January 17 2009, a group of artists and intellectuals gathered in
Istanbul as a part of "Forgetting is losing" campaign to remember Hrant
Dink. Besides the speeches and a documentary film, for the first time
in Turkey an editorial game was introduced to the audience: "Huys",
meaning "Hope" in Armenian.
"Huys" was designed by Kerem Demirbas and, as he declares on his blog
, uses the same game mechanics as Gonzalo Frasca's "Madrid
both games players have to click on hotspots to "illuminate" the game
screen and to win. The hotspots are objects in people's hands; in
"Madrid" candles, in "Huys" placards reading "We are all Armenian - We
are all Hrant Dink".
"Huys" recreates the image of Hrant Dink's funeral.
to the "Forgetting is losing" campaign Demirbas explains the aim of the
game as remembering Hrant Dink. The game directly bases on Hrant Dink's
funeral focuses not only on Dink, but also on the significance of the
political momentum of the funeral in recent Turkish history. Dink, his
funeral and the slogan are issues still debated and battled over in
Turkish politics. Especially nationalist blogs and YouTube entries
criticize and try to discredit them. This continuing importance of the
issue places the game on one side of a living debate. In that sense the
game mechanics of "Madrid" fits very well; even more than "Madrid"
itself; to the political agenda of the designer: Be active and remember
or we will lose. But still, one cannot stop recognizing inevitable
similarities with "Madrid" and wonders if a new game couldn't be
designed with similar goals.
Huys uses the same game mechanics as Gonzalo Frasca's Madrid.
a game design perspective "Huys" is a copy. But does this trivialize a
game, especially an "editorial game"? The question can be answered both
in positive and negative ways: If the content and the game mechanic fit
together, why not use it? On the other hand using pre-made game
mechanics over and over again can lead to fabrication and dissolution
of the "editorial" from games.
"Huys" uses the "Madrid" game mechanics with different graphics, there
are some differences and also other features added by the designer:
was a quiet game with no significant background music. "Huys" uses a
well known folk song in the background. The song itself is also
controversial. There are Turkish and Armenian versions and both sides
argue that the original is theirs. "Huys" uses the Armenian version.
side bar next to the game screen gives information on the murder and
the following trial process. While it can be meaningful to give the
background of the game, especially for players who are not familiar
with; a side bar with no connections to the actual game play is not an
efficient way to do that. It is very hard, almost impossible to play
the game and read the text at the same time.
game can be played in Turkish, in Armenian and in English. Yet the only
thing that changes is the language of the text on the side bar; the
slogans on the game screen or the song remains the same. The three
language option is in fact very meaning full considering Dink's
political ideals. He supported empathy and understanding between Turks
in Turkey, Armenians in Armenia and Turkey and also the Armenian
Diaspora abroad. In that sense the game reaches hands to all these
groups, but again the integration problem between game play and
information given makes it an ill-fated goal.
more important question is for whom the game is made for. It is for the
supporters of Dink for sure; the ones who stand for his ideas; Turkish,
Armenian or else as the three language choice suggests. But why then is
the side bar used? Don't the supporters know what happened? Is the game
also for the ones who want to learn more about Hrant Dink? If yes, the
game fails, once again because of the integration problem. A link to a
website on Dink could do the job better. The designer uses an existing
mechanics for a game with a particular target group, and it works. But
at the moment he adds more to the game than it can mediate, it fails.
is Turkey's first important political game and it is a part of a
continuing debate. It adds the medium of electronic games to the
Turkish political arena. YouTube had a similar position while it was
used by political groups, yet radical and illegal content let to its ban by the Turkish courts
for almost one year. One cannot stop wondering how opposing groups will
use games like "Huys" the future and how the reactions will be.