[Literary Games Group] 27/4/2021 – Trauma in Games

Hi everyone,

This week we finished our first book as a group, Astrid Ensslin’s Literary Gaming! We had a discussion (sparked somewhat by the last two sections of the book) about the idea of games as vehicles for empathy. Are games that utilize trauma good games? Is it harmful to force us, the player, to experience trauma? What is the purpose of games as empathy generators? Often they are valuable in a subversive way, forcing us to approach standard game conventions from a different angle that mirrors back at us not a reflection of our skill, but of our qualities as a person. Who did we choose to save? Why did we decide to fire then? And so on. Questions that are fairly uncomfortable to answer perhaps, but questions that we are often better for, having at least attempted to answer them. Whether or not you agree that games should be used as a tool to teach empathy, they are a powerful medium indeed.

Now that Ensslin’s book is finished, we have the first chapter of another book lined up – Alexander R. Galloway’s “Gaming: Essays on Algorithmic Culture”.

We’re also continuing with The Dream Machine. It’s been a long chapter of the game, but I think we’re almost at the end, preparing to move onto the next game in probably two weeks’ time. I have really enjoyed this chapter of The Dream Machine though. I think it has come into its own, after a bit of a slow start, and a few patchier puzzles, that I am glad to see have changed into intuitive puzzles with some sense behind them, that don’t devolve into trial and error.

Hope to see everyone next week!

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