Ian Bogost’s blog, Water Cooler Games , has posted a link to a video criticizing the tragic tasering of a Polish immigrant by the Vancouver airport security last October. The video, Mega Man vs. Polish Immigrant, is perhaps best described as a cross between machinima and a political cartoon, and is pretty damning of the Canadian security team’s treatment of the situation.
Despite the video’s criticism of the event, however, the video has garnered intense criticism by both Canadians and Poles alike. While the video’s intent was to present the situation as a political cartoon regarding the ineptness of everyone involved in the situation, the games medium being used has made many people feel it is a tasteless ‘parody’ or ‘joke’ of the tragedy. Instead of seeing commentary, they simply see ‘games = low culture = tasteless joke’, particularly considering the glut of truly tasteless games and videos and games’ portrayal in the popular media. Ian Bogost criticizes the response to the video primarily as a media literacy problem, but also the author’s failure to take games media illiteracy issues into account.
Is this simply a case of media literacy – that if the same message had been presented in a political cartoon, say, it would have been properly interpreted? Or is it a result of the game’s presentation and design? While Bogost suggests it is a combination of both, he fails to provide any answer to how the video could have been presented otherwise to make the author’s statement more clear. Unfortunately, I can’t provide any quick solutions to this problem, either.