March 23, 2010

Let's play the fun Rwanda game!

In Gamers Defend the King Philip's War Game, someone helpfully explained the purpose of war games to us. Here are his comments and my responses:We get an insight into human nature, often at its worst, that keeps us honest and makes us reassess what lies within. It makes us think.Does a war game make you think about anything other than "human nature at its worst"? Because our culture has stereotyped Indians as savage killing machines for about 400 years. How does the King Philip's War game do anything but reinforce this stereotypical view?We ignore our nature at our peril.In this case, you mean the Indians' nature. The nature that led them to fight vicious, ruthless wars involving scalping, torture, and mutilation. According to the white man's view, that is.

We don't need to learn more of this stereotypical view of Indians. We need to learn less of it. In fact, we need to learn its opposite.

You implied the goal was understanding. How does the game contribute to a true understanding of the Indians' nature: their intelligence, their creativity, their spirituality? To their thousands of contributions to the arts and sciences? Answer: It doesn't.

Anonymous favors genocidal gamesModern wars have been no less bloody and goodness knows the atrocities continue--news from Angola, and Serbia, and Rwanda speak to how little Man has changed in the last 300 Multiman Publishing is thinking of producing a Rwanda game? Good idea. One side can play the Hutus and try to kill as many people as possible. The other side can play the Tutsis and try to keep as many people alive as possible.

Just as John Poniske did in the King Philip's War game, we can make up an arbitrary goal to determine the winner. If the Hutus kill more than 800,000 Tutsis, they win. If they kill less than 800,000 Tutsis, the Tutsis win.

I assume an experienced game developer like Poniske can factor in all the Rwandan war crimes. For instance, if a Hutu rapes 10 Tutsi women, it's equivalent to one dead Tutsi. Remember, the goal is historical accuracy, so we'll want to include a plausible gang-rape factor.

Poniske uses a die to introduce a random "fog of war" factor, which will work here too. For instance, when the Hutus surround a village, the Hutu player rolls three dice. Depending on the outcome, the Hutus rape anywhere from three to eighteen Tutsi women. Another roll of the dice determines how many women live through the ordeal, get pregnant, or die of injuries or shame.

Looking forward to Rwanda game

This is starting to sound like a really instructive game about the nature of modern warfare. I'm gonna strongly encourage Multiman Publishing to pursue it. Are you with me, gamers?

Reread your comments above, Anonymous. Wouldn't a Rwanda game teach us about the horrible but true history of warfare? About the dark side of human nature? About "what lies within"? Yes, I think it would.

Since understanding these things is supposedly your goal, give me a valid reason for not producing a historically accurate Rwanda game. Good luck with your'll need it.

For more on the subject, see Train the Holocaust Game and Designer Defends King Philip's War Game.

Below:  The colonists win a game of King Philip's War. Yay!


John said...

What are your thoughts on the movie "Hotel Rwanda", Rob?

Rob said...

I give it a 7.5 of 10. I guess I was underwhelmed compared to the critics who loved it.

What are your thoughts on the applicability of this posting to the King Philip's War game controversy? Why don't we get into that before you start criticizing me about something else?

John said...

I wrote a lengthy reply, but it seems like the blog ate it. Hopefully writing something else will rise it out of the ether. :(

John said...

Okay, through extensive use of the Back button, I think I've managed to retrieve my lost post. Knowing my luck, now it'll come up twice...

Don't worry, there is an actual point to this tangent, which I'll get to eventually. :)

See, with "Hotel Rwanda", though did get praise for its presentation of the conflict, it is a film, not a historical document. In the process of adapting to a dramatic medium, simple, objective presentation of the entire history and context of the conflict takes a back seat to finding a narrative that best fits the nature of this medium. In this case, a 2 hour drama focusing largely on one man and his family, with much emphasis placed on the strength of Don Cheadle's performance rather than going into detail on the expansive history of the war/genocide in Rwanda. But is the movie vulgar and offensive for packaging the war in a manner that it can be provided as what is ultimately entertainment?

Your hypothetical Rwanda game is a more extreme example, absolutely, but as you've presented your argument here the very act of adaptation, of framing a real life conflict around the rules and conventions of a dramatic medium, is an act of dishonesty and disrespect. So is the film guilty of this very practise of sanitization that a war game is guilty of? Or rather than the adaptation, is it the mechanics of war gaming itself that you object to?

