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The Military Entertainment Games

When Does It Become OK To Make Games About a War? 295

The cancellation of Six Days in Fallujah seems to have stirred up almost as much debate as its original announcement. Given the popularity of World War II games, it seems clear that the main concern about a game focusing on modern war events relates to how recently they happened. Kotaku takes a look at some of the obstacles such a game would need to overcome to achieve broad acceptance. "When approaching a game that realistically depicts a modern combat situation, one criticism that often arises is the subject of fun. Can a realistic military shooter be fun? According to Ian Bogost, that's the wrong question to ask. 'We use the word fun as a placeholder, when we don't even really know what we mean when we look for some sort of enjoyment in a serious experience,' he said. Fun and entertainment aren't mutually exclusive, especially when it comes to entertainment based on real-world military conflicts. As Bogost explains, fun isn't the key word in this situation. 'It may not be possible to make a realistic war game that is fun — war is not fun — but it is possible to create an experience that is informative, appealing, and startling in a positive way.'"
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When Does It Become OK To Make Games About a War?

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  • by Cylix ( 55374 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @02:11AM (#27976627) Homepage Journal

    It's pretty much OK to do anything you want to do unless you plan on pissing off the vocal minority.

    I'm fairly certain the majority of us really don't give a damn what the next guy is going to do.

    It's that small percent who have an extremely horrid tact and shout much louder then necessary.

  • by jowilkin ( 1453165 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @02:17AM (#27976653)
    I think time is only a minor factor in this case. The level of "OK-ness" of making a war game is also highly correlated with the popularity of the war IMO. In World War II we seemed to have a clear enemy who was clearly in the wrong. It was cause for celebration to defeat them at the time and thus it's OK to relive this defeat in the form of a game. The Iraq war is extremely unpopular, and it's unclear whether we really "won" anything as a result of it.
    • by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @02:31AM (#27976735) Journal

      How would a GERMAN point of view in a war game be like. You might say that several all ready did offer you the option to play from the german side, but not on the box cover. Look at the art for games with two sides like the venerable Close Combat series. It is pretty clear who you are supposed to be playing. That you can also optionally play as the germans is just a small side note.

      But what is a game like Call of Duty etc had a german theme and worse, did not pretend that the german soldiers did not know what they were fighting for. Notice that most potrayals of symphatetic germans conveniently accepts "ich habe es nicht gewust" for fact. But it was the soldiers who rounded up the undesirables and put them on transport. Who took civilians hostage and executed them.

      How would a ww2 game that showed that be received?

      Not so good I think.

      for that matter, how about a vietnam game in which the americans get to torch houses and kill unarmed women and children? Hell, even make a vietnam war game where the americans are LOOSING. Or a dutch war game about the "police" actions in Indonesia, just to show this is not an anti-america thing.

      War games are acceptable as long as they show a clean version of a war with a goodie and a baddie and you are the goodie and the goodie is nothing but good and does nothing a baddie would ever do.

      • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @03:39AM (#27977039) Journal

        did not pretend that the german soldiers did not know what they were fighting for. Notice that most potrayals of symphatetic germans conveniently accepts "ich habe es nicht gewust" for fact. But it was the soldiers who rounded up the undesirables and put them on transport. Who took civilians hostage and executed them.

        Actually, it wasn't that simple.

        1. For a start you have to understand that what the bulshit Hollywood propaganda presents as a one "German army", was actually several branches, some of which weren't army at all. The SS for example was a paramilitary organization, _not_ a branch of the German army, and none too loved by the real army (the Wehrmacht.)

        Second, even Hitler understood and accepted that not everyone has the stomach for his racial purity solutions.

        The rounding up Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, etc, was done by volunteer groups -- the euphemistically called Einsatzgruppen [] or Sonderkommandos (special units) -- recruited from the SS, SD, Gestapo (all under Himmler, btw) and local volunteers, _not_ from the army.

        So, yes, most German soldiers didn't know jack squat about the extermination, and never rounded up anybody.

        If you want to see an example of how the real army felt when ordered to do some atrocity: when a German sub was sunk by airplanes while trying to tow to safety the survivors of a ship it torpedoed, Hitler was furious and ordered that subs machinegun all such survivors in the future. Dönitz argued that doing anything of the kind would cause a massive morale drop, and basically pretty much refused to do it. Hitler actually backed out of that idea. Subs did stop trying to rescue survivors, though.

        2. But to get back to the rounding up, you also have to understand another aspect: people are easier to round up when they don't know they're going to end up dead. After all, if you'll be killed anyway, what's your incentive to surrender to the guys with guns? At least running away or fighting back you still have a small chance to survive.

        And you can see in the Warsaw uprising what happened when people realized that they're dead in the long run anyway.

