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The Military Entertainment Games

Iraq Game Sparks Outrage, Soldiers Have Mixed Reactions 196

We recently discussed news that Konami will be releasing a video game based on a 2004 battle in Fallujah. Many people have now had a chance to react to the game, and there has been a great deal of criticism voiced over the game's choice of setting. A group of families of soldiers who lost their lives in the war questioned "how anyone can trivialize a war that continues to kill and maim members of the military and Iraqi civilians to this day." Others criticized the game's glorification of the "massacre." Conversely, some soldiers and veterans have responded with optimism, hoping the game can raise awareness of the realities of war. Dan Rosenthal, Iraq veteran and long-time gamer, worries whether Konami will be able to do justice to the experience. Eurogamer posted a related story about the controversy over increasingly realistic war games.
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Iraq Game Sparks Outrage, Soldiers Have Mixed Reactions

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  • by Smoke2Joints ( 915787 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @07:13AM (#27547573) Homepage all those other FPS war games where simulated humans get shot and killed. Clearly. Seriously tho, this is a case of someone feeling like the game is somehow directly targetting them and having a moan about it. Should we be mindful of veterens families? Sure. But just because a game is set in a warzone that someone you know happened to be near or involved in, doesnt mean said game is intended to slap their faces.
  • by OeLeWaPpErKe ( 412765 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @07:25AM (#27547615) Homepage

    If a war game is realistic, they will push people to avoid war if possible. However pain, disability, and choices that are bad either way (someone's firing from within a crowd, do we return fire ?) and their consequences (getting sued for saving 99% of the protestors (this means a few innocents dead by your bullets, for the idiots) for the terrorists' guns), they might actually get a realistic view of a bad situation.

    But what are the chances of that ?

    A bigger problem is unrealistic war games. If people start believing, even a tiny little bit, that you do actually respawn, that will be a sad day for world peace. Of course the same goes for people believing "god" rewards killing women or "unbelievers" after death. And the same goes for systems that encourage doing nothing at all very strongly, not showing the consequences of refusing to go to war when confronted with certain situations.

  • by 4D6963 ( 933028 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @07:39AM (#27547669)

    It's called "too soon". Although it probably also has to do with getting to historically accurate.

    Although the family in question does have a point, "When our loved one's 'health meter' dropped to '0', they didn't get to 'retry' the mission."

    Instead of getting to retry you should switch bodies with another member of your unit, that would detrivialise things a bit and give a better sense of what death does. Actually I can't believe no war game ever used that idea before..

  • this is premature (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Bobtree ( 105901 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @07:40AM (#27547673)

    Just because it's a video game doesn't mean anyone should assume it can't be a serious, respectful work of art.

    The only thing that's been announced is the game's setting.

  • by GF678 ( 1453005 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:03AM (#27547759)

    Put simply (very simply) - WW2 games are tolerated without outrage because it's an OLD war, a long-gone war that doesn't have any resonance with most people these days. It doesn't get portrayed in the media every day because, unlike the Iraq war, it's over and done with. There's very little for people to associate with in WW2 because we're not continually reminded of it in our daily lives, or when we read/watch the news.

    Games set in unresolved warzones are a tricky subject simply because the fight hasn't finished. They're still way too raw among people's minds, whereas WW2 is condemned to the history books and a decreasing pool of veterans. Once the war in Iraq is finished, and enough time has passed for reflection and consideration about how it went, a game released about the war probably wouldn't result in as much outrage. "Time heals all wounds" might not hold up so well with people, but it works well enough for video games.

  • by haggus71 ( 1051238 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:16AM (#27547815)

    I always noticed how they seem to know what the soldier would feel if he were alive. Families of soldiers still with us, who have lived through this experience, don't say anything, because the soldiers would tell them to shut the hell up.

    I just remember how people used to treat Vietnam Vets before First Blood came out. My uncle credited that with a change in viewpoint that allowed him to feel human again. Considering it is the largest money maker in entertainment, maybe this game will allow people to get an idea what happens in combat, and what decisions you have to go through, split-second, every day.

    For those "offended" by this, the game play is based on first-hand accounts by VETERANS. I think they have more of a right than any civilian to speak for themselves. If you are offended, fine. Everyone is allowed to have an opinion. It's in the constitution I swore an oath to protect and defend. Don't go dragging out the names of the dead, however, to support your own sensibilities.

    I just hope they don't allow you to "save game". You don't get that option in war.

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:28AM (#27547849) Homepage

    Fuck the veterans families!

    I am a veteran. I am very anti-war. If realism and expression of battle simulations upset people, maybe they should re-think their position on ACTUAL war. This isn't about "support your troops" it is about whether or not it is a good idea to put on a uniform and kill strangers in a foreign land.

