Modern Warfare is a Comforting Lie

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Modern Warfare is the hundred swords of Aegon's fallen, a story we keep telling each other over and over until we forget that its a lie.

Leaper:
All politics and moral lessons aside, whole technical aspect of the Modern Military Shooters (MMS) is just flawed to the core. They simply do not portray how actual military engagements happen. You do not run through the streets with you assault rifles. You do not go into crossfire with enemies who are ~10 meters away from you. You do not blindly shoot in urban areas. Etc etc.

Like one person on the internet said : "You want realism? Here is realism : You wake up, get dressed up, ride humwee whole day, trying to look cool, you go back to barracks, sleep, repeat"

Actual military engagements nowadays are invisible wars - you do not see the enemy, because they are either in prepared positions, too far away for to actually see them, or are concealed in terrain. You roughly identify enemy's position and light it up with what you have. Most of the time any shooting happens, you are shooting boogy men - something that you think is there, but cannot say 100% certain.

I won't even go into details about hardware, Rules of Engagement or any other stuff.

I would actually like that some games perhaps would stay out of "war porn" and would rather try to simulate actual military engagements, the way that Arma does.

not to mention, but firefights, actual firefights, not Indirect Fire, only last roughly a few minutes.

Sure, when we first got boots on the ground, some firefights would last a few hours, but now? you would be unlucky if one lasted more than 10 minutes.

Also, I laugh at some of the 'technology' MMS'es use, bet none of them know what a LRAS3 is, or it's capabilities. just a hint, with that I could not only laser designate several targets from about 3 to 4 kilometers away with a 3 meter area error, but I could see what brand of soda you are drinking, or how many cigarets you have left in a pack.

But yea, most of the time it's simply waking up, do PT, eat breakfast if you are lucky enough to be at an actual base and not an OP, get your mission for the day done [such as patrol, guard duty, motor pool duty, or in some rare cases cooking], head back to the barracks and get some sleep.

Unless you are on QRF, then you are at 100% ready until you are relieved just in case something does go down.

I would like to see more MMS'es be about actual Modern Militaries, and less "SAVE TO WORLD GENERIC SOLDIER #1241235, BECAUSE FUCK YOU, PLOT UP IN THIS BITCH!"

I know it's not much but this kinda why I like Strategy games, you do have to deal with the aftermath in a sense. I know it's not dealing with civilians who belived you just conquered their country for pure greed but if I send half my army to take a particular piece of real estate I better have some idea about what I'm gonna do with it afterwords.

"Ok just just lost half my army to take this oil rig...and I have no way to make use of the resources because my supply trucks just got bombed, great"

WaitWHAT:

Machine Man 1992:
TL;DR Modern Warfare is bad and you should feel bad. This piece of fiction and entertainment isn't like real life so we should all stop doing it. Why can't all games be gritty and depressing like Spec Ops: The Line?

I don't mean do be that guy, but any article on modern warfare, the series or it's imitators, is predictable to the point of parody.

Well, personally, if I wanted to contradict an article which carefully and logically explained why there were problems with the portrayal of modern warfare in games with several examples to back it up, I'd to more than simply pointing at it and going "You love Spec Ops! You love Spec Ops! Nuh nuh nuh-nuh nuh". I mean, heaven forbid that game analysts want to tackle the very serious topic of the real events of modern warfare (and its catastrophic real-life impacts), even if it means criticising a franchise that you enjoy.

That wasn't at all what I said.

And I loathe The Line.

I have an idea for a realistic war game.

The game starts where you're an Iraqi kid leaving school to go home and when you get there it's a pile of rubble and your whole family is dead. Cut to 10 years later and now your an "insurgent" fighting the American invaders who occupy your country.

It's about fucking time someone else noticed.

Granted the COD series was never about "modern warfare", but an extension of the original COD paradigm to a pseudo-modern setting. It was popular, and thus it spawned sequels and will continue doing so until it runs out of sharks to jump.

