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Feature: 'Persuasive Games - Videogame Vignette'

In his latest 'Persuasive Games' column on sociopolitical games, designer/author Ian Bogost analyzes the 'vignette' that is Hush, a student game which movingly chronicles the massacres of the Rwandan Civil War.
Hush was created by University of Southern California Interactive Media Division MFA students Jamie Antonisse and Devon Johnson in their fall 2007 Intermediate Game Design and Development course, and aims to create a personal experience of a complex historical situation. The inspiration is the 1994 slaughters of the Rwandan Civil War. Like Darfur is Dying, it focuses on an African crisis, but rather than offering a zoomed-out view of the situation, Hush focuses on a singular experience -- a Rwandan Tutsi mother trying to calm and quiet a baby to avoid discovery by Hutu soldiers. In other words, as Bogost says, it's a video game vignette, which he defines as: "In literature, poetry, and film, a vignette is a brief, indefinite, evocative description or account of a person or situation. Vignettes are usually meant to give a sense of a character rather than to advance a narrative." Neither essay nor documentary, Bogost says, vignettes simply depict, without making a direct argument nor rationalizing. And he explains how this concept, which he says is under-used as a video game mechanic, is presented in Hush: "Hush offers a glimpse, as it were, of how vignette might be used successfully in games. As an exploration of the potential of the style, the game is a success. And as a vignette of a situation in mid-90s civil war-torn Rwanda, the game is compelling, if perhaps simplistic and overly mawkish." You can now read the full feature, which contains more on the role of the vignette in video gaming, possible reasons as to its lack of prevalence, and where Hush succeeds in its implementation -- and where it falls short (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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