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The Military Games

How Will Contemporary War Games Affect Veterans? 288

Posted by Soulskill
from the serious-business dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Recently, video game developers have begun to make games about current conflicts the world over. Many veterans and current military personnel now take an active role in the video game community. Are game companies running the risk of walking into a public relations disaster when making games about current wars? More importantly, how will veterans react to playing games about a conflict in which they have participated? From the article: 'To portray conflict in a way that not only accurately depicts the acts of war, but does so in a manner that takes into account the sacrifices of soldiers within some sort of moral framing is a complicated matter. Now add to this the idea that such depictions are essentially created as entertainment and to make money. It is certainly mind numbing when looked at from a social perspective. ... Now try and apply this dynamic to a more recent conflict such as the Vietnam War or the current conflicts in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Considering that the latter wars are still in progress, the ability for a game developer to accurately gauge the morality of such a conflict is limited at best. To make a game that takes these factors into account while trying to create something that is both entertaining and capable of mass appeal among the gaming community is near impossible.'" We caught a glimpse of this last year with the reactions to Six Days In Fallujah.
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How Will Contemporary War Games Affect Veterans?

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  • Bad guys (Score:4, Interesting)

    by odies (1869886) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @01:12AM (#33134368)

    What about the other side which is always portrayed as "bad guys" and are who the player tries to kill and ultimately to win the game you need to beat them? I think the games affect those more.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So if I'm a guy who builds explosive devices to detonate in crowded markets or on school buses, I should get mad that kids get to play soldiers who kill me and men like me? Poor me!!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by sammyF70 (1154563)
        Of course, you could also play a guy who just drives a car around town and get shot at by overreacting (or just bored) soldiers. Or what about a run and jump game in which you try to avoid being collateral during more or less random "surgical strikes" falling on your neighbourhood ... Plenty of game opportunities without falling into one-sided clichees.
        • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @01:38AM (#33134512)

          And not trying to push your anti-war message. Seriously, it is a GAME, it is meant to be fun, not realistic, not educational. If you don't like that, don't buy them.

          If you want to try to make a game like you are talking about, where you have a message you want to ram down people's throats, well be my guest. However don't be surprised if, like most "message" games it completely and totally bombs (the Christians have tried this for years).

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by sammyF70 (1154563)

            I guess you missed my point. I was replying to the AC stating that a game seen from "the other side" would be about suicide bombers and ended with "oh poor me". Stupid stereotype, s someone else said (but I think the "avoid the missile J&R" might actually be fun :P

            Anyway I don't see how game would be less fun if you were playing afghani guerrillas shooting at "invading" UN troops. It might actually make the game stand out of the crowd in terms of gameplay.

            • by nido (102070)

              Anyway I don't see how game would be less fun if you were playing afghani guerrillas shooting at "invading" UN troops. It might actually make the game stand out of the crowd in terms of gameplay.

              You have to take social programming into account to better understand what's considered 'fun'. My ex-army/afghan vet friend couldn't enjoy a game as the guy who killed his squad ('allegedly' - he apparently has a few versions).

              And most people believe verbatim what the big news networks tell them to believe, so how could they play a game with a conflicting premise? (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, CNN - all share certain sacred beliefs about the forever war, and differ only in unimportant details)

              But I do understand you

          • by grumbel (592662) <grumbel@gmx.de> on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @03:01AM (#33134900) Homepage

            Seriously, it is a GAME, it is meant to be fun,

            If you want to make it fun then don't put it into a current day war, better yet, don't put it into any war that ever happened, as you will just end up twisting and mutilating history. If you need war then do some fancy fantasy or sci-fi or whatever that is far removed from reality. If you portrait current day war you have a responsibility to do it at least somewhat accurately.

            • No, you don't (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @05:52AM (#33135556)

              Sorry but I get tired of this "You have to make things realistic," crowd. I don't care if you think that's what's needed to prevent war (here's a hint: it's not) that's not how things work. Games are for fun, and they can use a wide variety of topics for that, including those which themselves aren't fun. They don't have any "responsibility" to make it real, no matter how much you claim.

              • by NEW22 (137070)

                The responsibility aspect is that real modern wars involve real actual people. You are getting your jollies over the portrayal of events that are the most tragic moments of real people's lives. I mean, sure, if that is how you like your games. Still, I think it is not very respectful or classy. http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v87/slackerwink/iraqfamily3.jpg [photobucket.com] This girl must be in her teens now. Imagine that by some unlikely circumstance she was in your neighborhood. She had the blood of her parents s

                • This girl must be in her teens now. Imagine that by some unlikely circumstance she was in your neighborhood. She had the blood of her parents splattered all over her from them being killed at a checkpoint by people who invaded her country, crouched, crying while surrounded alone in the dark by the soldiers who did it. Do you find it tiresome that she would be bothered by you blowing away folks in her country on your X-Box, because "Hey, I'm just having a little fun, and I need to unlock this last achievemen
                • by sammyF70 (1154563)
                  it might come as a shock to you, but people who fought and possibly survived WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, or any other conflicts (listing only recent ones here to allow for the possibility that some who experienced them might still be alive, although the list is not exhaustive) were real actual people too. Just to say that your point is moot.
            • by PinchDuck (199974)

              Or, if they do publish such a game, you could choose to not purchase it.

