorts; Defiant is working with both a journalist and a filmmaker to create a game that puts you in the role of a journalist embedded in a warzone. Ars spoke with Defiant’s Morgan Jaffit to learn more about this political game disguised as an FPS.

The game itself—the title of which is actually short for “war correspondent”—follows the story of journalist Jesse DeMarco. Players will experience the process of filming conflicts, going into dangerous situations armed with nothing but a camera. They will then edit the footage into a compelling news story. The scenarios range from intense bursts of action to quieter moments as you discuss the events of the day with fellow journalists in a hotel. Though the main mechanic will be filming the action, Warco is also very much about choice.

“It’s also about navigating through a morally gray world and making decisions that have human impact,” he explained. “It’s about finding the story you want to tell, as each of our environments is filled with different story elements you can film and combine in your own ways. It’s both a story telling engine and an action adventure with a new perspective.”

The scenarios are designed to mirror the recent tumultuous events in the Middle East and North Africa, in situations cribbed from Maniaty’s real-world experiences in the field.

Warco has been in development for four months and Defiant is currently in talks with several publishers to try and bring the game to a wide audience. When that will actually happen, and on what platforms, hasn’t yet been determined….

There is also more coverage at Gamasutra:

But Warco‘s not all about dodging incoming fire while filming, either. Jaffit described potential missions could involve driving around town and watching how troops interact with civilians, talking with fellow journalists while trapped in a hotel, or being escorted into a rebel camp for an interview with a leader that might not be too happy with your previous reports.

Jaffit said players will be encouraged to explore the game’s series of “linked sandboxes” to find secondary and hidden objectives as well. For example, stealthier players may find themselves sneaking around to film a handoff with an arms dealer, uncovering secret NATO support for one side of the conflict.

“We’re all about light and shade,” Jaffit said. “There’s definitely a place for action and the threat of death from troops on the field, but we’re also very much about those narrative moments when the threat is less immediate and you’re focused on the narrative and the people involved.”

“We would love to catch the quiet moments,” he continued. “If you watch news footage, if you watch a war documentary, if you watch a war movie, the parts where people are shooting at each other are smaller part of the narrative, an in a lot of ways they’re not the most interesting parts,” he continued.

It sounds like the kind of serious game that a university might put out as a free training simulation, but Jaffit is adamant that this new kind of war game experience can find an audience in the retail market.

Screen shots and other information can be found at the website of the game developer, Defiant Development. When it is released, perhaps we can even round up a few journalists to write a PAXsims review.

h/t @tahnok

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