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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 discord5 ( 798235 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @07:14AM (#27547577)

    Yeah, those WW2 games are offensive too. That's why there are so many of them that hardly anyone complains about. Let's all stop playing FPSs set in a warzone, and make it all happen in a magic land with evil ponies that shoot lasers from their mouth.

    If they think this is offensive, wait until someone makes a game where you get to eat babies.

  • Lot's assumptions (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 12, 2009 @07:28AM (#27547623)

    People are making a whole lot of assumptions about a game that hasn't even been released yet. Assuming for a moment that the game does not in fact glorify the war, but instead brings to the front the realities of it, why is this a bad thing? If anything, I'd say the American public needs to see what war really does, people need to know that there is a reason that "War is Hell", maybe if we saw what really happens we would be less likely to so carelessly throw people that volunteer their lives for their country into such a horrible situation. War should be the very last recourse in a diplomatic situation after all other alternatives are exhausted, war should be questioned hard and fought hard before it is declared. There should be no question at all whether it is a good or bad idea, such questions should be fully resolved before people are sent to kill and die. I know this position is probably ridiculously idealistic(ironically my CAPTCHA was "Delirium"), but I think that if this happened, the world would hopefully be a better place.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:10AM (#27547793)

    "If a war game is realistic, they will push people to avoid war if possible."

    For a lot of young people it wil ascociate feelings of fun and laughter with graphic imagery of death and decay
    (not a good way to raise a child)

    I am not against (war)games and played them a lot but ever since I got back from war myself I never played them much, it gives me mixed feelings

    I do believe in the future these 'games' will play a part in 'education' or 'historic' preservation.....but for now I think it is mostly propaganda

  • by meringuoid ( 568297 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @08:36AM (#27547885)
    On the other hand killing an soldier of US or GB army, even in a video game, seems to be... well, another story.

    Is that because gamers are a jingoistic bunch who wouldn't want to shoot their own side? Or is it just that the British and Americans mostly won their wars, and games tend to cast the player as part of the winning side?

    I'm actually surprised there aren't more games where you play a guerrilla or terrorist, especially with the current topical interest in the whole subject. There was a rather good strategy game I picked up long ago called 'Central Intelligence' in which your job is to organise a revolution on behalf of the CIA in some banana republic. Set up safe houses, establish contacts with sympathisers in the media and among the student radicals, organise a leaflet campaign, put up propaganda posters, raid the quarry and steal explosives, send a letter bomb to the chief of police... Wonderful idea, but crippled by a terribly clumsy interface.

    There's got to be a market for this. 'Freedom Fighter' - play as Lenin, Collins, Mao, de Gaulle, Guevara, Khomeini! Overthrow the corrupt puppet government of the oppressors! Establish liberty and justice for the common people! Intimidate and beat up collaborators! Execute informers! Blow up police stations!

  • by adamofgreyskull ( 640712 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @10:46AM (#27548553)
    Not the usual funny stuff, and I don't necessarily agree, but it is an opinion of a WWII veteran, and pertinent to this discussion...so...
    Interview with 'Grandpa' on 12/6/07 about WWII and Gaming [penny-arcade.com]:

    Q. What do you think about gamers playing video games based on World War II?
    A. I haven't really paid enough attention to the games themselves to be able to tell you truthfully, but I would think, if it's just people shooting one another, I don't think it's a proper thing for young people to do. I think it sets a bad example for them, because they get into the mood of doing that, and that begins their lifestyle. And that's not the lifestyle you want.

    Q. When groups of gamers are playing these games together it is common for some of them to play as the enemy. They might play as Germans defending the beach at Normandy for example. What's your opinion of that?
    A. Well, it ties back in to what I already said. I don't think it's an appropriate game. I think they can make games that will interest kids, that don't have to include war. We don't need to be killing each other in games. There's other ways of strategizing and using the kind of skills that make those games popular.

  • Re:Lot's assumptions (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Weedhopper ( 168515 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @03:39PM (#27550125)

    I am making an effort not to be judgmental about your friend.

    A long time ago, I was an infantry officer in the Army during peacetime. As a soldier in the combat arms who has never seen combat, you PRAY for war. You want to experience for yourself all of those things that you've heard about, read about, watched on screen. Everything.

