This War of Mine is a real-time strategic/ decision-making game. The game was inspired by Sarajevo during the war of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The objective of the player is to survive the war with limited resources and extreme climate. The game ends when the war is over or all player-controlled characters died. All the resources such as food, water, and other materials are shared by both player and none player-controlled characters. Therefore, the main twist in this game is the survival between the player and the NPCs. To what extent will hunger and fear trigger the moral trigger and drive one to become a brutal person? More importantly, will your conscience allow you to stand with all that you have done? To me, these are the important the question that this game pointed out to us
At the beginning of each play, there will be a group of characters (usually 3-4) for the player to start with. There will also be some half NPCs that will ask the player for shelter during the play. Last but not the least, the pure NPCs. Some of them are just ordinary people that are trying to survive just like the player, some of them are mobs and soldiers trying to guard their own property and not willing to share no matter what happens. The resources in this game commonly appear as water, foods, woods, spare parts and materials that player can use to make tools. When first playing this game, there will be a tutorial level/day to show the player what is available to the player to collect and what are the needs to satisfy (hunger, thirsty, emotion). After that, the decisions are all up to the player.
Each character will have their own moral ethics. For example, some characters are more likely to feel sad about stealing from the NPCs or the death of their fellows. If the player doesn’t care about the ethical needs of the characters, they will commit suicide sooner or later. Take food as an example, the player can choose to scavenge cans in the ruins or build up traps and plant their own vegetables instead of stealing from the NPCs. As a result, the NPCs will live, and the characters won’t feel bad for anything. For some player, of course, they want to be nice from the start till the end. However, the decision becomes extra hard when there are fewer and fewer food and other recourses available. The number of the canned food is fixed for each map. Once the player consumed all of that, they need to look for more ways to make more food. As it is mentioned above, setting up traps to capture animals and cook it is a good approach. However, the player needs to build up a workstation and upgrade it before able to make traps. This requires far more materials and woods that the player can gather within the first few days. Therefore, the only choice for the player in the starting stage is to either to steal or starve. Followed are some classic action-outcome relationships that will occur in this game.
A. The player chose not to steal and try to become self-sufficient at the very begging of the game. They will devote all resources to setting up the workstation and making traps.
B. The player tries to steal food from tough people that are likely to survive without the food taken by the player. The downside of this decision is the tough people are well armed. Confrontation with them will result in injury.
C. The player tries to steal food from mild people that are not so likely to survive with those foods. The mild NPCs will beg the player not to be brutal on them. They will not harm the player.
If the player chose A. Their character will starve for a few days. This will lead to hunger and disease, which raise the need for medical supplies. Without the good luck, the player is not likely to make it until getting self-sufficient on food and water. If the player chose B on the long term, the characters will not starve but will get hurt. This needs bandages and medicines, which are also highly precious resources during the war. If the wounds are not treated properly, it will lead to the death of the character, which will result in depression of other fellows in the shelter as well. When it comes to C, the hunger problem is solved as well. However, this will lead to the death of the NPCs. When the player revisits the small house that they took food from after a few days, they will find out the old couple that begged you not to take their food are dead already. The characters will feel sick of their own acts and begin to hate themselves. They will become very low-spirited and are not willing to struggle to survive anymore.
We can see that it is always going to be very hard to survive through the war in this game, not to mention when winter comes, the water froze, and the temperature drops low, all your hope is a small radio that’s broadcasting the news of the day, wishing the war ends tomorrow. Not all of us get to experience such a hard life. This game makes people realize how fragile human is. The contrast between the intense game pace and the real-life shows the preciousness of our ordinary daily life. For me, the most important thing is that this game force player to think under what condition will we be willing to give up our moral ethics. This doesn’t only limit to the wartime, but other like students trying to get grade points by cheating, or bystanders when seeing other people in need.