Reality Inspired Games: Expanding the Lens of Games’ Claims to Authenticity

McMillan Robyn Jayemanne Darshana Donald Iain
2020 DiGRA ’20 – Proceedings of the 2020 DiGRA International Conference: Play Everywhere

This paper considers the potentials of contemporary games staking claims to realism through documentary and journalistic techniques as part of a wide-ranging cultural and technological phenomenon– ‘Reality Inspired Games’ or RIGs (Maurin, 2018). We argue that RIGs employ design techniques and strategies of legitimation that are valuable to the reactive development cycles in the indie sector, whilst also being beneficial for academic research and development. Through examining traditional documentary and the concept of Bruzzi’s performative documentary (2006) we highlight how this concept may allow developers to negotiate performativity and authenticity in their videogames. We discuss examples of such games in the realm of indie productions, such as That Dragon, Cancer (2016), This War of Mine (2014), and My Child Lebensborn (2018) and Bury Me, My Love (2017). All of which represent new ground for game design, documentary and journalistic techniques that have influenced our work on the MacMillan project.