Goodbye, You Will Be Missed

Goodbye from Team Senseless Violence. This Centreterm has been truly my favorite time at Centre so far. This Course helped me look at one of my favorite hobbies, video games, in a new light. I have a renewed appreciation for history as well. I will always remember this class as one of my favorites. Team Senseless Violence wishes everyone a safe and video game filled break.

All the best,

Your Mario Kart Champion, Leland

Team Senseless Violence

As we finish our last full week of Centreterm, I pause to reflect on how great it was working with this group of students. Prior to this project, I have had mixed feelings about group projects. Most good, but a few bad reservations. Working with this group was a great experience that I will cherish for my duration at Centre. On the first day of meeting with our group, we were struggling to find commonalities. One thing we had in common was that we like video games. We even didn’t share any favorite video games. This is what made the chemistry of Team Senseless Violence so good. Every member in Team Senseless Violence had a different specialty. Due to our diverse backgrounds and our different likes, we were able to be a multifaceted and dynamic group. On the second day of class, we added Mackenzie to Team Senseless Violence. She helped to further diversify the group, and support our team-like mentality.

At the beginning of the term, it felt like we discussed every group of people to do for our project. We discussed everything from the ancient Greeks to the Cold War Americans. It was only a few days into research when we decided to do a project on the ‘Wild West.’ Retrospectively this was the best possible option for the group. We were able to brainstorm for a day or two before we made any major decisions. Our first major decision for the video game was to make one of our main characters the notorious Billy the Kid. We thought that this would help us best convey a historical video game, because there were so many primary and secondary sources on Billy the Kid. After we decided on Billy the Kid, we believed that it would be interesting to entertain the possibility of more than one main character. This led us to discussions about how it could help us to portray a more comprehensive landscape of the ‘Wild West.’

After we were married to the idea of having multiple characters, we decided to include two more characters in addition to Billy the Kid. To create a deeper plot, we decided to add a lawman. This lawman is a manifestation of secondary sources on Pat Garrett. We wanted to take a few artistic liberties with the creation of Pat Garrett, so we decided to rename him Jameson. Throughout our video game, we portray actual stories about both Garett and Billy the Kid. These stories are from primary sources like wanted posters, but mostly from secondary sources. Our final character is the glue for our story. We decided to make the last character a saloon ‘dance worker.’ This character is completely fabricated.She was a creation of our group. We tried to use different stories about dance workers in the ‘Wild West’ to influence her. Once we decided to use these three characters, the rest was easy.

The most difficult part of the project, so far, has been deciding our characters and our setting. Once we decided those parts of the video game, the dialogue was easy to write. Mackenzie and I focused on the writing aspect of the project. We would bounce ideas off one another and writing for these characters became effortless, it never felt like homework to me. We could sit down and type dialogue for hours and it would feel like minutes. Tori is currently implementing our dialogue into the video game, with some help from Evan when needed. Evan and Clay focused on primary and secondary sources for the game.

Team Senseless Violence was able to come together with the shared goal of creating a fun, historically accurate video game. It was a pleasure working with these great men and women, and I will truly miss the camaraderie our group shared.

All the best,

Z. Leland Gray

Historical Accuracy of Call of Duty World War II

For the past week and a half, I have been thinking about the historical validity of various video games. Mainly Call of Duty World at War. I have played this game for a few hours and have actively thought about many historical aspects of the game. I have also looked at the portrayal of the Nazis. Juxtaposing online multiplayer and campaign, it is instantly apparent that campaign is more historically realistic than online multiplayer. Although the campaign is more accurate than multiplayer, it is still historically inaccurate. Both game modes over glorify war by making fighting into a competition. For the most part, a player’s score is based on how many kills a player gets. I have noticed that the two game modes diverge from reality on many occasions, most notably with customization. In online, the main way to show ones skill is through gun camouflage. This is not historically accurate. One of the most prestigious camouflages in the game is solid gold. Preliminary research into whether or not soldiers used vibrant camouflages on their guns show it did not happen. The historical accuracy of online multiplayer is so limited, a review pointing out all of the flaws would be too long for a blog post. Therefore, I will focus mostly on the campaign. The campaign is thoroughly enjoyable and very marketable as well. War is over-glorified in campaign mode, which likely one of the reasons the game is enjoyable. The game wouldn’t have been as fun if it was less action packed, which makes the over-glorification of the game understandable for marketing purposes. Another inaccuracy of the game is the type of weapons used. On campaign, many German soldiers used Russian weapons, which is historically inaccurate. One common occurrence is on the Western Front, many German soldiers used the PPSh-41. The PPSh-41 is a Russian weapon and was never used by the German forces. There also weren’t any swastikas on German soldiers’ fatigues. The use of swastikas was blocked in the United States, Canada, and in Germany. This is interesting because many other countries heavily affected by Nazi influence have the swastika in the game. The swastika is still very taboo throughout the world, but is still especially stigmatized by the Germans and the North Americans.

I asked one of my friends about his thoughts regarding the historical accuracy of the game. He said, “I have never really thought about it, I just like the combat and first person shooter aspects of the game.” He went on to agree that the game is over-dramatized and over-glorified.

I believe that it is interesting to think about the historical significance of games, rather than mindlessly running around shooting people.

Group update: Team Senseless violence is making rapid progress. We have begun to write dialogue and are edging closer to the use of twine. Hard work and camaraderie have been good catalysts for Team Senseless Violence.

All the best,

Leland Gray

Civilization IV and Project Update

Working hard or hardly working? While playing Sid Meiers Civilization, I was working hard but it was hardly working. It was my first time playing the game, and my opponents were experienced veterans. It took over two hours to figure out anything about the game, but was still enjoyable. I finished in last place by a significant margin, but was able to understand historical accuracy of the game. Civilization IV is in accordance with the popular historical theory that things get better with time. This was evinced throughout the game. In order to develop more modern technology, you must first develop more archaic technology, e.g. the wheel. This further solidifies the point that things do get better in time.

Team Senseless Violence has made important progress with the development our video game. We have settled on the idea of exploring senseless in the ‘Wild West,’ circa late 1800’s. We have begun to brain storm about characters. We believe that in order to create a more accurate portrayal of senseless violence in the ‘Wild West,’ it would be prudent to use an array of characters. With nothing set in stone about the type of characters we will use, we thought about having an outlaw, a law enforcer and a bartender or prostitute. The books we have begun reading have given us ample historical knowledge about our possible characters. It has been a great start for Team Senseless Violence!

All the best,

Leland