I think RhombusHatesYou nailed it, though he listed a number of features I wouldn't necessarily include. Here's some features I think we're sorely missing from a gritty shooter:

IEDs by the sackful: One way to do this is just to make the occasional civilian walk up to the player (or a VIP) and explode with enough punch to toss a tank. Let this happen enough times and the player will take seriously anyone who gets too close to him, or will gun down everyone hoping Allah will know His own.

~ Occasionally, a throughway or courtyard will be wired to blow if anyone goes through it. The trap may be difficult or even impossible to spot. Only by reloading and respawning (i.e. by the grace of being the protagonist) does the player know not to go there.

~ An old video game classic! Send the player in with a bunch of support that is inconveniently taken out by IEDs. Then let him shoot his way out.

~ The WWII version of this was Ar-fucking-tillery, though there are a number of sources of death-from-somewhere-without-warning. The sniper who you never find before he kills half your squad is still part of the fun.

Casualties who aren't quite dead yet: As per RhombusHatesYou's screaming-for-a-medivac idea, people who are blown apart and aren't quite in shock enough to recognize they really shouldn't be alive. Let them beg the player for help. Let them cry like a baby (literally -- they do that and it still rattles your brain). Let them beg for their mothers, their homes, their children.

~ Then there's the ones on the other side. Sometimes they'll still shoot at you. Sometimes they just keep talking at you. Sometimes they'll beg you to finish them off. Sometimes they'll talk to you about their families as if you were their best friend.

Ununiformed combatants amongst civilians: The civvies will duck and run when the shooting starts, but it's still not easy to differentiate non-combatant from bandit except by following the tracer rounds. A bustling bazaar can become an ambush at anytime!

Goddamned Children: Who the fuck brought kids into a war zone? Oh that's right. They live here. Note that the game records child casualties independently, and may penalize the player for them. RhombusHatesYou nailed most of this with the smiling, waving kid. Better still if the player gave the cute moppet some chocolate or a beanie-baby not five minutes ago.

~ Suicide children with grenades. Yes. The enemy trains them to run up to you with the live hand grenade and hug your leg. We have marines fucked up for life taking these rascals out.

~ The extra-special experience, child soldiers. Completely outlawed by the Geneva convention, but the insurgents are / tyrant is that desperate. Yes, you still get them counted against you when you gun them down. We don't care that they ARE armed with AKs and RPGs, and shoot rather straight.

Illegal Goddamn Orders: So the training camp you were supposed to reconnoiter turns out to be a village full of families with children.[1] Well, it's in the wrong place and needs to be cleared out (i.e. with prejudice). It's a classified operation, so no prisoners. Your country is counting on you; don't screw this up. By the way, that includes the journalists on site.

~ Oh and that munitions dump we have you spotting for an air strike? Actually that was a Red Cross mobile surgical hospital. War is hell.[2]

Most of these are not entirely the fault of devs and publishers, but wouldn't pass censorship muster. The ESRB for certain has decided that their duty to the consumer includes editing out anything that might upset someone's sensibilities. They scour games of traumatic crap so that the violence is clean and (ergo) glorified.

I think a game that arranges for this kind of grit would help to give people a bit of perspective, and would deconstruct the vet & noob paradigm defined by the publishers. Maybe some people would better understand why war is generally a thing to be avoided.

238U

[1] Hey, look! A couple just got married!
[2] When Blops and Blackwater came out, I imagined a military shooter in which your orders would always imply requiring you to commit horrible atrocities that you could avoid with cleverness and puzzle solving in order to complete the mission. Sadly neither of these games were that.

Uriel-238:
It's about fucking time someone else noticed.

Granted the COD series was never about "modern warfare", but an extension of the original COD paradigm to a pseudo-modern setting. It was popular, and thus it spawned sequels and will continue doing so until it runs out of sharks to jump.

I think RhombusHatesYou nailed it, though he listed a number of features I wouldn't necessarily include. Here's some features I think we're sorely missing from a gritty shooter:

IEDs by the sackful: One way to do this is just to make the occasional civilian walk up to the player (or a VIP) and explode with enough punch to toss a tank. Let this happen enough times and the player will take seriously anyone who gets too close to him, or will gun down everyone hoping Allah will know His own.

