PHO705: Video Documentary and Video Gamification – WW1

Gamification

The topic is an odd strand of research concerning how if at all, images from a gaming platform could be considered for use within an MA project. A look-see reveals a YouTube review. (Zommin, 2016)

  • Take-away points from this research are:
  • The most brutal war didn’t get much attention in gaming.
  • When it is represented, there is an element of caricature borrowed from gaming
  • Of the few games, there are rendering WW 1; the tendency is towards flying and air combat.
  • An early technology implementation of one flying game was put forward for crowdfunding but failed to raise sufficient funds

One game stands out as a modern technology representation, and that is The Battle of Verdun France, in the video game Verdun. (Blackmill Games, 2017) Pursuing Verdun as a game on XBox video console is likely to be unfruitful. Rather than be critical and halt the further investigation of video gaming, it would make sense to at least experience the game and see what can be found in the visuals. Already found is a reminder of the quote “You will be home by Christmas”.

Verdun as a video game proved relatively unpopular and can be taken as an indicator of the dying interest at least amongst the game-playing public.

Perhaps implied is an only minor public interest in the theme of WW 1. The observation is reflected in comments received during a review and again at an external presentation. For many current generations, there is no personal experience or recollection of WW1. It is a play on memory loss that caused the project to be taken up. Dry data records are transformed into tangible memories of people, of the remote family, before living contact is lost, and all that remains is data, certificates, files and the like with nothing to connect the these into a story.

The emphasis on flying for a publicly accessible game probably says something about a lower interest in land warfare.
Thinking this through also expands the idea to other more standard forms of broadcast video as evidenced by various series of documentary programmes.

Video Documentary

Reference broadcast television.

  • World at War
  • They Shall Not Grow Old (Jackson, 2018)

The latter has helped address a problem of why close relatives did not mention their loss.

An assumption is challenged as to the cause being an immense sense of loss and need to protect well being and that of others. From the quotations below, the light is shone on the demobbed soldiers reports on the attitudes of civilians:

  • People never talked about the war. It was the thing that had no conversational value at all. 
  • Most people were absolutely disinterested. 
  • When I got home my mother and father didn’t seem the least interested in what had happened. They hadn’t any conception of what it was like. 
  • There was no reason anyone of a million of us should get a thank you for getting a little bit muddy and having lost touch with good manners. 
  • On occasions when I did talk about it, my father would argue points of fact that he couldn’t possibly have known about because he wasn’t there. 
  • Every soldier I’ve spoken to has experienced the same thing. We were a race apart from these civilians and you could speak to your comrades and they understood but with civilians, it was just a waste of time. 
  • However nice and sympathetic they were. The attempts of well-meaning people simply reflected the fact they didn’t really understand at all. 
  • I thin the magnitude was just beyond there comprehension. 
  • They didn’t understand that people you’d known and played football with were just killed beside you. 
  • My friend who enlisted with me just lay there like a sack of rags until he went black before anyone thought to bury him. 
  • They knew that people came back covered in mud and live. But they didn’t know the strain of sitting in a trench waiting for something to drop on one’s head. 
  • You couldn’t convey the awful state of things where you lived like animals and behaved like animals. 
  • People didn’t seem to realise what a terrible thing that war was. I think they felt that the war was one continual cavalry charge. They hadn’t any conception, and how could they? 
  • It started off in a reasonable manner but with horseback with swords but they didn’t know it developed into something ghastly. People don’t realise the potential of military equipment. 
  • A man’s life wasn’t worth anything at the end of the war. 
  • None of us were heroes you know. We didn’t like this business of being killed at all. 
  • We were talking amongst ourselves. We used to say Christ we won’t have any more wars like this. 
  • How did we endure it? The answer must be partly the fear of fear. The fear of being found afraid. Another is a belief in human beings and colleagues and of not letting him down. 
  • There may be right on both sides, but I think war is horrible. Everything should be done to avoid war. 
  • I still can’t see the justification for it. It was all really rather horrible. 
  • I think history will decide in the end it was not worthwhile. 
  • The only thing that really did annoy me was when I went back to work after I got demobilised. I went down the stores and the bloke behind the counter was a bloke who I knew. He said where have you been? On nights?

From: They Shall Not Grow Old (Jackson, 2018)

Summary

The issues and the ethics of incorporating other work within a photographic project come to the fore. Balancing this is:

  • Acceptance that family archive material may be incorporated
  • A work such as War Primer 2 (Broomberg, 2018)

Bibliography

Blackmill Games (2017) ‘Verdun’. Netherlands: M2H Blackmill Games. Available at: https://www.ww1gameseries.com/verdun/.

Broomberg, A. and Chanarin, O. (2018) War Primer 2. London, [England]: MACK.

Jackson, P. (2018) They Shall Not Grow Old. United Kingdom: BBC TWO. Available at: https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0brzkzx/they-shall-not-grow-old.

Zoomin, G. (2016) Top 5 – World War 1 gamesYouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgw7WEHAock.

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