            • by Thing 1 (178996)

              If you portrait current day war you have a responsibility to do it at least somewhat accurately.

              This CD has been waking me up for a couple years now. This morning I had a powerful reaction when I heard the words, "With, without. And who'll deny, it's what the fighting's all about?" I love compression in communication. It's so cool how they reduced the enormity of war and conflict to two words: with, without.

              That's accurately portraying a war. And "Dark Side of the Moon" is one of the biggest-selling

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Hatta (162192)

              If you want to make it fun then don't put it into a current day war, better yet, don't put it into any war that ever happened, as you will just end up twisting and mutilating history.

              You can make a fun game *and* mutilate history at the same time. There's no reason you shouldn't.

              If you portrait current day war you have a responsibility to do it at least somewhat accurately.

              Why?

          • by PopeRatzo (965947) *

            Seriously, it is a GAME, it is meant to be fun, not realistic

            What part of the airport scene in Modern Warfare 2 was "meant to be fun"?

            Why don't you just say that today's games are creative works (sometimes) no less than movies, and not everything in a movie is meant to be fun.

            Art is what it is, and there is a surprising variety in what people enjoy.

            I'm just surprised people are talking about the "public relations nightmare" that's waiting for game manufacturers of realistic war games, but nobody explains ho

        • I thought that was GTA.

        • Re:Bad guys (Score:5, Insightful)

          by looney82 (1131897) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @03:27AM (#33135010)
          until you've walked the walk on the streets of a foreign country where people want to kill you, don't believe everything you hear in the media. i'm sitting in abu ghraib, iraq right now, and just because i haven't been hit by an IED in the last 6 months doesn't mean it's not going to happen. we (as soldiers) do not overreact in the situation. we're also never "bored" while outside the wire. i understand that posting a reply on slashdot will not change your opinion, but i feel a need to defend my profession and my brothers in arms. i've lost a lot of friends here, and whether or not you agree with the wars or the actions of my comrades doesn't matter. you should still respect them for volunteering. what's reported is (mostly) never true.
          • by sammyF70 (1154563)

            Actually, I understand and respect your position (even if I obviously don't agree with the reasons which placed you in Iraq). I was just applying the same sort of stereotype as the GP used to the other side of the coin.

            Still, in the context of a game set in a contemporary war, there is no reason NOT to set the player as the "bad guy". Apart from the game play aspect (you are fighting against a technologically much stronger force), it might also be interesting to use the Single Player storyline to explore th

            • Actually, I understand and respect your position (even if I obviously don't agree with the reasons which placed you in Iraq).

              But you accuse him and other soldiers of killing people because they are bored, or over-reacting which if it does happen, happens rarely this is the media's wet dream story, and then justify your comments because the GGGGP said the enemy would be a suicide bomber or a IED builder which happen multiple times every day. You are a typical liberal pretending to support our troops but silently hating them and all they stand for.

              • by sammyF70 (1154563)
                actually the gggggp said that the only way the (essentially morally corrupt) enemies of the United States fight is through suicide bombers, which also only happens in media wet dream story.
                Scrap the "also". Cases of civilians being shot by western troops because they were erroneously thought to be suicide bombers are documented in the Afghanistan War Diary leak.

                This will definitely boggle your mind, but you can support soldiers in that you don't want them to die and you want them to return safely home, whi

