Wednesday 7 November, 2018
I played some more 1979 Revolution: Black Friday tonight was impressed with what I played. I got up till after the dinner scene with the parents. It feels like the game is really trying to simulate the frustration of being involved in a revolution. I constantly feel like I am missing crucial information to make the best, informed decision about who I want to be supporting and how. My concern, however, is that this might ultimately reveal itself to simply be bad writing as opposed to adding to that internal conflict and frustration. Adding the rift between the parents and how the father had been through this with his own revolution was also a nice touch. However, I took issue with a certain plot point during my time with the game.
During the theater section, it is revealed that there is a mole within the resistance what tried to kill the leader. After your pictures donít leave you with a clear culprit, you are left to explore the theater interacting with various people trying to figure out who the culprit is. Eventually the police will start trying to get in and you are forced to make a decision about who you think the mole is. No matter who you pick, you then jump back to the interrogation that is taking place in between the flashbacks and you are informed that you accused the wrong guy and that they were found dead a few days later. The problems with this are two-fold. First, you are unable to pick the correct person, but you are forced to make a decision. This makes this choice ultimately pointless, as the outcome is already the same. I didnít even have a likely suspect and more or less picked at random. This makes the ethical dilemma within the game fake and ultimately meaningless beyond providing an illusion of choice and a tense moment, but neither really works given the lack of likely suspects and apparent feeling that there is no right answer. However, there is also an ethical dilemma within the creation of this segment itself.
The game lets you know if you read some of the stories that some of the characters within its fiction narrative are based upon real people, however it is not overly transparent with who is and who isnít based upon a historical figure. As a result, the player is unlikely to know if any of the potential culprits are based on real people. Portraying the historically inaccurate death of a historical figure, even if it doesnít technically represent them, feels problematic, especially in a game that has a clear goal of educating people about the real event. Even more of an issue is the fact that the player is choosing which of these characters who might be based on a real person is going to die. Even if they arenít technically aware that is the decision they are making, it is still ultimately what happens. This idea of playing with the lives of characters based on real people seems problematic both as a representation of that person and as a depiction of historical events. Even if none of the possible culprits are based on historical figures, which is likely given you do ultimately get to choose who dies, it still feels as though the game should be more clear about what is being pulled from history and what has been added to support the narrative given the game draws so much from a specific historical event and clearly aims to inform the player about said event given its numerous facts and historical photos littered throughout the game. The line between fact and fiction in this game remains blurry as it gets to pick and choose what is pulled from history and what exists from its narrative.
Does the game, or any form of media really, have a responsibility to inform the player where the line between fact and fiction lies when it frequently blurs the too. Iím inclined to say that it might. Whereas films based upon true events get away with occasionally dramatizing events or even adding additional characters, the line feels less blurred because it usually saves its potential facts and image comparisons for the end, whereas they are interspersed throughout the gameplay here. When the game is so adamant about informing you about the actual event and showing the copious attention to detail throughout, the line becomes blurred a lot more easily, especially when the story doesnít appear to have an historical accuracy and tells a strictly fictional tale riddled with nonfiction.
Overall, I continue to enjoy my time with the game despite its numerous technical shortcomings, and feel it is starting to tap into some really interesting decisions people in such a scenario might have to face. I do continue to struggle with how blurred the line between fact and fiction remains in the game. I look forward to completing the game however and seeing how it wraps everything up and if it better illustrates how much it drew from reality within the game.