Procedural Rhetoric and the Appeal of Video Games

            The Republia Times deconstructs news media by providing us with a brief demonstration of how it is created, and how content is selected throughout the production process. Working as an editor for the fictitious Republia Times, a part of the Ministry of Media, everything from article size to your choice in content has the power to influence people’s loyalty to Republia’s government. Omitting information that casts the government in a negative light not only proves to be detrimental to the government, but also comes at a personal cost by placing the player in extreme circumstances. Part of the decisions made will be influenced by your wife and child are being held in a “safe location”; with their safety being determined by your job performance.

The game makes players more conscious of the media that is being consumed by making one reflect on what is being published, why it is being published, where it is coming from, who controls it, and the circumstances it is created under. Pathos makes one want to abide by the government’s instructions to avoid harm to the player’s fictional family, yet the game assumes that a player may go in the opposite direction and attempt to publish correct information at a great personal cost.

September 12th is similar as it also functions rhetorically by using pathos as an appeal. The player attempts to eliminate terrorists [easily identifiable by using a cliché image] by dropping bombs in a specific area. The terrorists are shrouded in the crowded streets of the area, surrounded by men, women, children, and even a few animals. However as the player learns, it is difficult to eliminate their target without casualties – it is a nearly impossible feat. Unlike other games, when an NPC gets hurt, their bodies litter the streets and the destruction the player creates is highly visible and emphasized by the horrifying screams of the surviving civilians.

As the title implies, September 12th follows September the 11th, a clear reference to the 2001 terror attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, and the response that followed. It allows one to offer a different perspective and removes the detachment from the Bush administration’s War on Terror, allowing the player to see the very real consequences of a war that they otherwise would not have direct involvement with. It forces the viewer to think about the rhetorical question of “Is an attack justified after what happened?”, and assumes the answer will be “No.” by making an emotional appeal to result in the player making a judgement.

Both of these games use procedurality in order to establish players as an audience, and capture their attention by creating emotional appeals by clearly outlining issues in a more demonstrative fashion that allows players to consider the results of their actions in the fictitious realm in order to illustrate how similar actions translate into real world consequences.


By Alexandrina Wilkinson-Mitropoulos

Bibliography

Bogost, Ian. “Procedural Rhetoric.” Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2007. 1-39.

Frasca, Gonzalo. September 12th. 2003.

Pope, Lucas. The Republia Times. 2012. <http://dukope.com/play.php?g=trt&gt;.

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