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by fandog (900111)
            looney82 I want to thank you for doing what you're doing.
          • by sealfoss (962185) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @08:53AM (#33136502)
            I joined the army 2 months after planes flew into buildings. A war in Iraq wasn't even being talked about on the news yet. Signing up for the service didn't have anything to do with anything other than volunteering to put myself in harms way for the rest of the country. That same story goes for a lot of people, especially now, with how very apparent that danger is on television every day. In any case, soldiers don't chose where and which battles to fight. Politicians do. And, speaking from experience, politics don't matter much when you're receiving incoming artillery or something like that. Soldiers carry out the missions YOU as the public chose for them (by casting votes on election day). So don't ever be so short sighted as to blame the horrible shitty messes soldiers are put into by other, third parties, on the soldiers themselves. Now, speaking of being shortsighted, I'm not so much that that I don't realize that there is no black and white when it comes to reality, only shades of gray. If you think there is, you're fooling yourself. The is no such fucking thing as "bad guys", ok? When people are put in positions of having to use deadly force, or having deadly force used against them, they tend to dehumanize the opposition. Hence, throughout every war the American armed forces have become involved in, service members have come up with nick names or slurs for the enemy ("krauts", "reds", "slopes", "gooks" and now "haajis" for our current wars). More than just terms of endearment created out of anger and violence, these terms serve to de-humanize the enemy. You know why? Because it is near impossible to organize a fighting force with the rationale that "We're going to go over here and shoot to death all these *people*". Because the fighting force that is going to kill all of those *people* happen to be *people* too, and the act of killing *people* is a fucking horrible thing to do. Now, imagine all the vets coming back from... wherever. The vets that had hand grenades thrown at them by "little abu-dabbi mother fuckers", or, as you and I may call them, "children", and in response these vets had to "open fire" on the "little abu-dabbi mother fuckers", to keep from being killed. You can't. You can't imagine anything like that. You may think you can, because you've seen some sort of bullshit on CNN or FOX news or whatever, but you're wrong. You don't know shit about it, and neither does some asshead at some game studio. These fucking bullshit games that are "based in reality" are only about shit than never fucking happened. The entire Idea of putting "real life" war scenarios into video games is like turning the bombing of an abortion clinic into a fucking cartoon show, and then feeding it to children.
          • Re:Bad guys (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Sir_Sri (199544) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @11:24AM (#33138312)

            volunteering to fight an illegal recolonization effort and you want respect? It's precisely that sort of thinking that has them wanting to kill you in the first place. Think long and hard about what you said. Seriously. There are countless british and french army types who volunteered to help 'civilize' various parts of the world (including Iraq), and countless colonial troops of various countries who wanted to variously bring religion to 'savages', wipe out the natives to make living space etc. Volunteering to help a colonial power expand it's ambitions is not worthy of respect. It is worthy of our disgust and disdain. If you idiots would stop volunteering they'd be forced to make truly difficult choices about what to do in Iraq. Is it worth conscription? Even after what happened in Vietnam? Right now they pile on the money and they get mercenaries, I'm sorry PMC's, and volunteers, none of whom are helping the situation. The reason, after you apparently 'liberated' them from Saddam Hussein they still want to kill you is that your still there, and still volunteering to go, (and when you are there tend to have a habit of killing innocent people, though that by definition is not intentional). It would be comically farcical if it wasn't so serious. Iraq, whether there are colonization forces there or not is a teetering mess, because it's the hub of the clash between saudi and iran for status as the dominant regional power, stabilization comes when those two stop funding a proxy war, at least temporarily.

            One could reasonably argue that Afghanistan at least started out as a different situation. It certainly isn't now. But back in the 1990's and 2000's the driving forces behind the Anti-US movement were related to Israel, Egypt, and the US forces in Saudi, not all of which were particularly legitimate grievances (hence the terrorism for all its flair remained mostly rare, and of somewhat less dramatic support). Since the US recolonization effort in Iraq, you've put a giant beacon to the world saying 'hey look at us, all that crazy evil stuff OBL claimed we were doing but weren't, well, now we are!'

            And no, a /. posting isn't likely to change your mind, or your income tax free + 225/mo imminent danger pay either. But your sob story of 'oh I'm in Abu Ghraib, I volunteered and they still want to kill me, you should respect me' isn't going to change my view. I'll presume you weren't involved in that previous business in abu ghraib with the torture etc. The people trying to kill you are all volunteers too, though they're more likely to be in it for an ideology (however crazy that may be) than the money. So ok I'll be at least sympathetic to you for that, at least you're probably in it for the money rather than for some misguided ideology about bringing some combination of Christianity or civilization to iraq. So no, you don't have my respect, you might have my sympathy, if you were so hard up for work and money to feed yourself this seemed like your last resort. At least if you learn arabic while you're there you can get a respectable job importing or exporting stuff with the middle east, just as a tip, don't tell them you were in Iraq, unless you want them to try and kill you during a meeting.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          What I found hilarious was the Crysis series: developers were running out of bad guys to portray so they picked the North Koreans because those are the only guys they can't sell games to. :P

          It's why you have this huge slew of World War II FPSes because the bad guys were very clear in these cases.

          It's interesting how other nations are now being portrayed less and less as bad guys because they're potential paying customers. More and more, you're seeing games which allow you to play other nationalities a
        • by couchslug (175151)

          The game should offer the ability to play either side. Problem solved.

      • Re:Bad guys (Score:5, Insightful)

        by odies (1869886) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @01:30AM (#33134456)

        Nice stereotyping there. Terrorists are a completely different aspect than national defense forces. Did Iraq do so? No, nor did Vietnam or any other country that USA has attacked. North Korea and Iran haven't done anything like that either, but still US demands them to stop developing their defenses. Doesn't it kind of make sense for a country to develop same kind of defense mechanisms than what other countries have? Would you feel good if North Korea had nuclear weapons and USA didn't and they said they'll attack USA if they don't stop developing them?

