One of the game ideas I have been working on is a First Person game where you are a war correspondent. The pictures you take will sway public opinion of the war, for the good or the bad, and will have an impact as to how the war plays out.
Now for my issue. Do to current events like the beheading James Foley and capture of other press make a game like this wrong or “too soon”
My game is not set in middle east, but will depict violence that may be directed at the reporter.
Well, first of all, war is there at all time… sadly. So for some people it’ll always be something wrong and you will hurt their feelings with it. However, now it is a very popular nad widespread topic, so you can actually start developing it, and just release it when time has passed.
Unfortunately, this is just the nature of modern conflict correspondence. This kind of thing has been going on for decades and reported by the media for almost as long and it will probably continue for many years to come. Don’t forget that it will take considerable time to develop the game, by which time fast-moving media will already have forgotten these events and may well be covering whatever has come since.
It’s tricky ground though, so you’ll need to be careful to treat the subject material with adequate respect.
While the news was tragic, I don’t think you should worry about that aspect, but on a couple of conditions:
Your game tells the story of the journalist, giving the player the choice on what stories get published etc shouldn’t be an issue. Telling the story from the journalists “enemies” (no matter which side of the war his enemies are from) could offend people depending how it was done, so I would stay away from that aspect and focus on the story of his struggle to cover the news and his own moral decisions, not the other way around.
Too soon is hard to say, for one thing if you have not started the game, it will not be released for quite some time. But also reacting to news that happens shouldn’t be an issue so long as you are not promoting capturing or killing. Games like Call of Duty (or other war games) might get called out for being similar to an event that occurs, but rarely does it become such a big issue that they pull or change part of the game in reaction to news, it usually blows over after some time. Plus in those games, you play the role of a soldier who has the ability to cause harm, a journalist is a much different approach at a war game, and if anything I can see a game like this being a positive thing as you are showing their perspective, struggles, and choices. This is highly dependent on who your audience is, but as long as you are sticking to being a “true journalist”, as in not taking sides but just covering the news, and tell that side of the story, I do not see why this would be an issue.
Again this is highly dependent on how you approach the game and how extreme of a level you take the violence to, but with a good story and character development, this could be a really good idea for a game, we rarely get to be the person observing the war and making choices on what is or isn’t news. I definitely think it can be done, and I think it could be a great lesson about morality and how the choices we make can affect the outcome of major events, I wish you the best of luck!
There is a lot of wrong with press today. Lots of news organizations are losing their credibility due to “subtle” changes like native advertising, sensationalism, political bias and many other problems.
Whether you should or should not publish your game depends on what your message is. Formulate message, put it into an emotional player driven story, let the player choose his path and ultimately arrive to your message. Sometimes people need a wakeup call, and there is no shame in giving them one.