        So the "final solution" was actually kept somewhat secret, because, you know, the less people know about it, the less the risk that one of them will write to their former friend in Minsk to say stuff like "dude, hide before these guys come haul you to the gas chambers" and that guy tells _his_ friends about it, and it goes downhill from there. You have plenty of historical examples from elsewhere of exactly this kind of thing happening. E.g., the Gunpowder Plot in England failed when some conspirator tried to warn some other catholics to not be in the parliament on that day.

        The people rounded up and the population in those cities, were routinely told they're being merely deported to some other province, and encouraged to take whatever they think they'll need in a new home. (Incidentally, that ended up as loot for the nazis.)

        • Vote up. First poster should have read his history
        • You might as well argue that no american soldier knows the CIA tortures prisoners. That no soviet soldier knew about deportations to siberia.

          Talk to some real germans soldiers when they are willing to let their guard down. The knew, just didn't want to know and sure as hell couldn't admit to knowing after the war.

          When you are reading history, learn the difference between the one that is in the books written by people who wanted germany back in the civilized world as fast as possible and the real history.

          • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @05:16AM (#27977385) Journal

            You might as well argue that no american soldier knows the CIA tortures prisoners.

            Well, that's actually a perfect example, if you're willing to use your brain.

            How do you know about those tortures? Well, because there's a free press and Internet and all sorts of channels outside the government control that told you about it.

            In a totalitarian regime, with the press controlled by the government, yes, probably very few american soldiers would have had the faintest idea about what the CIA does. The american soldiers would have just seen their narrow slice of reality -- you know, some fighting, some patrolling occupied cities, some getting sniped, some of your pals being blown to bits by a roadside bomb -- and would have had no idea at all what happens to those arrested "terrorists", or in some cases that anyone was arrested at all.

            The final solution was to big to keep hidden.

            Except apparently it was secret enough that with all the partisans, and resistance, and spies, and captured german officers and all, the allies had no fucking clue about it either until they ran into an actual death camp. You'd think that something which is no secret at all (or so you claim) would leak sooner, no?

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              It took the Germans a while to come to their final solution, so it wasn't clear to the Allies that setting up camps and ghettos was a means of extermination, but they were fully aware that very bad things were happening to certain minorities in Europe. The Allies were quite sympathetic to fascism and racial theories, though, and thus were largely indifferent, at least until they found themselves under attack. Look at the world's almost non-existent reaction to the slaughters in Africa nowadays, and it's cle
          • by hughk ( 248126 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @07:47AM (#27977913) Journal

            Talk to some real germans soldiers when they are willing to let their guard down. The knew, just didn't want to know and sure as hell couldn't admit to knowing after the war.

            Not quite correct because most soldiers saw the front and little else. Only special units were used for rounding up and dealing with the jews/other undesirables. However the treatment generally given to the enemy civilians in both Russia and the Ukraine was quite harsh, there were little of the 'cleaning up operations' near the front-lines. For the soldiers of occupation, things would have been different.

            What is interesting though is the civilian machinery behind the camps. Moving vast numbers of people around required a massive infrastructure with corresponding paperwork (we are talking Germans here) and it has been shown that many people in the Reichsbahn (Railway service of the time) must have known about extermination implied movements of people in the cattle trucks into the extermination camps with no movement out.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by afabbro ( 33948 )

            Talk to some real germans soldiers when they are willing to let their guard down.

            You better be quick about it, since the youngest ones are in their 80s now.

        • by moosesocks ( 264553 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @04:26AM (#27977175) Homepage

          Mod parent way up.

          The healing process after WWII is an interesting topic to study and debate. Although there were some painful moments, the US, Japan, and Europe emerged as economic superpowers, with very few hard feelings left behind after the war.

          It was also important that we won the war in a manner that didn't turn the entire population against us. Of course, the warfare techniques used by the Viet Cong and Iraqi insurgency seem to have been designed to drag as many civilians into the conflict as possible.

          It also didn't help that the US forces had a very poor understanding of the foreign culture and language in either of these conflicts. Had there been an extensive ground war in Japan, a similar situation would likely have emerged.

          Lesson: The reconstruction is just as (if not more) important than the war itself. Also, make sure you understand the people you're invading.

          • by martin-boundary ( 547041 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @04:56AM (#27977299)

            Of course, the warfare techniques used by the Viet Cong and Iraqi insurgency seem to have been designed to drag as many civilians into the conflict as possible.

            Is that as opposed to e.g. the firebombing of Dresden or the two atomic bombs? Don't kid yourself, WWII was always intended to be a "total war".

            What made it "relatively" safe for civilians in the occupied territories and in places far from the action such as America was merely the huge distances involved coupled with the limits of technology at the time. If America had been as close as Britain to Europe, it would have been in danger of bombing just as much.

