VG boundaries 4

Cinematic Realism or Historical Fiction? Mafia 3: the AAA title that attempts to simulate history

After reading Bees’ compelling post (“Who Get’s to Escape”, VGA1) I’m most struck by the questioning of how can players engage in conversations of their experiences towards a particular game when an individual player’s cultural experience determines how they can identify with the notion of escapism. Aside from the idea of escapism as a mental mode of disengaging with one’s reality, escapism can also be understood as fantasy, meaning an escape to radical and dystopian virtual realities that can be wishfully and longingly applied to our societal sense of what is or could be real. Essentially this would be the inverse to games such as Southpark and GTA that capitalize on the presumed experience of a singular type of player and draw on addressing issues in popular American culture at the expense of stereotyping marginalized groups. Specifically, I turn to a rare AAA title developed by Hangar 13—Mafia 3 (https://mafiagame.com/), that invites players to play through the experience of a Black Vietnam war veteran set in 1968, New Bordeux (fictional New Orleans). Everything about the themes and setting of this game engrosses the player in the racial setting and landscape of the time period, drawing heavily from the likes of James Baldwin and Jim Brown to inform the political voices of the time. From uncomfortable moments such as being racially profiled by police while open roaming in the game, to moments of social justice when main protagonist Lincoln Clay straps a corrupt (white supremacist) politician’s body to a statue of Andrew Jackson to send a message to the Italian mob, while extreme in dramatism and violence, offer an immersive experience that can draw people from many different experiences to engage in what Mary Flanagan describes as “subversion”. Subversion as a creative act can be thought as an example of a game that can stimulate conversations that question the reality of our political structures in a meaningful way, I would argue is a form of escapism. Despite this, certain aspects are draining from the perspective of people who live through the many real-world instances of racial inequality. While being reminded of the racism in American culture may be counter to the idea of escapism, how can we find more balance in using games to challenge our sense of societal reality while honoring the accuracy of history?

 

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This entry was posted on May 13, 2018 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , .

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