        Then there's games like Modern Warfare 2 where Russians are portrayed as bad guys. The entertainment industry alone is a big propaganda machine. It's quite boring how one-sided it always is.

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          "Then there's games like Modern Warfare 2 where Russians are portrayed as bad guys."

          One thing I liked about 'Operation Flashpoint' was that you could play as Americans, Russians or resistance fighters, so you could see all sides of the war.

          • by hitmark (640295)

            and truly experience the level of suck there is to be a grunt, as your character will die nearly randomly some double digit or more times during he first mission alone. This from bullets fired by enemies you had no chance of seeing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by phantomfive (622387)
          I think you are trying to make the point that every side sees themselves as the good guys, and that's generally true. However your examples seem to be implying something more, which I wanted to address:

          It is probably unfair for the US to demand that North Korea or Iran disarm themselves. But as an American, I don't care. North Korea has threatened to attack the US, and Iran has a day of hate directed towards the US. The call the US the great satan, and have threatened to try to destroy our allies if po
          • Re:Bad guys (Score:5, Informative)

            by 0123456 (636235) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @02:14AM (#33134674)

            "And I don't want those two countries, ruled by a dictatorship, to have weapons that will enable them to carry out their threats."

            Presumably you missed the part where Iran was a democracy before America and Britain staged a coup to oust its democratic government in the 50s?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by phantomfive (622387)
              Yeah, actually, I did. I wasn't even born yet. But what difference does it make? Even if we had committed unspeakable horrors in their country, I still wouldn't want them to have weapons if they are threatening to use them against me. This is fairly basic common sense.
              • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

                by Inconexo (1401585)

                Yeah, actually, I did. I wasn't even born yet.

                Oh my god. Aren't we supposed to know things that happened before we were born? So much time lost in History classes.

              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                And yet, they wouldn't even be threatening us with anything if we'd left them the fuck alone instead of giving support to an insane man in order to oust a ruler who wouldn't give us the deal we wanted on oil. Is the war in Iraq about oil? Yes, fifty years later. It's the fallout from our fuckery.

                I think the message was that maybe we should concentrate less on imperialism and more on cooperation so that people don't feel like they need nuclear weapons for protection from US, or should I say, USA?

          • by cgenman (325138)

            We called Iran part of the Axis of Evil, and put them on a to-be-destroyed list. I don't think we realize how often people in other parts of the world reference that really, really stupid speech.

            • by hedwards (940851)
              Perhaps the Neocons couldn't see that coming, but pretty much everybody else did. It was inevitable really. It's not like Iran and North Korea amongst others are unable to see our TV or read news sites about our President's speeches. It would be a really pointless intelligence agency that couldn't at least do that.

              It was the typical right wing arrogance when dealing with other nations that caused most of the trouble.
          • by sammyF70 (1154563)
            Actually, some people [huffingtonpost.com] in the USA are actively working to lessen the Day-Of-Hate gape. Thankfully, most media coverage about that is less than positive :)
          • by ultranova (717540)

            It is probably unfair for the US to demand that North Korea or Iran disarm themselves. But as an American, I don't care.

            And because you don't care about fairness towards others, those others have no choice but to arm themselves so they can defend themselves against you.

            North Korea has threatened to attack the US, and Iran has a day of hate directed towards the US.

            Being unfair towards others generally tends to lead to that.

            The call the US the great satan, and have threatened to try to destroy our allies if

        • by zill (1690130)

          Then there's games like Modern Warfare 2 where Russians are portrayed as bad guys.

          Did you even play the game? My impression was that the overzealous American Military Industrial Complex was the "bad guys" for starting WWIII.

        • Then there's games like Modern Warfare 2 where Russians are portrayed as bad guys. The entertainment industry alone is a big propaganda machine. It's quite boring how one-sided it always is.

          Not just that, but there are two types of russians; loyalists and ultranationalists. And both are bad in some respect but the ultras are "baddest". They even get their politics completely confused between the two MW games. Some are loyalists (this is supposed to be either actual Russian government forces, or so-called loyalists to the government, who fight along side them.) and ultranationalists, who are either supposed to be some kind of neo-nazi group, OR depending on where you read on the internet, they

      • by hedwards (940851)
        That's not an issue. What is however an issue of great concern is that there's a long history of broadening things so that everybody in the middle east is an Islamic terrorist, just like how everybody in Germany was a Nazi. It's been troubling how little we've learned in the last 60 years, that we insisted on repeating the mistakes we made with German and Italian Americans in handling the terrorism problem.

        Repeating that problem because a bunch of people can't admit that perhaps the wars were of question
  • Just look at the movie industry to see how it has worked out.

  • by atomicstrawberry (955148) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @01:18AM (#33134400)

    For decades we've had films which are "essentially created as entertainment and to make money" and which depict major conflicts, often with input from people who fought in them. They'll often attack more recent subject matter than games will, too.

