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Online Games Recreate Real Tragedies

Online gaming technology has developed right along with developers’ senses and sensibilities. Tech wizards are no longer interested in creating only fictional environments; they’re wanting to revisit some actual events—tragedies—as well, reported the New York Times.

On the list for actual or planned online games are: the raid on David Koresh’s compound in <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Waco, Texas; the Heaven’s Gate suicides; the Unabomber; the Columbine shootings; and of course, Sept. 11.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
“As flames crackled and the wind howled through a gash in the skyscraper’s wall, a gray-suited businessman wandered in a daze through the smoke,” read the New York Timesdescription of the online game “9-11 Survivor.” “Unable to find an escape route, he suddenly strode toward the sky and leaped.”
 
The game, no longer online, allowed players to move through a rendering of a burning office atop the World Trade Center and meet one of several ends: burning in the fire, jumping from the tower, or finding a stairwell to safety.
 
The game was never a full-fledged product—only a class project developed by three students at the University of California, San Diego. It appeared online briefly over the summer and has since been removed, due not to complaints, the Times reported, but to expensive Web hosting fees.
 
“As better graphics technology has made games more visually realistic, digital artists have been using 3-D game environments to recreate real places and simulate recent events,” wrote the Times. “In the process they are turning what has been a platform for pure fantasy into a medium for social realism.”
 
C-Level, a media lab and “art cooperative” in Los Angeles, has developed a game called “Waco Resurrection,” in which players must assume the persona of cult leader David Koresh and try to escape the besieged compound.
 
“Waco Resurrection” is part of C-Level’s planned videogame series called “Endgames,” which uses gaming technology to explore apocalyptic events. Other planned games will focus on “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski and Heaven’s Gate cult leader Marshall Applewhite, according to the Times
 
Dteam 3D Design Team is in the process of creating “Doom for Columbine,” the Times reported. The game’s creators told the newspaper they want to show the world that games are games and nothing more—not a springboard to violence.
 
The creators have also explained their plans and intentions on a Web site, www.doomforcolumbine.com, stating that no teachers or children will be portrayed. Instead, gamers will target people “who are setting bad examples to our youth by promoting violence as a global policy.” The creators have George Bush, Charlton Heston, the Ku Klux Klan and others in mind.
 
The trend has gamers themselves discussing a sort of “gaming ethics.” They are now debating the moral difference between simulations of these events versus those of Viet Nam or World War II, for example.
 
“Is it disgusting to base a game around the 9/11 incident or a tribute?” wrote gaming Web site Thunderbolt. “The answer is most likely the former, but the moral issues such projects provoke are what makes this kind of thing news.”