Tried Burnout2 for the XBox the other day. While technically a racing game, it also contains a crash mode, the object of which is simply to cause maximum mayhem by crashing your car into traffic. There is a strange kind of beauty in the slow motion movement of busses crashing into cars, drivers failing to stop in time and huge pileups of wrecked vehicles:
Similarly, there’s a 9-11 simulator coming out [link now broken apparently]. Gonzalo Frasca is quite sceptical because he would have preferred it to be about economics in the Middle East, but I think Burnout 2 and this simulator are both about facing something terrible not by watching someone else go through it as in a movie, but experiencing it in the sort-of-first-hand mode that is called a game.
The flying arcs of crashing cars are fascinating stuff because we worry about road accidents but seldomly see them as they happen. Likewise, I am pretty sure that most people tried imagining how they would have escaped from the WTC. In that perspective games as well as storytelling can be about facing and surviving death …
P.S. Videos of Burnout2 crashes here.