This War of Mine Now Features a Controversial Version with Children
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small, This War of Mine Now Features a Controversial Version with Children, This War of Mine: The Little Ones, photo: producer's press material, warofmine_1.jpg
This War of Mine, the celebrated survival game in which gamers control a group of civilians struggling to survive the hardships of war, just released an expanded version. Entitled The Little Ones, it adds another thought-provoking dimension to the game’s already controversial topic.
Typically, war video game are either first-person shooters or strategy, meaning it is either about running around with a gun or sending others to fight. In both cases the focus is generally on the warriors, not on the civilians. This War of Mine, the celebrated 2014 production from Poland’s 11 bit studios, goes against the norm. There is no Rambo-like super killer taking out opponents by the dozen, no glorified usurpation of the course of world history. Instead, the player controls a group of civilians struggling to live through a contemporary war in a besieged city. Managing food supplies and medicine, keeping a warm shelter and watching out for raiders: these are the basic challenges offered by This War of Mine. The scarcity of resources and the overall dire conditions force players to make tough decisions, e.g. which one of two sick people will get the last dose of drugs. Before making the game its creators listened to the stories of dozens of people who lived under siege in Sarajevo and Aleppo. This War of Mine is as realistic as it gets. Reading reviews, one encounters emotional accounts of gamers faced with the daily consequences of war for the first time.
The Polish-made game received great reviews and became highly popular with gamers. The Guardian called it beautiful. Time put it on its best video games of 2014 list. Much of the title’s value can be credited to its lead designer, Paweł Miechowski, brother of game developer veteran and president of 11 bit studios Grzegorz Miechowski. Paweł once said about This War of Mine to a Newsweek journalist, ‘(..) we didn’t want to whitewash anything. In the game we show the realities of war with their brutal simplicity (…)’. This concept worked out very well and the producers are now taking a step farther in the same direction. Just recently, in January, the game got an expansion entitled The Little Ones. This add-on makes the game even more moving and thought-provoking than it already was as it offers a whole new perspective by bringing children into the picture.
The Little Ones reveals the harsh realities of caring for a child during wartime. Fortunately, contrary to the conclusions some may jump to, a child isn’t just a burden in this game. Obviously, they need to be protected and cared for by providing attention and toys, a rare commodity in a devastated city under siege. But children can also help the characters. They can do do low-risk, but useful tasks at the shelter, like purifying water or cooking. Such assistance from kids leaves grown-ups with more time to do necessary things that are dangerous, e.g. search the city for supplies. The skill teaching and task-specific cooperation bring a bit of optimism to 11 bit studios’ January release, but nevertheless The Little Ones has all the grim realism of This War of Mine. It is not only adults who can get injured and killed in the new game. Because of this The Little Ones may be very disturbing. In terms of interface and graphics the expansion doesn’t bring any serious changes. It is, like the original, a point and click, side view game with charcoal-stylized aesthetics. This War of Mine: The Little Ones is available on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
polish computer games
this war of mine
the little ones
Author: Marek Kępa, February 2016