    After you experience all or some of those things, the rational person should pray that it doesn't happen again.

    There's a lot of reasons men "volunteer" for redeployment. I have a relative in the Marines who manipulated circumstances to go to Afghanistan, just months after returning from Iraq. I chose not to call him out on it but he likes to allow people to believe that he saw more action than he really did, which I believe was not much at all. Like a lot of young men in his position, he feels he missed out. His buddies think he's the real deal but I know better. He hasn't had his fill and he won't until reality slaps him in the face.

    Is your friend REALLY like that or is it what you're ascribing to him because he can't really express how he feels or what he's done?

    Or is maybe that he lets you believe these things because he thinks that's how he should come across?

    Maybe he allows you to think these things because the guy's embarrassed to admit that he hasn't done all of these things you think he's done.

    There are very few people who have a pathological need for combat. These are the guys who need to be very closely supervised and if the chain of command has a clue, they'll be aware of it. But most of the time, as much as a someone could come across this way, they're usually volunteering for another reason, be it guilt, ignorance, or otherwise.

  • by Zumbs ( 1241138 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @05:19PM (#27550705) Homepage

    The "insurgents" controlling Fallujah were overwhelmingly local Iraqis, some of which were islamists. Fallujah had for a long time been a center for the resistance to the US occupation, and some of the first larger confrontations between the occupation and the Iraqis happened in Fallujah. You may remember that the citizens of Fallujah demonstrated to get the occupation forces to leave a school, but were fired upon [commondreams.org].

    This led to widespread anger in Iraq and particularly Fallujah. As the strength and resolve of the resistance grew, it were able to force the occupation out of Fallujah, and for a time Fallujah were controlled and rebuild by Iraqis. When the US decided to crush the rebellion, the local leaders wrote an appeal to Kofi Annan [axisoflogic.com].

    After the assault and massacre at Fallujah, the Iraqi resistance drew one important lesson: Taking control of an area were too dangerous for their families, because of the US onslaught. Thus, they shifted their strategy from large scale uprisings to hit and run tactics.

  • by Kell Bengal ( 711123 ) on Sunday April 12, 2009 @05:44PM (#27550863)
    I want to see a game where when you shoot the 'bad' guys, one of the others screams out "Billy! Oh god, noo!" I want to see games where the enemies are people and not just targets, and where civilians cry over the fallen.

    One of the most powerful scenes I recall seeing on TV involved two brothers ambushed by mobsters in a field. They beat one brother to death in front of the other, and the actor did a fantastic job bringing to life the grief and horror the character felt - he didn't care that he was about to die too, only that his brother had been slain and he was helpless to prevent it.

    Maybe if players get to see the effect on civilians and combatants, we will have a little less rah-rah-kill-them-all. It will certainly give the game world more depth.

  • by gknoy ( 899301 ) <<moc.smetsysizasana> <ta> <yonkg>> on Sunday April 12, 2009 @06:20PM (#27551095)

    We want games to get better recognition as an art form, as a narrative form, or something of other social value. Covering contemporary issues (not just Vietnam or Antietam or WWII) is, in my opinion, a GOOD thing. We already have games like Call of Duty ("modern warfare": a very current theme to the game) which have good narratives, which seem like they could be pulled from either a Tom Clancy novel or from the news. (And yes, there's the R6 series which *is* from Clancy.)

    The soldiers' perspective, whether told in the form of unsanctioned Youtube postings, blogs, memoirs, embedded reporters, or a video game, is important. We all say "OMG the horror!" when talking about war, but few of us know the horror. We need things that portray the brutality of war, in a way which is unsettling for the viewer. Saving Private Ryan's incredibly graphic opening was almost un-watchable, for me, and yet I consider that movie one of the best war films I've seen, for that very reason (among many others).

    We need video games that transcend the "Yay let's kill some nazis/terrorists/aliens!" theme, and portray also the sense of loss, uncertainty, or hard moral choices that can come with war. So, you might spend one "mission" being ambushed in the streets, or calling for a mortar strike on the roof of the building teeming with terrorists. The next, you would need to go clear the mosque or apartment building that they were at, and deal with the civilian casualties.

    The hard part is making a game which tells a story well, and conveys the emotions or messages that these soldiers want, while also making it Not Suck -- otherwise few will play it.

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