My Dad took my Grandpa to see Saving Private Ryan when it first came out in the theater. Then they bought Band of Brothers and watched it together. I remember listening to them talking about each of these afterward. "The scene, landing on the beaches in [Saving Private] Ryan, it's what it really sounds like," said my Grandpa. Dad agreed, "Yeah, the bullets, the whizzing, it was very real sounding." Similarly, Band of Brothers received praises for its understanding of the camaraderie between fellow soldiers from both of them.
Both my Dad and Grandpa served in the U.S. military; my father was stationed in the Philippines during the Vietnam War and my Grandpa was in the army in Europe during World War II. They both saw battle. They both experienced the camaraderie between soldiers. And they both seemed to want to see and experience these things again in movies and television series.
How odd, I thought, that they should want to relive these moments - moments that were no doubt terrifying, despite all their intense military training. But they aren't the only ones. My friends and their family members who've been in the military during wartime also seem to want, even need, to re-experience war through entertainment.
In recent years, the field of games has produced a number of war games to add to the mix. Indeed, several of my younger veteran friends find these games just as compelling as some of the movies released to the masses. And so I pondered whether my own Dad and Grandpa might find in games that something that seems to draw them into the other forms of entertainment. I decided to interview them for this issue on war games.
I had never really talked with either of them extensively about their time in the service; neither one is much of a talker. My Dad actually continued this trend, only admitting that he did see battle and that he'll never forget the sounds. My Grandpa, however, was feeling talkative.