History of Editorial Games, Part One

A good overview of a genre I’ve been following from the beginning. I sometimes wonder why references to political cartoons aren’t more common in discussions of games about current events. At any rate, the article begins by mentioning the importance of Flash, the 9/11 attacks, and Gonzalo Frasca’s thought-provoking response, September 12th.

Water Cooler Games, a website maintained by Frasca and Bogost, tracked the development of what they labelled “newsgames” (which we can now separate into the sub-genres of newsgames, “editorial games,” “political games,” and “documentary games” with the benefit of hindsight) from 2003 until today. The year 2004 saw the creation of Madrid–Frasca’s follow-up to September 12th that we’ve covered elsewhere–an editorial game that simply asks one to remember a tragic event, an early entry into the documentary genre called John Kerry’s Silver Star Mission by Kuma/War, and the controversial doc game JFK Reloaded, wherein one tries to mimic the exact shots fired on President Kennedy (supposedly) by Lee Harvey Oswald. Ed Halter notes the popularization of Osama bin Laden whack-a-mole games in the mid-2000s, but no other prominent editorial games appear to have popped up until early 2006.

Here begins a series of chronologically-ordered micro reviews, for which I will provide meta-commentary throughout and at the end of the article. For the most part, I will be embellishing on the notes made by Frasca and Bogost as they documented the editorial games made through the bulk of 2006. — Simon Fefrari, News Games

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