A Bonus Level in IWM London

Today, I visited the Imperial War Museum London and viewed an interesting exhibition supported by Rebellion, a video game company. It was called War Games. I didn’t even know this exhibition until I reached the museum. It costed me 4 hours to read, think, and understand this bonus level. The theme of the exhibition was exploring the relationship between video games and conflict, and investigating key video games that challenge our understanding of war.

The exhibition was divided into five parts:

  • War’s drama and tragedy make for compelling stories.
  • A brief introduction to games, including war-related board games and video game narratives.
  • Examples of excellent war games such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, Arma 3, Sniper Elite 5, and Wolfenstein 3D (1992).
  • How video games make people experience the real side of wars.
  • An outlook about how games will shape future wars.

The flow and design of the exhibition were great. It used common language in games to guide the audience, making it attractive. This reminded me of the book “Level Up!”

There were two parts that I particularly liked. The first was an interview about why war-related games are so fascinating. Chris Fuller, the Associate Professor of Modern US Foreign Policy at the University of Southampton, explained that “Real war is not fascinating or entertaining. It’s horrific. But the version created for films and video games is fast-paced, emotive, exciting. War provides a great setting for entertainment with potentially sky-high stakes and stunning visuals and visceral action and moving stories. So we’re fascinated by a hyper-reality version of war, a burring with realistic aesthetic, uniforms, movements, weapons, aircraft, tanks, aircraft carriers, with this completely inaccurate action to create this commercially appealing version of war.” He revealed the core of a war-related game that attracts people, which was a perspective I hadn’t previously considered and was innovative and thought-provoking.

The second part I enjoyed was the interviews with game designers about why they created their own war-related games. For example, the designers of Six Days in Fallujah shared that they found lived marines, soldiers, and Iraqi civilians in the war and listened to their stories. They then simulated these emotions and experiences in the game. For instance, marines described the incredible fear they felt about the unknown. They never knew what was on the other side of the door, which was terrifying. At the same time, marines also described the profound trust they had in each other to pull them all the way through. The designers successfully simulated these feelings.

Six Days in Fallujah

“You go in expecting a firefight. It doesn’t always happen obviously, and you never know when it’s going to happen. So you’ll clear a house and then you leave it and you’re like ‘Man, I made it out alive!’ And you immediately start to fear the next house.”

Designers picked out the emotions they wanted to provide accurately and then vividly simulated them using their design skills. This is truly my goal as a game designer.

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