    • I'm sorry but anyone who thinks that a first person shooter, no matter how "realistic" the blood and guts is anything like actually going out and fighting has needs a reality check. They've either never played the game, or they've been playing for too long or they are just plain idiots.

      Same goes for the movies. They might be used as recruiting tools (chiefly for cannon fodder as anyone dumb enough to think they're going to be Maverick from Top Gun clearly is too stupid and naive to be useful as much else).

      I

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Spazztastic (814296)

        I'm sorry but anyone who thinks that a first person shooter, no matter how "realistic" the blood and guts is anything like actually going out and fighting has needs a reality check. They've either never played the game, or they've been playing for too long or they are just plain idiots.

        Same goes for the movies. They might be used as recruiting tools (chiefly for cannon fodder as anyone dumb enough to think they're going to be Maverick from Top Gun clearly is too stupid and naive to be useful as much else).

        You've clearly never watched Band of Brothers or The Pacific. They were placed in a conflict very different than the ones we are involved in now, but they were two of the most moving series I've ever watched and it truly changed the way I look at combat.

        I'd say that The Wire had the same affect in terms of my perspective on crime.

    • by ledow (319597)

      I think MUCH worse than anything to do with current wars (propaganda will always be around), which we still have the ability to challenge, not participate in, or stop entirely, is rewriting history.

      Watch U-571. That teaches American kids that America captured the Enigma machine. Alan Turing would be turning in his grave watching that and it does an horrendous dis-service to the other countries involved in that war. Trouble is that it's hard to challenge something that seeps into the social subconscious a

  • What about movies? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Apotekaren (904220) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @01:22AM (#33134428)

    So why are movies entitled to depict ongoing wars for profit and entertainment without this risk for backlash?
    How many movies haven't already been made about the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, and often getting critical praise for their guts to comment on something so fresh and close to heart?

    • by Vahokif (1292866) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @02:02AM (#33134634)
      The difference is that movies can show that war is hell. Games, by definition, have to make war fun.
      • You could depict it as a grisly survival-horror/twitch fps hybrid? But how do you get something like the slippery-brain incident from "generation kill" in a video game?
        • by Vahokif (1292866)
          I think it would have to be visceral, poignant and depressing, but not fun per se; escaping from the firebombing of Dresden for instance.
      • by Ambiguous Puzuma (1134017) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @03:31AM (#33135032)

        Games, by definition, have to make war fun.

        Do they?
        By most accounts, Pathologic is a bleak, depressing game--yet some people find it quite compelling anyway, if they can look past its flaws (most notably an incomprehensible translation from Russian to English). From page 2 of the review "Butchering Pathologic" [rockpapershotgun.com]:

        A couple of years ago I had an argument with a friend, one of those differences of opinion that leaves you fuming and coming up with witty ripostes for days afterwards. I was saying that a good game doesn't have to be fun. She was saying that was ridiculous.

        My argument, though I botched my explanation at the time, is that games have incredible untapped potential in the field of negative emotions. Just as the lowest common denominator of any art form appeals to 'positive' emotions, whether it's humour, arousal or excitement, so it is that our young games industry is obsessed with the idea of 'fun'.

        I think this is one of the core reasons that the games industry hasn't had its Casablanca or Citizen Kane- we're still in the era of musicals and slapstick comedy. No games developer's going to try and make its audience feel sad, or lonely, or pathetic, at least not for long stretches. You might get games that dip their toes into that water from time to time, but by and large developers are keen to keep you smiling.

        But that debate is just a big, ugly thorn bush that I've run through too many times already with nothing to show for it. The point is that Pathologic fearlessly wields desperation, brutality, hopelessness, exhaustion, cruelty, even ignorance and pain, and, if you can stomach it, the result is phenomenal.

        Pathologic could not ever be described as fun. Tramping back and forth across town, trying to stem the torrent of deaths while aching to know what's going on /is not fun./ This is not a game. There isn't a word for it really, which is probably why the developers, Ice-pick Lodge, call Pathologic "an exercise in decision making" on their translated English website.

        And this is coming from a rave review that opens with:

        I'm going to explain, right now, why a Russian FPS/RPG called Pathologic is the single best and most important game that you've never played.

        Okay, so it contradicts itself on whether Pathologic is a "game" or "not a game". But that's because there's a largely unexplored gray area in between, where something can play like a game--and be as rewarding as a game--without being "fun".

        (If you want to read the full review of Pathologic, since there doesn't seem to be a good way to navigate between the pages: part 1 [rockpapershotgun.com], part 2 [rockpapershotgun.com], part 3 [rockpapershotgun.com])

      • by Psaakyrn (838406)
        Unless it is a serious game, which is a game which is not primarily for fun. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serious_games [wikipedia.org]
      • by Draek (916851)

        Really? I've yet to see large crowds walking out of a war movie before it ends, so if they're *capable* of showing that war is hell they certainly aren't doing it.