~ Occasionally, a throughway or courtyard will be wired to blow if anyone goes through it. The trap may be difficult or even impossible to spot. Only by reloading and respawning (i.e. by the grace of being the protagonist) does the player know not to go there.

~ An old video game classic! Send the player in with a bunch of support that is inconveniently taken out by IEDs. Then let him shoot his way out.

~ The WWII version of this was Ar-fucking-tillery, though there are a number of sources of death-from-somewhere-without-warning. The sniper who you never find before he kills half your squad is still part of the fun.

Casualties who aren't quite dead yet: As per RhombusHatesYou's screaming-for-a-medivac idea, people who are blown apart and aren't quite in shock enough to recognize they really shouldn't be alive. Let them beg the player for help. Let them cry like a baby (literally -- they do that and it still rattles your brain). Let them beg for their mothers, their homes, their children.

~ Then there's the ones on the other side. Sometimes they'll still shoot at you. Sometimes they just keep talking at you. Sometimes they'll beg you to finish them off. Sometimes they'll talk to you about their families as if you were their best friend.

Ununiformed combatants amongst civilians: The civvies will duck and run when the shooting starts, but it's still not easy to differentiate non-combatant from bandit except by following the tracer rounds. A bustling bazaar can become an ambush at anytime!

Goddamned Children: Who the fuck brought kids into a war zone? Oh that's right. They live here. Note that the game records child casualties independently, and may penalize the player for them. RhombusHatesYou nailed most of this with the smiling, waving kid. Better still if the player gave the cute moppet some chocolate or a beanie-baby not five minutes ago.

~ Suicide children with grenades. Yes. The enemy trains them to run up to you with the live hand grenade and hug your leg. We have marines fucked up for life taking these rascals out.

~ The extra-special experience, child soldiers. Completely outlawed by the Geneva convention, but the insurgents are / tyrant is that desperate. Yes, you still get them counted against you when you gun them down. We don't care that they ARE armed with AKs and RPGs, and shoot rather straight.

Illegal Goddamn Orders: So the training camp you were supposed to reconnoiter turns out to be a village full of families with children.[1] Well, it's in the wrong place and needs to be cleared out (i.e. with prejudice). It's a classified operation, so no prisoners. Your country is counting on you; don't screw this up. By the way, that includes the journalists on site.

~ Oh and that munitions dump we have you spotting for an air strike? Actually that was a Red Cross mobile surgical hospital. War is hell.[2]

Most of these are not entirely the fault of devs and publishers, but wouldn't pass censorship muster. The ESRB for certain has decided that their duty to the consumer includes editing out anything that might upset someone's sensibilities. They scour games of traumatic crap so that the violence is clean and (ergo) glorified.

I think a game that arranges for this kind of grit would help to give people a bit of perspective, and would deconstruct the vet & noob paradigm defined by the publishers. Maybe some people would better understand why war is generally a thing to be avoided.

238U

Agreed. I say we make the game that you and Rhombus propose but up the ante to Eva levels of darkness and cruelty. Honestly, we may have to make a game that literally break the player. Games are like Theater plays that you are in; if Theater is supposed to hold a mirror to the world and show its own flaws, I say let us crush the confortable lives that people have by holding a mirror to the pain that many experience in war and never relent with it.

[1] Hey, look! A couple just got married!
[2] When Blops and Blackwater came out, I imagined a military shooter in which your orders would always imply requiring you to commit horrible atrocities that you could avoid with cleverness and puzzle solving in order to complete the mission. Sadly neither of these games were that.

BloodSquirrel:

This is not to disparage the U.S. military in any way - they're the best in the world and have tried their hardest in every conflict I've mentioned - but we've entered an era of world politics that makes it very difficult to unambiguously win a conflict.

The idea that such a thing as as a cleanly won war ever existed is a fantasy.

Historically speaking, wars came in three flavors:

1) Wars to completely wipe out an opponent. And I don't mean their military; I mean sacking their cities, enslaving anyone who was valuable as a slave, killing the rest, and salting the Earth.