            I also think you're off on the reconstruction. It's easy to reconstruct an already highly developed country, it practically reconstructs itself. That's why Germany and Japan are such success stories. The war lasted a handful of years, less than a generation. That's short enough so that people can rebuild their society as it was, and incorporate simple changes in structure like who's at the top. Just give them peace and some money.

            If you look at Iraq or Afghanistan, these places have been at war on and off for most of two generations. Those places can't reconstruct themselves to a prior point, because the people who remember how the institutions worked and how society worked are mostly gone, and most young people have experienced only misery and have no idea what a modern developed society would look like.

            Lesson: if you have to wage war, make sure it doesn't go on for more than five years...

            • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @05:48AM (#27977509)

              There are other factors too.

              Culture plays in to it as well. How do the people see themselves, their culture, etc? Both the Germans and Japanese have a sense of cultural identity, and a sense of duty and importance above ones self. There is an idea that you are part of a larger community and that matters, and that you should work for the betterment of the future generations. That's not so much the case in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is a very tribal mentality there. It's about what's good of "me and mine." People outside your tribe (which has varying definitions of course) aren't important, and maybe are even enemies.

              Now of course this is not universal in any case, when you have a group of humans you'll find all different types, but it is a strong cultural trend. Well, that makes for differences in rebuilding. When you have people who are more willing to accept the idea of "Work to improve the country as a whole," work along those lines will go better. When you have a culture who's more worried about getting a leg up on the tribe next door, it doesn't go so well.

              Also, the extent of defeat is important. You mention some famous bombings and there are more (Tokyo was firebombed, for example about 100,000 dead). Germany and Japan weren't beaten, they were crushed. Their militaries had been totally destroyed to the point Germany was fielding 13 year olds as soldiers near the end of the war, their industries destroyed, and their spirits broken. This wasn't a case of "Well they beat us this time," this was a case of being pushed to the brink of total destruction. Goes double given that the US propaganda said they had warehouses of atomic bombs and, had that really been the case, they could have laid waste to a country with ease.

              Much easier to get cooperation out of a people when they've been defeated to that extent. Any large amount of resistance is hard both because there is just no materials for it (weapons and such), and in terms of having the morale to do so.

              Then there's the situation of outside support to consider. In Iraq certianly, many of the resistance elements are not coming from the country itself. They are foreign, sometimes even backed by foreign governments. That makes it easier to keep a fight going. When you've got someone else supplying weapons, personnel, supplies, training and so on makes it easier to keep the fight going. That didn't happen in Germany or Japan. In both cases, the nations around them were none to happy with them, and weren't going to be helping out. Also, the allies wouldn't have put up with any shit. Trying to fuel a German resistance would have been a good invitation for an ass kicking.

              I could keep going, there are many more differences. A whole lot of it just relates to the way war was done. WWII was a no fucking around conflict, the allies went all in and were willing to do whatever it took to win. If that meant leveling multiple cities and killing millions, then so be it. That's precisely what was done, too. That really changes the aftermath.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          The issues about the sinking of that submarine are actually rather interesting, and more info is available here: []

          In short, here's the message transcript:
          From Laconia, a British ocean liner, indicating a submarine attack:
          1942-09-12, 2222h: SSS SSS 0434 South / 1125 West Laconia torpedoed

          U-156, German submarine under command of KaLeu Hartenstein, sent an encrypted message to the German CINC of Submarines, Admiral Dönitz:
          1942-09-13, 0142h: Sunk by Hartenstein B

        • by Yokaze ( 70883 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @05:49AM (#27977513)

          > The rounding up Jews, Gypsies, Slavs, etc, was done by volunteer groups [...] _not_ from the army.
          > So, yes, most German soldiers didn't know jack squat about the extermination, and never rounded up anybody.

          It is in a way simpler and more complicated as you put it. The guilt is not easily divided by branches.
          The Wehrmacht actively participated [] in the genocide and committed other atrocities and war-crimes.
          While parts of the Wehrmacht displayed various degrees of opposition against the orders of the regime and sometimes even some humanity, it doesn't negate the war crimes executed, tolerated and even ordered by the Wehrmacht, such as rounding up and summary execution of civilians as retaliation for guerilla acts. Torture and rape was also common.
          And that was on the western front, were the Nazis due to their racial ideology wanted to show some restrain. I leave it up to either your curiosity or imagination, what happened on the eastern front, where the people were deemed as being lesser, and the Nazis wanted Lebensraum.

          > So the "final solution" was actually kept somewhat secret, because, you know, the less people know about it, [...]