        • by Vahokif (1292866)
          The thing is that depressing isn't a bad thing for a movie to be. However, not fun is (generally) a bad thing for a game to be.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Dunbal (464142) *

          I've yet to see large crowds walking out of a war movie before it ends, so if they're *capable* of showing that war is hell they certainly aren't doing it.

                A live 120mm mortar round in going off in the middle of the movie theater should do it. Then the (surviving) people will have a fairly good idea about what war really is.

          • A live 120mm mortar round in going off in the middle of the movie theater should do it.

            Tardiggetydarnation! Someone's leaked our latest anti-piracy plan!

            Yours in the MPAA,
              Kilgore Trout

          • Oh, is that what these 3d movie technology is about?

      • by cgenman (325138)

        Games, by definition, have to make war fun.

        No. Games have to make war a compelling experience.

        Silent Hill is not fun. Silent Hill is a frightening, hellish experience.
        Heavy Rain is not fun. Heavy Rain is a gripping action drama.
        Diablo isn't fun. Diablo is a Pavlovian masterpiece of reward pacing.
        Most MMO's cease being fun in the middle, and become compelling reward treadmills with social aspects.
        Flower isn't fun. Flower is peaceful, relaxing, and gorgeous.
        EA Sports Active isn't fun. It has a compellin

  • I'm looking forward to 'Grand Theft Auto: Baghdad' myself.

  • by johnhp (1807490) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @01:27AM (#33134452)
    My father-in-law is a Vietnam vet. Anyway, he's surprisingly into video games for a guy his age, and he likes the Call of Duty style games. As far as I can tell he doesn't find it uncomfortable at all to play war games.

    I did find one aspect of war games that upset him. He watched me playing Call of Duty or some game like that, and I was playing the offline campaign. A bunch of allied AI troops were in my way and I shot them down while laughing. He said that I, or maybe just my actions, were "sick" and said something else about how you shouldn't fire on your own guys, then got up and left the room.
    • by arth1 (260657)

      I did find one aspect of war games that upset him. He watched me playing Call of Duty or some game like that, and I was playing the offline campaign. A bunch of allied AI troops were in my way and I shot them down while laughing. He said that I, or maybe just my actions, were "sick" and said something else about how you shouldn't fire on your own guys, then got up and left the room.

      But shooting civilian "gooks" was A-OK?

      Anyhow, the game designers don't really need to create new war games. Brush up the grap

    • Buy him CoD: Black Ops for christmas. That might hit a little closer to home.
    • by couchslug (175151)

      The reality now is that many G.I.s will be playing video games while deployed. Nothing new, deployments have a lot of boring time to kill (pun intended)
      and most of them aren't going to get their panties in a wad.

      Except for some old folks, the military is a young group who have grown up gaming. Just make good, interesting games.

  • by gravos (912628) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @01:32AM (#33134474) Homepage

    I guess the point that TFA is trying to make is that WW2, Vietnam games are tolerated because those are OLD, long-gone wars that don't have much resonance with most people these days. It doesn't get portrayed in the media every day, etc, etc... But games set in unresolved warzones are more tricky because fight hasn't finished and people still have skin in the game.

    That's true and all, but I don't think it means you can't make modern conflicts into games. It just means good judgement is much more important. You can't apply some formula, you have to actually think about how you portray each side and how people are going to react. You have to be careful, but there is still a lot of room for creativity.

  • There will be some people who whine and bitch that it should be allowed since whatever their chosen cause/event is cannot be the subject of anything fun. There will be others who will say how great it is that something is shining light on their experience and so on. Ultimately the commercial success or failure will largely be determined by how much fun the game is, the specifics of the setting won't matter so much.

    Part of the reason you don't see games based on more modern conflicts is that they aren't goin

  • I AM a Marine. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Israfels (730298)
    As a Marine I can tell you that almost all games fail at making real combat games realistic. Just look at the currently popular FPS; Modern Warefare 2. There's camping in absurd places, quick scoping, commando teleporting, spawn killing, bunny hopping, pistol sniping, modded controllers, laggers with laser bullets.

    Here's what you can quote me on; "No developer that can get close to a realistic warfare game without making it as unfun as war actually is."
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by NouberNou (1105915)
      Ever played ArmA2? I have heard from a number of vets that it is as close as you will get with out signing papers. Probably why the USMC and NATO use it (well VBS2) as a simulator. :P
  • We want art to be relevant, so has to talk about actual events or something. So, of course, we want games to talk about actual events. Movies can do it, so.. why not games?

    The danger lies in the opposite, stupid games about killing zombified nazis... thas has not danger, but also not reward.