2) Wars followed by occupation, wherein minor rebellions and occasional troops being lost in the business of keep your boot on somebody's neck were considered normal and an acceptable cost.

3) Wars that amounted to punching another country in the nose to demand some sort of concession, or to simply loot and run. Usually followed by more wars, since the opponent is still standing and still has conflicting interests.

If you think that WWII was some kind of a happy success story compared to Iraq then you need to read some more history books. Germany was destroyed. Millions upon millions of Germans were killed, including civilians. Cities were left in ruble, their industry bombed to hell, and huge numbers of people were left destitute. We didn't just beat their army in an empty field, punch Hitler, and accept their surrender. Germany continued fighting long after victory was impossible, prolonging the death and destruction. By the time they surrendered it was because they had nothing left to fight with. De-nazification didn't happen overnight either.

By comparison there really isn't anything "ambiguous" about the US victory in the Iraq war; one government was removed and replaced with one more to the US's liking. The US achieved a level of stability considered acceptable and left. Any "ambiguity" comes from people who were imposing goals on it like "Make Iraq a super-happy paradise for all of time" which is something nobody has even achieved at home, much less could be realistically expected to achieve abroad.

Really, if anything, it's these romanticized notions of a "properly won" war that people should set out to deconstruct.

I see someone has studied history. Yeah, one of the things that really annoys me is the idea that warfare and politics tends to end up nice and neat. It's almost like middle school history. "This is why that happened, because X did Y." When you take a closer look at the real world it's more like, "X did this as a result of A, B, and C, while Y had serious problems with B and D that X ignored, while Z is putting pressure on Y because it is going against Z's interests when it comes to A and D, all the while X and Z cannot stand each other."

After World War II, one of the reasons why the victorious allies were able to rebuild Japan and Germany the way they wanted was because they were almost able to start from scratch. Government, infrastructure, military, influence, and even political ideologies were devastated by the massive impact of the war.

Hilariously, modern low intensity warfare often ends with most these factors intact. Then politicians come along and go "Well we changed these other countries in the past but even though the political, cultural, military, and economic situation is completely different that shouldn't be a problem should it?" What so many people do not get is that winning wars is simple, remaking an entire country is not and if other countries want to try influencing the outcome, well, things are about to get interesting.

Grey Carter:

Devoneaux:
I have one geivance with your piece, it is the use of Vietnam as an example of a technologically inferior foe acheiving victory.

The Vietnamese were supplied by the soviets who gave them weapons and assets that were on-par with the american tech and in some areas, even surpassed it.

True. Washington still hasn't fully recovered from those devastating napalm strikes.

Honestly I would have gone with Agent Orange poisoning that continued to affect people on both sides long after we left but that's just me.

Sure we had some things they didn't, but the technological gab really wasn't that big.

actually there are a couple worth checking out. while its not a great game up to modern standards its worth having a look at 7554 which was the first major game developed in vietnam and depicts the war against the frnch from the vietnamese perspective fps style

if you were after something more modern then have a look at combat mission shock force its a strategy/rts/tbs it manages to capture something the fps games dont and that is how damn lethal the modern battlefield is even against a "technologically inferior"opponent.

with the construction kit with it you can play battles from both sides and interestingly it depicts an invasion of syria more astounding in that it was made before the current civil war

its a damn hard game though. roll your tanks down that narrow street and boom, rpgs and IED's go off, dont support your infantry properly as they cross the road and a sniper or mg team slaughter them

Ishal:
Inb4 a certain infamous poster comes in to "educate" us why we shouldn't be so friendly with China or Russia.

IED's have claimed more lives than anything depicted in these modern warfare games, and for every soldier or civilian they kill, they leave 4X more amputees. IED's and mines are a surgeons nightmare. The problem isn't with just a loss of limb its also about the particulates that are thrown everywhere when the explosive goes off. Dirt, sand, shrapnel etc. All those things can lead to nasty infections in the open wounds. One of the more dangerous types of bacteria Clostridium Botulinum is found in dirt and can lead to death if not properly cleaned.