          A common excuse of the German people in the '45-'68: We didn't know about it. There is only as much truth about it, that next to no one wanted to know about it.
          There were some KZs near major German cities (the ones in remember: Buchenwald near Munich, Sachsenhausen near Berlin), and people were complaining about the stink the crematoria were producing.
          People killing Jews in the Progrom were not prosecuted. People resisting deportation were shot. Under these circumstances, the children of the war-generation in Germany didn't wanted to believe the lie, that the general populace did not knew about the genocide.

          > But to get back to the rounding up, you also have to understand another aspect: people are easier to round up when they don't know they're going to end up dead.

          And you have to understand, that in the face of an armed squad, where resistance means certain death of you and your family, people will not only be easily rounded up, but even bury their own grave, as they clasp for the little bit of hope, that every second they live, they still have chance to survive, regardless how irrational this hope is. The Nazis certainly did their minimal part to support that vain hope.

          All the people knew, they would be killed. They just didn't want to realise it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by schweini ( 607711 )
            I think it's a lot less black-and-white than this:
            I once heard a talk from an ex-Nazi in Germany, and - even though he admitted his and the german's guilt without restraint - tried to at least explain what was going on in the following way:
            He said that, yes, when someone asks him why basically nobody did anything to stop the holocaust, the best way to describe it was to say "we didn't really know about it!". But it's a different form of 'not knowing'. Sure, one could see the train-transports going to the
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          It feels like you're missing the parent comment's point over semantics. Regardless of which members of the German military were responsible for extermination, his point remains valid - we're only shown the clean, good, "let's have a go at this jolly old war" point of view in video games. Video games about war are where movies about war were in the 50s and 60s. It's unrealistic, idealistic and naive. But this presents a problem: I personally don't want to play a game where I'm torturing people, or killing
          • by Fred_A ( 10934 )

            But this presents a problem: I personally don't want to play a game where I'm torturing people, or killing civilians, but I also don't want to play a game that is supposed to be a realistic account of war where morality and right and wrong slide into a gray area.

            On the other hand, were it done right it would make for a very interesting game (the grey area I mean, the torture bit wouldn't add anything).
            However I'm afraid it would be extremely difficult to pull off successfully. Few films managed it and with games where the player has to feel at least a degree of freedom it would probably be even more difficult.

            But I'd be interested to see a studio tackle the subject of morality in war. A few games have tried to add moral choices (like that underwater ruined city thi

          • Well, then to get back to that original point: what makes you think that playing as a Wehrmacht soldier in a WW2 game would be any different?

            Virtually nobody wants to think of themselves as evil fucks, even _if_ they happened to be the ones who had a hint of what's happening. We've had millenia of inventing and perverting concepts like "honour" to rationalize killing someone else as "good". The humans natural instincts to not kill each other (see, mirror neurons []) have been twisted against them jiu-jitsu sty

        • by Cyberax ( 705495 )

          "So, yes, most German soldiers didn't know jack squat about the extermination, and never rounded up anybody."

          Yup. That's why the Wehrmacht happily committed heinous crimes in occupied territories (Russia, Poland, Ukraine). Mostly because Wehrmacht soldiers were not disciplined for crimes against local population.

        • Whether or not the soldiers knew, didn't know, or chose not to notice; the Wehrmacht did plenty of horrible things all on their own.

          Exhibition on Crimes of the German Wehrmacht [] (site looks a bit off when viewed in a big window)

          Also: Wikipedia on War crimes of the Wehrmacht [] (I haven't actually checked the article, this topic has an extremely high chance for NPOV violations.)

          And calling the SS a paramilitary organisation doesn't mean much. The the Waffen SS was a military organisation which at its peak had cl

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Hognoxious ( 631665 )

        How would a GERMAN point of view in a war game be like.

        Well for one thing, there won't be many jokes.

        • by Fred_A ( 10934 )

          Well for one thing, there won't be many jokes.

          There's always, um..
          "My dog has no nose ! ..."
          Eh, ok, I see what you mean. Never mind.

      • I like all those ideas. Games should depend on play for their outcomes, and not be biased to one side.

        Actions in-game should have reasonable results, for example the commission of "war crimes"/unfashionable acts isn't always adverse to victory. The massacres by the NVA at Hue had zero negative consequences for the NVA, while the media attention to the US massacre at Son My backfired.

        History is written by the victors, who determine what is "right" or "wrong".

    • by jd ( 1658 ) <> on Saturday May 16, 2009 @03:23AM (#27976963) Homepage Journal

      I'd also argue that accuracy is also a key element. "Old School" wargamers took pride in analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of each side, presenting the simulation with at least a semblance of impartiality.

      In this case, however, the game is biased, jingoistic and unrealistic. And, as you observe, it supports a cause that has been largely rejected.

