I will look at the implications of the games – ‘Detention’ and explain how historical games helping people memorize the past, teaching and understanding history also entertaining people. In this blog post, I’ll talk about how and why the game can received overwhelming attention from the media and players?
‘Detention’ is a 2D atmospheric horror game set in a fictitious world in the 1960s Taiwan under martial law, the story-driven atmospheric horror incorporated Taiwanese and Chinese culture and mythology such as Taoism, Buddhism and Chinese mythology, developer rarely design that kind of mythology element in the game. Since it is a 2D atmospheric horror side-scroller, players can navigate the main characters in a classic point and click action to explore the game. The game provided players with unique graphics and gaming experience by the puzzle-solving game experience and interact within the mysterious rooms. (Oh, 2018)
Set in 1960s Taiwan of the White Terror period, students Wei Chung ting (Wei) and Fang Ray Shin (Ray) find themselves trapped and vulnerable in Greenwood High School, which is located in a remote mountainous area. The place they once knew has changed in unsettling ways, haunted by evil monsters known as the “lingered”.
Detention illustrates the story of Fang Ray Shin (Ray), a Taiwanese senior high girl student growing up during the White Terror period following Taiwan’s detach from mainland China. From 1949 to 1987, Taiwan managed under a state of martial law marked by cruel crackdowns on anti-government activity and a prohibition of Communist texts and other writings judged unacceptable by the government. Thousands of people were arrested. Hundreds more simply “disappeared.” (Grieco, 2018)
Ray’s crime was snitching on her teachers and classmates. They had a secret club for reading forbidden books during the White Terror era. Banned books mostly included any type of literary works that would cause unrest. The reason for Ray reported them was due to her unrequited love for her teacher, Chang Ming-hui (Chang). Shortly after, they began a relationship. Chang broke off the relationship and Ray, in her anger, she whistleblowing to her Instructor Bai Guo Fong(Bai) about her teacher and classmates having a secret book club for the dissemination and reading of banned books. And ends up the whole club was arrested. For this, Wei and other students were sentenced to 15 years in a penitentiary, and Ms. Yin Tsui Han (Yin) and Mr. Chang were condemned to death. (Gamepedia, 2017)
Her guilt drives her to suicide and her soul going through a cycle of purgatory.
Since one of the important things was to make a game that everyone can enjoy and understand, especially for the non-native Chinese speakers. In order to accomplish this, the game developers decide to flatten the cultural element. The game of Detention by transferring the cultural elements to different symbols, and sort of hiding them in the game setting. The game developer had remodelled the symbols as the tools for the puzzles (Image3,7), pieces of note (Image 6) , background music, the setting (Image1,2,3,5), and etc. And these visual and audio symbols became the reinforcers to lead the narration and create the ambient in the game. (Liu, 2017)
How and why the game can received overwhelming attention from the media and players
Through the games art style, imagery and environments, the game’s narrative unfold like a vague puzzle and though the plot at the heart of it isn’t particularly mind-blowing and its twists fairly predictable, the way it told it was completely engaging.
The game puzzles start from easy to difficult and it requires a lot of brainwork. The game mentions the solution with a piece of the paper note that basically tells you what you need for the next step. You can explore the room in the game freely without properly searching which room is available. (Smith, 2018)
“Detention” was a bestselling title on Steam when it was first released in 2017 and got a positive reception. Besides providing attracting gameplay, Detention helped many international gamers learn more about the White Terror. In 2019, the game has got a film adaptation and the astonishing visual effects scenes in the movie were also recognized by the “Best Visual Effects” award. The Detention movie uses psychological horror to carry the White Terror’s traumatic impact, both the film and the game itself which fully embodies a notable milestone in Taiwan’s reckoning with its autocratic past. (Kao, 2019)
Kao, Z., 2019. Latest Trailer Released For Film Adaption Of Taiwanese Horror Game ‘Detention’ | Taiwan News. [online] Taiwan News. Available at: <https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3764420> [Accessed 12 November 2020].
Grieco, G., 2018. Even The Bleakest Horror Games End More Hopefully Than ‘Detention’ Does. [online] Vice.com. Available at: <https://www.vice.com/en/article/bjyvbd/detention-horror-taiwan-white-terror> [Accessed 12 November 2020].
Smith, S., 2018. Review: Detention – A Horror Game Deserving Your Attention | Gameluster. [online] GameLuster. Available at: <https://gameluster.com/review-detention-horror-game-deserving-attention/> [Accessed 12 November 2020].
Liu, T., 2017. Detention Postmortem: Localizing A Taiwanese Game For Western Audiences. [online] Gamasutra.com. Available at: <https://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/TiffLiu/20170802/302285/Detention_Postmortem_Localizing_a_Taiwanese_game_for_Western_audiences.php> [Accessed 12 November 2020].
Gamepedia, 2017. Story. [online] Detention Wiki. Available at: <https://detention.gamepedia.com/Story> [Accessed 12 November 2020].
Oh, A., 2018. Psychological Horror Game Detention Revisits 1960S Taiwan. [online] Polygon. Available at: <https://www.polygon.com/2018/3/15/17092630/detention-game-ps4-steam-impressions> [Accessed 12 November 2020].