The school is a place of constant surveillance, and a public announcement informs passersby that Bai requests the reporting of students who may be “pro-Communist or show signs of treachery.” Detention links the broad function of surveillance as a policing tool to the simple act of individual observation by foregrounding the affective dimensions of watching and being watched. Ray’s aforementioned discovery of the watchlist in the principal’s filing cabinet makes her feel uncomfortable, but players are similarly engaging in this act of surveillance via our distant point-of-view. Because the perspective of the game is that of a 2D, side-scrolling viewpoint, a sense of voyeurism lingers throughout gameplay, foregrounded by the occasional occultation of our line of sight behind windows, walls, and trees, as though we’re peeping from outside. This sightline, along with a motif of watchful eyes, exacerbates a latent sense of paranoia and guilt.
Read the full column at Haywire Magazine.