Rather than focusing on the heavily armed soldiers who populate most war games, This War of Mine made headlines last year by simulating the experiences of a very different group of people: civilian survivors.
Now its developer 11 Bit Studios is going a step further, with new downloadable content whose proceeds will benefit the international charity War Child, which provides support to children impacted by wars and violent conflicts. The DLC integrates street art by several international artists into the game, images that offer "reflections on the human condition and the state of humanity during a time of war."
Although This War of Mine is based partly on the Siege of Sarajevo, the harrowing scenarios and difficult moral choices it presents are intended to depict the experience of survivors of war across the globe rather than any specific country or conflict.
"When war breaks out, what matters is what kind of human you are, and how you survive," senior writer Pawel Miechowski told Gamasutra. "I presented this game to people from both Palestine and Israel, and for both sides, it was a game about them."
You play as multiple survivors in a ramshackle house, hiding from snipers and trying to scrounge up enough food and resources to survive. At night, you creep out into the larger, fictional city of Pogoren, where you can loot empty houses or steal from other survivors—by force, if you choose. It can be a startling and often upsetting experience, especially when you are thrust into the game with no tutorial and no option to restore your game if things go awry, or even start more than one game at the same time.
"In reality you cannot live two lives at once," art director Przemek Marszal explained. "In This War of Mine there is no tutorial, because when war breaks out, there is no tutorial of people telling you what do to survive and save your family. You're just on your own."
This War of Mine is currently available for Mac, PC and Linux, with an iOS version slated for later this year.