      The first part will have alienated the old school wargamers, the latter part will have alienated a lot of gamers who are not far right-wing.

      I guess, ultimately, that's the true test of the OKness of a game - if you alienate the audience, it's not ok.

    • The problem with WWII was that one of the partners that defeated "the clear enemy", the Soviet Union, was even more clearly in the wrong.

      The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was responsible for more deaths during its reign than the NSDAP.

      WWII was basically a titanic showdown between TWO evil regimes where the west got involved and won because they funded a very dubious partner.

      Most of the fighting that led to the downfall of the Third Reich happened on the Eastern Front. Hitler committed a third of his a

      • Americans trying to take credit for the Soviet victories yet again.

        Why can't you just accept that they were good enough to kick Hitler's ass. Even if they never did anything else good, that's a gold medal right there.

  • by Ann Coulter ( 614889 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @02:18AM (#27976657) Journal

    ... where every single person who participated in it is dead.

    • ... where every single person who participated in it is dead.

      Do you feel the same way about films? Were The Dambusters, Saving Private Ryan, and Casablanca tasteless for the reason you suggest?
      How about novels?
      How about "edutainment" documentaries?
      How about biographies?
      How about historical books?
      How about encyclopaedia articles?

      What, exactly, is the reason for your drawing the line where you draw it?

  • by someonehasmyname ( 465543 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @02:19AM (#27976675)

    I think Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a perfect example of a modern war game that hasn't gotten too much flack.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I think Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a perfect example of a modern war game that hasn't gotten too much flack.

      Yes, but it wasn't based as strongly on a real life conflict, this game was based strongly on a conflict, and it also presents it from the non-American view from what I can make out from the feature article

  • It's always okay (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @02:26AM (#27976701)

    The problem wasn't the controversy, it was that Konami buckled. Anytime a company gives signs of backing off, you'll have a bunch of groups charge in like pack animals to set their agenda. Jack Thompson has been trying it for years. He would have loved that type of weakness in companies. So Konami pretty much blew it.

    You can't tell me beating up prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto is better than a modern day war simulation. For every person saying "but that's someone's son" in regards to the war game, you could say "but it portraying someone's daughter in GTA"...

    If recency were such a controversial thing, you couldn't have documentaries of events newer than 20 year old, let alone what is happening in the world today. The subject matter isn't all that different from any other game of its type, and I'm sure the soldiers in the "soldier groups" protesting the game have played their fair share FPS/GTA/Survival_Horror, so there probably is a fair bit of hypocrisy going about trying to make this or that topic sancrosanct and taboo.

    • The general gist of this is true. It looks great to be able to claim victory in any arena as a special interest group. It's what gets supporters to write checks to your cause.

      Even celebrities like to wave the flag of victory when they really have no say so but simply state their opinion. If their opinion is in line with future movement of any type they like to claim they played a part. We know that it's hardly true, any one of use who isn't blind seen the momentum that ensured a victory before some of thes
      • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

        It's like betting on the baseball game when it's 12-0, bottom of the 9th and 2 men out.

        And that is why the rest of the world doesn't understand baseball terminology.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by caluml ( 551744 )
          Monty's stats are 12 overs, 3 maidens, 4 for 32. Smith was out LBW, and Jones was caught at deep square leg off a full toss from Barton. Australia avoided the follow-on, and won by 3 wickets.

          There's terminology in all games.
  • One the 7th day of Fallujah, they could have released the game.... as long as they had changed the title, the media blackout would have made the game "fictional"
  • When it's over (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @02:36AM (#27976753) Homepage

    How about you first start out by not developing a game based on an on-going war. For example, had the technology existed, I would not be developing a WW2 game in the middle of f-ing WW2!!!

    • Re:When it's over (Score:4, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @03:02AM (#27976845) Journal

      When it's over

      Your solution is self-censorship, yet you present no reason or logic to back it up.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by DigiShaman ( 671371 )

        Because war is a serious event in which people die (for better or worse). We shouldn't let the fantasy of a video game with unlimited continues diminish the value of those who put their life on the line.

        To put it bluntly, it's a slap in the face. How would you feel if you were serving in Iraq while someone that same day is replaying similar events in the comfort of his home on US soil.

        But hey, that's just my opinion.

        • I think I'd feel the same was as if I was fighting in Iraq and had to pay for my own meals and armor up my own humvee from scrap metal while people at home were living large. We trivialize the efforts of the military in very many real ways. I don't know if the fantasy ways are that important.

          • Crying me a fucking river.... they've got more money than other institution in the world and have been given unconditional power of life and death over everybody else, so forgive me if I don't shed any tears over those guys actually having to experience some hardship. And don't give me any crap about rules of engagement, idiotic conventions and such, nobody enforces those just like nobody keeps police forces in check back home.
        • by rts008 ( 812749 )

          Because war is a serious event in which people die (for better or worse).

