First Person Shooter – Rethought

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If it weren’t for developers like Defiant Development, you’d easily believe that creativity in the games industry is nearly extinct.

But those guys actually manage to take a really old and tired concept – i. e. a first person shooter – and spin it in order to make something else entirely:

A first person shooter.

Seriously. Hear me out.

Warco is a first-person game where players shoot footage instead of a gun. A work in progress at Brisbane, Australia-based studio Defiant Development, the game is a collaboration of sorts; Defiant is working with both a journalist and a filmmaker to create a game that puts you in the role of a journalist embedded in a warzone.

The game itself — the title of which is actually short for “war correspondent” — follows the story of journalist Jesse DeMarco. Players will experience the process of filming conflicts, going into dangerous situations armed with nothing but a camera. They will then edit the footage into a compelling news story. The scenarios range from intense bursts of action to quieter moments as you discuss the events of the day with fellow journalists in a hotel. Though the main mechanic will be filming the action, Warco is also very much about choice.

Well, this is how WIRED puts it, anyway. The developers obviously make it sound a bit more dramatic:

WARCO lets players shoot and record what they see ‘through the lens’ – framing shots, panning and zooming, grabbing powerful images of combatants and civilians caught up in war. They’ve got AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades – you’ve got a flak jacket, a video camera, and a burning desire to get the story. Every game space is embedded with multiple objectives and story leads for journalist Jesse DeMarco to find – a scoop if she’s smart, mortal danger if she drops her guard…

Record dramatic images of war, save them in-game, then edit the results into a compelling frontline TV news story. Beam the results to global audiences on the web. No two WARCO stories will ever be alike. It’s an edge-of-seat gaming experience – and a powerful entry-level training tool for future combat reporters. WARCO is perfectly timed to take advantage of the convergence of games and movies, journalism and online communities, in a world undergoing massive social, geo-political and technological change.

I’m definitely going to observe this project – mostly so because it will be interesting to see on which side they will go. Will it be the entertainment side, where it’s fun to run around and get the best headshot on camera …

… or the more serious side which criticises exactly that? How will the game deal between getting that scoop, that perfect image – and turning the camera off to honour the victims’ dignity?

“It’s also about navigating through a morally gray world and making decisions that have human impact,” he [Defiant Development’s Morgan Jaffit] explained. “It’s about finding the story you want to tell, as each of our environments is filled with different story elements you can film and combine in your own ways. It’s both a storytelling engine and an action adventure with a new perspective.”

Capturing that grey world is exactly what games should be after. So this will be one to watch.