    I don't think it is and the more people that finally get that into their heads, the better.

    All these kids are seeing recruiting ads and such about "being strong" and all this crap? They never know what they are getting into. If it takes a game to get the message through to people that wars kill and permanently damage people, their lives and their families lives, then let that game out for people to get that message. If my sons ever join the military service, I can't say how I would feel about it, but I can promise you I won't be proud or happy.

    People with money hire people with leadership skills who hire people who can carry and use weapons. The people with money tell their leaders what they want done, the leaders tell their fighters to go threaten, kill and destroy and they do it. It is really as simple as all that. And when people see it all for what it is, they will be a lot less "patriotic."

    People fighting and dying for independence? Great. All for it. People invading other countries and killing strangers "because they told me to?" I'll have none of it.

  • by PrescriptionWarning ( 932687 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:40AM (#27547911)
    and as I recall Black Hawk Down was an entertaining movie first, and then a video game. How exactly is this different? I think the excuse "because we're still in Iraq" is exactly why this game needs to push on to release date.
  • by mdarksbane ( 587589 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:58AM (#27547979)

    War games are no different from any previous work of art depicting war.

    Stories that gloss over the ugly parts and glorify heroes will inspire people to try to become them.

    Stories that talk of the horrors of war will make young men feel that they need this horror to have real feeling.

    Before every major war there were poems about the glory of battle. After every one there were songs of how terrible it was. Neither of them has ever stopped a war. Only the memories of those who lived it have done that, and only as long as they were young enough to fear going back again.

  • by AngelofDeath-02 ( 550129 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @09:08AM (#27548021)

    Well, there are always people like a friend of mine:
    Who volunteered for deployment AGAIN, and is now disappointed that he isn't shooting people.
    Who was part of the initial invasion force.

    Who was probably changed by his experiences and now feels civilian life is boring and dull.

    Oh well, I wonder if he'll still not regret it if he loses a limb or something ..

  • by osir ( 1402743 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @09:25AM (#27548089)

    People who 'outrage' at the realism and graphic nature of art, in a hope that such a reaction does anything but reenforce the purpose of its exhibition, obviously have no idea what the point of art is. So... maybe someone should tell them. The point of art, is to evoke emotion. The more you 'outrage' at art, the more effective said art is. You cannot really argue with art by outraging at its exposition. All you do is affirm its effectiveness and the reason we have a need for such art to exist.

    If gore and realism are repulsive... then how is depicting it 'glorification' of some situation in which it takes place? People play the games because it gets them close to something they normally would never get the chance to experience. I am more offended by the war movies of the 50's and 60's that took most of the gore and realism out of war. If you want to talk about glorification, THAT is a more fitting example.

    If you want people to understand the ramifications of violent behavior, then censorship is very counter-productive. You protect noone by throwing a rug over the bloodstain. You simply doom people to repeat the same mistakes by taking from them the wisdom of experience, however detached such experience may be.

    I think what offends the majority more than anything, is the fact that other people revel in violence. Unfortunately for them, humans have, and always will, find entertainment value in the suffering of others, most of all those that 'outrage' at things they do not have the depth to comprehend. Concepts like justice, which very few people have ever had much of any issue with at all, hinge on the administration of human suffering. Be thankful that we live in an era when there are more avenues available to satisfy our inate bloodlust than ACTUAL acts of cruelty.

  • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @09:43AM (#27548189) Homepage Journal

    For those "offended" by this, the game play is based on first-hand accounts by VETERANS.

    And no one ever paints themselves in a better light than what really transpired?

    I'm not offended by a videogame, but those guys obviously have a biased view of the events, so I'm a tad offended by your inappropriate use of quotation marks and by your flawed belief that a first-hand account is equivalent to an objective view of events.

  • by Zumbs ( 1241138 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @10:02AM (#27548287) Homepage
    Tell me then, which WWII games lets you play a German soldier assaulting the Jewish ghetto in Warsaw?
  • by Zumbs ( 1241138 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @10:06AM (#27548325) Homepage
    How about the civilians of Falluja? After all, it was their homes that were blown up, their families that were murdered.
  • by anonymousmeatbag ( 1412737 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @10:10AM (#27548349)
    Well, "all methods acceptable" is the true definition of war.
  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul ( 629286 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @10:20AM (#27548409) Journal
    Yeah, but the same ones that will play this game were the same ones that played the Vietnam War && WWII games. If those don't convince them that war is a bad idea, this one won't either. Worse, it will desensitize them to the real loss that occurred.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 12, 2009 @11:01AM (#27548629)

    The fact that anyone could possibly consider the Iraq war as fighting for somebody's future - in a positive sense - is staggering. Unless of course you mean Haliburton, which is a person too right?