          Seriously? That's pretty selective and naive.
          Try this on for size:
          Because life is a serious event in which people die (for better or worse).

          How would you feel if you were serving in Iraq while someone that same day is replaying similar events in the comfort of his home on US soil.

          Well, if they bothered to occasionally send me a bag of Cheetos and some pr0n, I would be fine. If not, then I would still be fine with it.

          Why would it even matter until/unless a mandatory draft(with no exceptions) is implemented? There have always been a 'civilians back home doing 'x', while I'm here in 'y' getting shot at' disparity of perspective since gov't.'s have

      • Why?

        Because when a war is not over, making a game about it can get people killed.

        A gaming laptop loaded with a game about Fallujah would be a terrific tools for the people that go to poor villages to recruit suicide bombers. Show it to young men there (most of whom have never played a video game), and say that the Americans treat killing Muslims as a game to amuse their rich children.

        • by rts008 ( 812749 )

          HahHaHaHaHa! HeeHeeHeeHoHoHoHo!!

          Oh, you're serious?
          That's even funnier!

    • by syousef ( 465911 )

      How about you first start out by not developing a game based on an on-going war. For example, had the technology existed, I would not be developing a WW2 game in the middle of f-ing WW2!!!

      So it's okay to wage a war, kill thousands or millions of innocent people etc., but it's not okay to make a game about it. Personally I think that's fucking ridiculous. I'm sure the first thing a soldier's concerned about is whether or not someone's made a game out of their hellish experience when they're fighting that war

    • by jd ( 1658 )

      Although the wargames he used were not computer-based, he relied extensively on wargames and battle simulations to plan strategy and tactics. The main reason he lost in Africa, according to what I've read, was that the people he had feeding data into the simulations were nationalists who preferred jingo to honesty. Garbage in, garbage out. If not for that, he might well have stalemated his opponents or won.

      This example is cited in a number of books on the history of wargaming that I've read on why it is ess

      • Rommel was an experienced general and very successful early in the war. He wouldn't be fooled by overly oprtimistic projections and wishful thinking. His boss however was a different thing.

        I think it was more that the RAF and RN got supplies through to Monty, while stopping Rommel getting much.

        • by hughk ( 248126 )
          This directly came back to the Ultra thing where Bletchley park could read Rommel's pleas for fuel and then attack the convoys carrying same to North Africa. All Monty had to do was to work out when Rommel was particularly limited by fuel and attack at that point.
    • True, that's pretty risky. But if you absolutely can't wait, at least make sure that the player can control either side of their choice. Nobody wants to pay $80 for a game that turns out to back the wrong horse in the end.
    • When it's over

      So... when 'Terrorism' surrenders, then? Don't hold your breath.

  • That just sounds to me like the biggest pile of circumventing, euphemistic bullcrap I've read in a long time. If you want to make your game, go ahead and do it and don't pretend that the people who play it aren't having 'fun'. If you get to deal with the consequences then man-up and face the music. Don't try to explain away with fancy words that what's just controversial and that what's just human nature. Bah.

  • I have an idea (Score:2, Interesting)

    How about when kids born during are old enough to play? Seems like a safe bet ;)
  • It will always been too soon to make a game about any real war to some group. There is a sort of logarithmic scale to the number of people offended by a particular war being depicted in video games.

    Also, the accuracy of the war is important. More specifically, less accurate representations of wars that favor your market's culture's "good guys" will be more acceptable than highly accurate depictions. Even if your side won, you want to keep the image that they completely won, with as little difficulty as pos
  • One quote from the article really stood out. It kind of bothers me.

    " The former Army colonel was quite clear on his opinion of that matter.
    "If you're working with the enemy, that's called treason. The jihadist killing our people today would love to get a larger audience to perpetrate their hate."

    This is precisely the same argument that is being kicked back and forth over the torture photos. Basically, the colonel is saying it's treason to even ask the insurgents why they are trying to kill us. He's also

    • by Fred_A ( 10934 )

      At times talking to the military is a bit like talking to religious extremists. You get more insightful replies from a brick. Goes with the job I suppose. There's probably a manual that covers this "Field Brick Impersonation Manual Ref US89469 Mark 3" or something.

  • Better question... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nekomusume ( 956306 )

    Is it possible to make a realistic war game?

    I vote "no" due to the fact that you really can't get hurt and probably won't develop PTD after watching your buddy's face explode in a shower of blood and bone, leaving you to wash his brains out of your mouth.

    Not to mention that most wargames don't involve the player having to realistically deal with other people on their own side comitting war atrocities - never mind comitting them themselves.

