Serious Games

Harun Farocki, Film Director, Screenwriter, and Media Artist

The piece by the late Harun Farocki originally accompanied four video installations of his series titled Serious Games. Farocki filmed a drill at the Marine Corps Base 29 Palms in California that used computer-generated game technology to simulate 'real-life' war situations in the conflicts in the Middle-East to both prepare recruits before being deployed to Afghanistan and to treat returning soldiers from Iraq.  To use Farocki's description of the simulations: "Never has war been so transparent, so tangible, so efficient or so virtual." He describes how the technology represents a going back to the beginning. Not only is it employed on both ends of the war experience, upon departure and after termination of a tour; it is a technology that initially was developed by the military, then further developed by game designers, and now sold back to the same military apparatus where it originated. In Series Games IV Harocki concludes with a startling observation: "This chapter considers the fact that the pictures with which preparations were made for war are so very similar to the pictures with which war was evaluated afterward. But there is a difference: The program for commemorating traumatic experiences is somewhat cheaper. Nothing and no-one casts a shadow here."

Keywords: Harun Farocki, Serious Games, war, game technology, memory, trauma

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