To bring it at last back to King Philip's War, whether it's the former or the latter, There's nothing Poniske could have done in his actual execution of the game to sway your opinion of him. The very decision to even make the game in the first place left him doomed, as it's not his handling of the game mechanics, but the very mechanics of the game itself (or even the very process of adapting the war in any way) that is the problem.

10th Little Indian said...

The Media as a Selective Source and not Facts (part 1)

I disagree with John in that viewers, especially in America, have a longstanding tradition of taking film, media, TV and news as fact and not manipulative. There are actual documentaries done where the American viewer will dispute and even argue its validity.

Hotel Rowanda does have, in its Special Features, short documentaries with Paul Rusesabagina, the actual hotel manager, showing skeletal remains of Tutsi children and fellow countrymen slaughtered by Hutu militiamen. How is this "just a film" and not a documentary if included with the film?

Nick Nolte portrayed Colonel Oliver, the United Nations Peacekeeping officer in charge. The actual Colonel Oliver stated some lines in the film were never said by him, one in particular was the bar scene where the Colonel regretfully tells Rusesabagina the world does not care about your plight in so many profane words.

My reasoning for this reply and stance on film is that Hollywood has been an active part in shaping the American culture and ideas, politically and socially especially. The public at large has always been swayed by media since colonial times. From the thought that Geronimo was actually a "whiteman" because no savage could really be intelligent enough to evade the US Army; or the idea that aliens from outer space actually built the mounds and pyramids eastern tribes did; or that L. Frank Baum, of The Wizard of Oz fame, stated in regards to Natives;

"The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians. Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; better that they die than live the miserable wretches that they are. History would forget these latter despicable beings, and speak, in latter ages of the glory of these grand Kings of forest and plain that Cooper loved to heroise."
Each of these three examples are actual trains of thought that still exists in the American mind and behaviors. Thus, how does one expect there to be any educational intent or compromise with the entertainment industry when it is used as a propaganda wing of the government?

Were there not films produced in Hollywood during WWII to rally Americans against the "axis of evil", not only demonizing Japanese, Italian and German as enemies of war, but their cultures as well?
(continued on next post)

10th Little Indian said...

The Media as a Selective Source and Not Fact (part 2)

If you read the newspaper editorials from the Daily Oklahoman at or any publication across the country, you will see that much of what I say is still an existing phenomenon, where fiction and emotional stance in newspapers and the media, is true to believe but the actual facts of current and past history are considered, "politically correct", yet even as I type this editorial, Microsoft word is programmed to capitalize the word, “whiteman” with a red line underneath it.

Michael Moore's documentaries are prime examples. Where much of what he produces can be regarded as tainted and manipulated views, but he does raise some good questions about the current state of this uncivilization.

Recently in Washing DC, Tea Party protesters were vulgar and racist, but no matter how much video and audio Americans seem to witness, there is a comatose response and ignorant lack of acknowledgement that it is even reality. Many still do not believe the Holocaust took place or that Kennedy may not have been assassinated by his own government.

Ever heard of Eugenics? Francis Galton, the father of Eugenics was knighted in 1909 and had adherents in the US who successfully lobbied for "laws mandating sterilization of the "unfit" in 24 states. In Germany, caring for the "unfit" ill and infanticide were legal. How true is it that Native American women were sterilized in the US through the newly formed IHS back then since the Department of the Interior who still oversee Native policies was originally named, the Department of War.

My theory is that "whatever unjust policies were handed out to minorities throughout American history is now applied to all Americans, regardless of race, only it is now and has been for some time, class and economic divisions that keep Americans segregated today”. Non-Indians, or Anglo-Americans, cannot grasp the concept that their government can turn on them even though it has been the norm of relations with Natives since Christopher Columbus and that sacrifice, whether it was Sand Creek; the Civil Rights era; the Japanese internment camps and Asian discrimination in general or the Latino and Mexican's current and longstanding oppression are somehow "okay" and that whites in America should not endear discrimination or suffrage as a sacrifice for this great nation, if it is a great nation. Sacrifice is not only about dying on the battlefield for American freedom, sacrifice also entails the dignity of its people when they are faced with hard economic times and disillusion of our beliefs in what our nation should be.

dmarks said...

"Microsoft word is programmed to capitalize the word, “whiteman” with a red line underneath it."

I've never seen that word. Isn't that a mispelling of some kind?