  • that's what freedom is. anyone who is opposed is a freedom hating commie.
  • by Akir ( 878284 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @03:27AM (#27976987)
    Now it's time to reveal to the world a part of my philosophy. There is no such thing as controversy; controversy is simply an illusion that an issue is so big that it will effect everyone. The truth is that while there are events which can cause effect a great deal of people, there isn't really much that can effect everyone - all I can think of is someone accidentally creating a virus that kills everyone on the planet or nuclear holocaust.

    Now as I mentioned before, people are illusioned into believing that something is extremely important. The reality is that most of the controversy is simply caused by stupidity. Sadly, I'm wrong when I say it's caused by stupidity; it's usually caused by willful ignorance in the form of religion. Though I do admit that there are some caused by bigotry, idiocy, and normal ignorance as well.

    Think about it - What are the big controversies today in America? I'll list some for you:
    • abortion
    • evolution vs. creationism vs. intelligent design
    • stem cell research
    • civil rights for gays, especially marriage
    • pornography.

    Those are all caused by religious institutions; the pope hates them all. and there's such opposition to these issues because, guess what? They hurt their feelings. And they remain controversial because of bigotry. But there are some very minor controversies out there that aren't caused by Christianity; gun control and the war on drugs, for instance. These issues are caused by sheer ignorance.

    How does this relate to the topic in hand? It's hard to say. Games based on real, current wars aren't controversial because of people's bigotry, idiocy, stupidity, or willing or unknowing ignorance.
    In fact, I'd go so far as to say that this type of game isn't controversial at all. What it is, however, is stigmatic. People have different views on the war, and because not everyone agrees with it, and even though it's a subject that people can have differing opinions on it without getting upset, it instantly becomes taboo.
    So the real problem is that people and organizations have become so incredibly afraid of being politically incorrect, they're not even willing to go along with anything that people won't agree on. Which means that the shelves of the game stores will continue to be filled with endless sequels, because someone might be offended with anything new, and in an overly-sensitive global society, that's enough to get your game banned.

    To sum up what I was trying to say, current-war games aren't controversial, but are simply too new of an idea.

    I hope my message got across well; I'm actually doped out on sleeping pills right now. I'm not even sure that I wrote about the point I was trying to make.... I'm a very confused man at the moment.

    P.S. I think I meant to say earlier that controversies are caused by intolerance. Ex: Fable was controversial for being able to play a gay character.

    • There's a different model that explains controversy with concentric circles. Think of all possible topics of discussion and debate as residing somewhere in a set of concentric circles. The innermost is the circle of consensus. These are items that "everyone" agrees on; drug crimes should carry heavy penalties, Democrat and Republican are the only two choices in an election, there is a god, things like this. The next circle out holds topics that are controversial, and which "everyone" accepts can be reas

  • by Davemania ( 580154 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @03:28AM (#27976991) Journal
    Remember that one of the game publisher decided to cash in on the term "Shock and Awe" and realize that there was a public back lash at the attempt to cash in on the Iraq war. I think people need to realize one thing. This is not a freedom of speech issue, they're a private company and if they tick off the people that generates their profits, they'll probably do what it takes to protect that revenue source.
    • by Suzuran ( 163234 )

      That's not what happened. This game was shut down by anti war protesters because they were scared it might generate some sympathy for what the troops have to deal with over there. Much better for us that we think of them as the baby-murdering hospital-bombing demons the press tells us they are.

  • by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @03:29AM (#27976997)

    Fun and entertainment aren't mutually exclusive, especially when it comes to entertainment based on real-world military conflicts

    Eh? Could you run that one past me one more time? It would make sense if you said something like "Fun and education aren't mutually exclusive", but as it is stands it is a tautology.

    When it comes to war, what is acceptable and in good taste depends on whether it allows people to come to terms with what has happened. WWII ended a while back, AFAIK, and people in Europe are still trying to come to terms with it - which is why in UK there is hardly one night when there is not at least one programme rehashing the events, or a comedy series or whatever. In UK we haven't even quite come to terms with WWI yet, and perhaps one shouldn't really expect to get to the state where it is just the subject of idle fun.

    In my opinion, coming to terms with events of this magnitude means facing up to all aspects of what has happened, and for Falluja we aren't even close to that yet; this is not just a question of showing a bit of tact and respect for the tens of thousands innocents that were allegedly slaughered by Americans troops, but also a question of our integrity and moral standing. On a personal level I find it revolting and deeply disturbing that a bunch of soldiers - possibly henchmen in a horrifying crime - are now trying to milk the story for what it is worth. Talk about military honour.

    And before anyone begins to spout nonsense about "the global anti-Americanism", let me point out that since you elected Obama, things have changed a lot in the world; not because we think he is going to do what we want him to do, but because we believe that he genuinely represents the American people, and we trust and respect the American people.

