Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Games With Fake Wars Are Stupid

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 19 Mar 2013 16:00
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His response is that all those farmers can be hired to build armaments instead. That's a great idea, except that the farmers, and also you, have to eat at some point. Your company still needs manpower, electricity and facilities, any one of which could be lost from a single inconvenient bomb. And then, even if you do make lots of money from security contracts, it doesn't take much enemy action for that money to lose value. What if they blockade trade, or nuke the stock market?

But okay, let's say they're only encouraging a war between countries far away from where their head office is based. You still run into the problem that:

2. Any secret evil scheme a PMC concocts is inherently insecure

I'm just going to assume that you probably don't want it getting out that your company funds terrorists or deliberately and calculatedly fuels war. And a corporation, by nature of being big and faceless, consists of a large number of individuals, any one of which could grow a conscience at any time. What are you hoping will prevent that? Company loyalty? I already said that the whole reason PMCs are a popular villain is because their employees aren't loyal to any kind of ideology, only to money. And they might think that there's more money in blackmail, or turning you in, than putting their lives on the line for a yearly salary. You have no right to look surprised if you exclusively hire amoral traitors and then they betray you.

But even if you did manage to secure the perfect combination of ruthlessness and loyalty in your workforce, you can't escape the fact that:

3. Creating a niche for your business doesn't necessarily mean you'll fill it

The equivalent to the "Engineer war so that people will hire your PMC" scheme would be if someone at, say, Cadbury's, tried to improve sales by dumping hunger-inducing drugs into the water supply. You make everyone hungry, but they're not necessarily going to buy your product, are they. This notion often seems to slip by the evil PMC. The warring armies could just as easily buy security from one of their competitors, who might then drive them out of business. That seems like something of a risk, on top of the financial risk from the no doubt stupid amounts of cash being blown on the scheme, and also the risk of being found out, going to prison, and getting nobbed in the showers.

And finally:

4. It's an unhealthy paranoid fantasy

When bad things happen, looking for something to blame is a very human response. None of us like to think that we live in a world where any one of us could be crushed by uncontrolled chaotic forces at any time. So if we can't find a clear culprit, we look for whoever benefits, and then it's a small step to depict them as actually having calculated it. But I think we as a species would be a lot mentally healthier if we stopped taking comfort in delusions and learned to accept the transitive nature of our existence. That's why I spend my Sunday evenings in an airtight box with a poison gas capsule set up to release on the decay of a single radioactive atom.

Yahtzee is a British-born, currently Australian-based writer and gamer with a sweet hat and a chip on his shoulder. When he isn't talking very fast into a headset mic he also designs freeware adventure games. His personal site is www.fullyramblomatic.com.

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