  • by Leo Sasquatch (977162) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @03:32AM (#33135042)
    Simply because of the massive outpouring of shock, rage, and incessant bloody whining from people who can't tell the difference between fantasy and reality and so assume no-one else can either.

    A triple-A game costs $lots, and every developer wants to maximise returns. They want words like 'fun', and 'exciting' to be used by reviewers and players describing their games. Phrases like 'screams of the wounded', and 'dragging intestines' are right out. It doesn't matter how good physics engines get, or how much memory is in a PC; when bodies are shot, they will fall to the floor inert, and no amount of further shooting will do anything other than maybe nudge them about a bit. Enemies will have hit points, and once they're gone, they're dead, but until then, they're fully functional. Nobody's ever going to crawl away with a shattered kneecap, or frantically flail for their medkit trying to staunch a spurting artery.

    There will never be children in a warzone, either as refugees or inhabitants. There will never be veiled and burqa'd women with suicide vests approaching soldiers at checkpoints. There will never be entire rows of houses filled with the dead, some still frozen in place with food in their hands, killed by cyanide gas bombs. What will be presented in-game will be the illusion of war, as seen from the safety and comfort of an armchair; sanitised by the news corporations who don't show you footage of anything that might actually upset you. Oddly enough, this doesn't extend to natural disasters, where they're often ghoulishly happy to show piles of fly-blown corpses, or 'dozers shoving piles of limed and flopping meat into vast unmarked graves.

    It would be perfectly possible for a developer, hell, probably even some members of the modding community, to release a game that came a good deal closer to replicating the horrors of war than anything we've seen so far. Instead, I think they'll continue releasing things that are essentially toy soldiers, because nobody wants to be pilloried in the media for what amounts to trying to tell the truth.
    • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @04:42AM (#33135334)

      For example if you play Fallout 3, you'll discover you can't kill children. You can shoot them, but they just pass out and pop back up (critical NPCs do this too so you can't permanently screw over your game). Now why is that? It doesn't have to be that way by engine limitations, there are mods to change it. It also wasn't that was in the original Fallout. There not only could you kill children, you got a special evil perk for it which lead to more people wanting to kill you.

      Well the reason is that in some countries, it is illegal to have a game where you can kill kids. In the case of the original Fallout, they had to modify it to make all the children go away (they replaced them with invisible sprites). In the case of Fallout 3, they opted for the path of least resistance and just made them unkillable, since some of the kids play a role in the plot and can't be removed.

      Oh and games do sometimes go for some nasty scenes, even big ones. In Call of Duty 4 you play as a solider when a nuclear weapon detonates. You then are crawling around, trying to get out of your downed chopper, as you die.

      However the real reason has nothing to do with "telling the truth" or any of the rest of the things you scream about. It is because people want to play games to have fun. It is the same reason many non-controversial choices are made in games. You'll notice that having food and water in a game at all is somewhat rare, and being forced to eat to survive is near non existent. Why? It's boring to worry about. So they dispense with that. Less realistic, but more fun.

    • by HopefulIntern (1759406) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @05:50AM (#33135546)
      You make excellent points. Sadly I didnt spend my mod points last time round and so they werent renewed today :(

      I would like to reference the Soldier of Fortune series of games. If you remember, they caused much controversy because they tried to depict actual gun wounds and realistic death sequences. (The first one was a bit too early to get decent graphics so it was all pixels anyway, but the second one was pretty good). A shotgun slug to the stomach meant guts would spill out. 7.62mm to the face...well it took a good chunk of face right off. Explosives meant severed limbs.

      People were up in arms about it (no pun intended) because it was too realistic, and all kinds of restrictions were imposed on it. Personally, I thought surely this realism is a good thing. Why sugar-coat what combat is like? It didnt make the game any less fun, but more poignant. I took the time to realise that "thank god this is just a game", and that I dont have to do this in real life.
    • by Tim C (15259)

      Oddly enough, this doesn't extend to natural disasters

      In the case of casualties of war, they don't tend to show all the gory details because it reminds people that

      a) those people are dead because Our Boys killed them; and
      b) Our Boys are dying in the same ways

      Both of those can have the effect of reducing or destroying popular support for the war.

      In the case of natural disasters it's just an act of God, there's no one to blame and no support to be withdrawn.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by argStyopa (232550)

      " Instead, I think they'll continue releasing things that are essentially toy soldiers, because nobody wants to be pilloried in the media for what amounts to trying to tell the truth."

      While that moral high-horse may be a very comfortable, self-validating place to perch, my explanation would be more prosaic: nobody's going to release the game you describe because it's NOT ENTERTAINING and their jobs are to make something that will SELL.

      Not sure how this got missed, but "games" are meant to be fun. Kids play

  • Now add to this the idea that such depictions are essentially created as entertainment and to make money.

    You do realise that the wars themselves are there to make money?
    And if you don't think there's a certain segment of the public deriving entertainment from it, you have never been to the youtube channel where you can read the comments on videos showing Iraqi insurgents being killed by Apache gunfire.