    The fact that your name is "gandhi" adds a whole 'nother level of interest to the mix too!

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 12, 2009 @01:21PM (#27549463)

    Vietnam was a bad idea. WWII? Seriously? If WWII games convince people that war is an inherently bad idea, then maybe they should start including levels where the player liberates death camps.

  • by cagrin ( 146191 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @02:13PM (#27549673) Homepage Journal

    Ignorance and apathy are the two most dangerous diseases of our time, and very difficult to cure. Take the Red Pill.

  • by Weedhopper ( 168515 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @03:13PM (#27550011)

    Horse puckey.

    Little boys have been shooting each other with imaginary guns since guns have been around.

    Before then, they used to play with sticks and pretended they were sword.

    But, no, let's not be killing each other in games. Let's [b]strategize[/b] instead. Go play some chess where the killing is abstracted and the point is to assassinate the king instead.

    Let's not pretend that playing games that allow us to kill and defeat the enemy hasn't been with us since time immemorial and isn't a part of the human condition.

    And that last quote about the "enemy." WTF? You don't think those guys were humans with families, either?

  • by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @05:39PM (#27550829) Homepage

    I was an Infantryman from 96 to almost 2003 in the Regular Army. I've been a National Guard Artillerymen ever since. I was in Ramadi for OIF5, where I spent time on FOB defense and patrolling. I've been shot at with RPGs, SAF, and indirect fire more times than I can remember. I don't talk about shooting people unless it's with my fellow troops, but I've "killed" probably thousands of cans of soda, gatorades, and partially-moldy blueberry muffins there. Did I beat Iraqis? Damn right, I beat an Iraqi soldier at rock-paper-scissors once! It went two out of three, I let him have my can of Coke anyway.

    I was in during Clinton and Bush, I did my duty. I will continue to do it under Obama. Why? I'm good at it. The fact remains, appeasement doesn't always work. Sometimes you have to take the trash out.

    BTW, if we are the chicken hawks, what do you call France and Russia for refusing to get involved? They were selling weapons and buying oil under the table, undermining the UN oil-for-food program the entire time. Is that the honorable alternative?

  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @09:08PM (#27552089) Homepage

    Arm-chair quarterback much do you?

    Personally, I know I have what it takes to take the life of another actual human being. I don't want to. Personally, I know what it means to be in the cross-hairs of another. I really don't like that. Neither of these positions are symbolic of a "greater thing." If money-guy-A wants what money-guy-B has, I say let THEM fight it out. Don't use my country or my flag to get it.

    I think people don't mind the idea of killing other people so long as they never actually see it or participate in the act. If most people were faced with actually pulling that trigger, pushing that button or pushing that blade through, they might find it difficult to keep their lunch down for a while. There is nothing immature about appreciating the truly grave nature of killing. If you think it could be trivialized or compressed into some high ideal symbol, then perhaps you need to join the armed services yourself. I did my time. I won't go back. Things look different from that side of things.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 12, 2009 @10:02PM (#27552415)

    IOW, any website you don't like doesn't count?

    I don't think the phrase [citation needed] means what you think it means.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 13, 2009 @12:17AM (#27553113)

    BTW, if we are the chicken hawks, what do you call France and Russia for refusing to get involved?


  • It's a Game, Fool! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Toad-san ( 64810 ) on Monday April 13, 2009 @10:13AM (#27556069)

    I'm a Vietnam vet, retired with 23 years of active Army service (mostly SF). I love games, and I've played a fair number of military related games (some Vietnam era, and many others).

    Bottom line: games are for gamers. They aren't to teach history (although it would be nice, and many gamers prefer an accurate game). They aren't to teach ethics or sociology or psychology or international law. They aren't to benefit the victims or the survivors or the participants or the viewers. They're games.

    Don't like the game? Don't play it.


  • by Uberbah ( 647458 ) on Monday April 13, 2009 @12:47PM (#27558397)

    what do you call France and Russia for refusing to get involved?


    They were selling weapons and buying oil under the table

    Remind us who is the world's #1 supplier of arms again? Same country that backs military coups and brutal dictatorships as long as they support our "national interests"?

    undermining the UN oil-for-food program the entire time.

    Wow. Continuing to rag on the oil-for-food program after Haliburton, after KBR, after literally losing billions of dollars in Iraq - shows a serious disconnect with reality. Sort of like all the Republicans who said Clinton's lack of military service was a serious problem when he was running against H.W. Bush, only to have that standard fly out the window when W. Bush was running against McCain, Gore, and Kerry. Or Republicans ragging on Obama's supposed lack of experience, nevermind who was in office at the time.

Things equal to nothing else are equal to each other.