  • Define "Fun" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @03:38AM (#27977029) Homepage Journal
    Its totally subjective. Influenced by cultural issues, maybe, but you can pretty much define what is fun for you. You could ask if is moral, ethic, damage sensibilities, etc... but fun, that goes with each one.
  • When the societies processed it enough that it's comfortable trivializing it. Probably after the generation that had to fight it has had time to rebuild their lives enough to distance themselves from it.
  • by Thedeviluno ( 903528 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @03:39AM (#27977045) Homepage
    The difference between heroics and butchery. Fallujah was a Massacre. Hard to celebrate atrocity.
  • by Toonol ( 1057698 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @04:10AM (#27977125)
    "Can it be fun" should be the first question asked when designing a game, through every step of the process.

    And the answer for a realistic modern warfare game, is "Of course."

    That nearly merits a "Duh".
  • I wonder if it's the "active re-enactment" of the war that gets people more than "the war as entertainment". Three Kings was a fairly major movie about another conflict in that area that took place, what, 7 years before it was made? That's not a terribly long time.
  • I don't think games always have to be fun. 'Fun' is such a shallow concept. Games can be entertaining, educational, emotional and other things without being 'fun'. As an example may I point you to a game about the Israel-Palestine conflict that hit me hard emotionally and opened my eyes to the circumstances people have to live in every day in some places in Israel? It's called Global Conflics: Palestine [] and does a very good job of giving an unbiased impression of the situation there.

  • Varies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MikShapi ( 681808 ) on Saturday May 16, 2009 @05:41AM (#27977489) Journal

    It all depends on how much of an emotional toll said war has taken over the public you're selling your game(/movie/book/whatever) to.

    An interesting huge thing that factors into that is who we perceive the "good guys" were in the real war - if we do so at all.

    I don't really have any emotional connection with, say, either side of the wars Troy had.

    Being a Jew and an Australian/Israeli I find it hard to watch films looking at the conflicts "my side" had a part in, tenfold so when viewed from the "wrong side".

    There were several such works done over the years, and it's very interesting to see how the public accepts (or doesn't) a work of art (devoid of political message, I'm not referring to media created as propaganda) - such as Avanti Popolo (Israeli indie film that follows a squad of cut-off purposeless Egyptian soldiers through the desert as they're attempting to return home, simply painting them as human), or, if you want to go more extreme, stuff like Das Boot.

    Das Boot was made some four decades(!) - that's just short of three generations - after WWII and the holocaust, and people - worldwide, not just holocaust survivors & families - had a huge problem accepting it (I relate, I watched it with a distressing sense of unease, my own family was cut down in the holocaust from some 50 people to under 10), mainly because it humanized the Nazis (and it did nothing provocative a-la 'what about all the good things Hitler did' statementa, it just followed a bunch of young (Nazi German) sailors on a U-boat whose main concern throughout the movie was getting back home in one piece, with pretty much piss-all politics or nazi agenda. Just human beings and immediate hardships common to us all. Acceptance? Rather bad (though the amount of controversy-spawned publicity they got was rather good... "as long as they spell my name right...")

    To answer your question - depends on how loaded the conflict in question was. Depends on which side it's presented from. Depending on whether the people it's presented TO have made peace with the historic conflict or not... And that can take a good while.

    As a curiosity relating closure on conflicts, here in Australia we devote a day each year - ANZAC day - to paying our respects to those who fought in our wars. There is a solemn march on this day, and in it march the veterans (or those related to them etc). Keep in mind we've taken an active part in nearly every conflict America was involved in since the start of the century.

    And here's the kicker - it doesn't matter which side you fought on. It doesn't matter if back then you were "the enemy". Having come, myself, from a country that lacks anything even remotely resembling closure on past conflicts.
    I really think achieving closure thus is a genuinely cool thing.

    I've also seen it with US/Allied WWII vets doing same with their German and Japanese vets.

    And if you've got that and you can avoid carrying a political message that'll de-label you as art and label you as a form of propaganda, you can popularize it in media all you want.

  • Americas Army? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TigerTails ( 1453761 )
    A lot of people whine about Americas Army because of the "realistically long" training that is required. However, I find that the game itself is as fun as any other FPS. If people whine about "war games", why not completely abandon FPS gaming all together. CSS is about fighting, in a war. BF2 is about fighting, in a war. BF2142 is about fighting, in a war. Unreal Tournament is about fighting, in a war. Any game that has teams, and guns, is likely fighting.. in a war.
  • When there is no innovation left in the gaming industry and when the decisions of the people buying those games are driven by not quality but by trends

Marvelous! The super-user's going to boot me! What a finely tuned response to the situation!