    At least the video games are honest about it.

  • Pretty sure one of our last World War One (Wikipedia it, kids) vets would have had something to say on the issue. Probably "Get a grip you self-obsessed loons."
  • Well, seeing how the US Army seems to (partially) enjoy killing and their wonderful power over civil, er, sorry, terrorists, I'm sure the veterans will like more video games like that.

    (Yes, I read WikiLeaks)

  • As a nation we have many secrets. Our public has no way to evaluate the morality of a war in which we were involved. And we can never judge the consequences of a war either. For example Adolph Hitler was subjected to the type of percussive shelling that is now known to cause serious brain injuries in the first World War. He was also gassed and the effects of that gassing may also include brain damage. He was hospitalized by the British to treat his gassing injuries after WWI ended. It may very wel

  • by PyroMosh (287149) on Wednesday August 04, 2010 @06:19AM (#33135674) Homepage

    The folks at Penny Arcade toyed with this idea a little bit. Bear with me here, it's a long walk to get to my point.

    October 13 2003, Tycho posts [penny-arcade.com]:

    There was a new Call of Duty demo available this weekend, Dawnville it was called, but now it's gone and you can't get it anymore. I popped back to the desktop for a bit at the LAN party I was at, apparently in the brief window the game was available, and had no trouble getting my hands on it - it's great, like the other one is great, at any rate that's not why I brought it up. The reason Gabe went over to Spokane at all was to show his Grandfather - a man who has never discussed his experience in World War II - the original Call of Duty demo, and talk to him about his reaction to it. I have to admit, there is a part of me that has always wanted authorization from that generation to play these games, set as they are in their private definition of hell.

    Then, on October 15 2003, Tycho posts again [penny-arcade.com]:

    I had a chance to listen to the tape of Gabe's interview with his granddad, and it's already harrowing. They touch on the new Vietnam games very briefly, and without going into much detail he wasn't crazy about the idea. My stepdad was in Vietnam, as I would imagine many dads were - step or otherwise. If he'll talk to me, and I wouldn't blame him if he didn't, but if he did, I'll ask him what it's like to have someone make a toy out of your best friend dying in a jungle.

    Nothing for a while, then on November 24, 2003, Gabe posts [penny-arcade.com]:

    I get lots of mail every week from people asking about the interview I conducted with my Grandpa regarding his experiences in WW II and his thoughts on war related games. I promise it's still coming. My schedule recently heated up a bit but I'm still trying to crack out this article for you guys. I'll be taking a short vacation to Spokane for Thanksgiving and I'm hoping I'll have some time to sneak off and get some of my thoughts typed out.

    Then... nothing. for a very long time. I even emailed them a few months, perhaps a year later to ask what happened. Did I just miss the interview? I wasn't finding it in the site's search. I never got a reply.

    On December 3, 2007, Gabe partially answered my question with this post [penny-arcade.com]:

    I know that I promised you all an interview with my Grandpa a couple years back. I showed him a WWII game and then talked with him about hisexperiences and what he thought of kids playing these kinds of games. I've still got the entire thing on a cassette tape and I'm honestly ashamed that I haven't transcribed it yet. It's my goal for this week.

    To make a long story slightly shorter, here's the interview [penny-arcade.com].

    I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. It was not a well conducted interview. I don't know what I was expecting. They're not journalists or historians, or authors. They're a comic artist and a humorist (although they are great at what they do, and I often marvel at their writing). The first half of the interview sounds like what you'd expect a 10 year old to ask on an interview for a school assignment. The three or four game related questions at the end just barely scratched the surface.

    What really struck me was Tycho's quote "I'll ask him what it's like to have someone make a toy out of your best friend dying in a jungle". This is one of those situations where the question is a bit more powerful than any one literal answer you can expect to get.

    There seems to me to be a line. Simulation vs Toy. One treats the subject more seriously, and the other uses the subject as a setting for yet another more technically impressive clone of Doo

  • would be to make a game that is extremely realistic about Afghanistan. From the ridiculous rules of engagement like now having to carry rifles in "non-threatening ways" (kinda stupid when your guys are on patrol for actual, armed Taliban fighters!), to fighting in a highly fluid, tribal society where the AI bots that fight alongside you at the start of the mission will turn on you if the enemy gets too much of an advantage. Throw in heaping doses of scenes like Taliban AND our "allies" cutting off women's n

  • Just go to the streets and talk to the homeless, and you will see how many of them are veterans. Or just keep yourself in the comfort of your basement and see this guy's work: http://www.fotolog.com/mashuga/75578872 [fotolog.com]

    Seriously, your people just doesn't care about them. So why bother?

  • I was very excited when I heard about it, but then it just sucked. I'm now not expecting anything better from the upcoming contemporary Tron movie.

          dZ.

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