Afghanistan is one of the countries with the most landmines and hidden explosives in the world, along with Iraq. Most deaths are caused by hidden explosives, and it happens in seconds then its over. That is the reality, that is modern warfare. But it doesn't translate well into gameplay, so I doubt we'll see real modern warfare anytime soon in games.

I rarely ever play games like that anyway, I know the gameplay I want is over the top and unrealistic. Give me fictional guns and aliens to shoot. Halo and Destiny sound great. They aren't pretending to be something they are not.

Edit: Good read Rob. It's true it isn't even modern is it? Its like near future warfare. There is a term for that in literature and gaming... strange-real? I think?

I've found IED's and suicide bombers can be extremly effective in games to add tension and conflict (personal/choice rather than the gun). In ArmA 2 our group added random IED's and suicide bombers as well as normal civilians that wander around, so you can't just spot the bomber, and boy does it add tension.
Example:
Come to a stop outside of a town, get out and start hoofing it down the road to investigate, get to the town and find an armoured vehicle, so we run to the closest doorway, at the same time a civilian happens to start walking towards the door from the inside. This is the moment when we have to choose weather to take a gamble on the civilian not being a bomber or turning and fighting the armoured vehicle. You also can't just shoot the civi as 1: the bomb would still go off and 2: the mission is scripted to kick you if you kill more than a few civilians (have a few incase of accidental death). Other times where it's added memorable moments was the time we saw a TV on the side of the road heading into a town, we drive around it to avoid what we thought was an IED (outside of town, mostly fields), only to trigger off the actual IED on the other side of the road a few meters down because our attention was focused on the TV which wasn't an IED. Suffice to say we ceased to exist.
These moments both add tension, memorable moments to the game and does a good job at showing how screwed up it is for troops in those areas.

I remember saying a lot of similar things years ago, about how all these modern war games are becoming Jingoist Flag waving anti-Russo conspiracy theorist wet-dreams, and how it's affecting the people's perception of other countries.

15 year old kid plays call of duty, gets mad at singleplayer campaign because Russia is bombing America
*I'd also like to point out that while I despise Call of Duty, the story of MW2 was actually pretty good, but most players who don't pay attention to the story, would overlook the fact that in MW2, America WAS guilty of the airport massacre, because their own damn guy was alongside makarov shooting people* but anyway that's TL;DR. The point is , Kid develops a grudge against a Country and it's people just because of a video game

Kid grows up, and no thanks to biased news sources, becomes an intolerant Russophobe reminiscent of someone in the 70s or 80s.

Also if you play an ArmA game, *a modded one at least* you'll find no shortage of IED deaths. lol

A lot of the issues in the article have actually been addressed by games like ARMA. I rememeber long multiplayer sessions where a lot of the time was spent in convoy riding around in Humvees where suddenly the lead vehicle would go up in an RPG/IED explosion, a burst of fire from a DshK would slam into our vehicle from a concealed position a mile or so away while we desperately open up and having to deal with players who may or may not be the guys shooting at us as we adhere to our RoE and try and hunt down enough leads to find arms caches, but not blow up the arms caches belonging to the local warlord who was supporting us, despite the fact that HIS guys would roll up and just blast people for no reason.

Surprisingly fun gameplay.

Kastrenzo:
I remember saying a lot of similar things years ago, about how all these modern war games are becoming Jingoist Flag waving anti-Russo conspiracy theorist wet-dreams, and how it's affecting the people's perception of other countries.

15 year old kid plays call of duty, gets mad at singleplayer campaign because Russia is bombing America
*I'd also like to point out that while I despise Call of Duty, the story of MW2 was actually pretty good, but most players who don't pay attention to the story, would overlook the fact that in MW2, America WAS guilty of the airport massacre, because their own damn guy was alongside makarov shooting people* but anyway that's TL;DR. The point is , Kid develops a grudge against a Country and it's people just because of a video game

Kid grows up, and no thanks to biased news sources, becomes an intolerant Russophobe reminiscent of someone in the 70s or 80s.

Also if you play an ArmA game, *a modded one at least* you'll find no shortage of IED deaths. lol

its weird in a way. i grew up in the 80's (im 39) yet i dont know anyone around my age who because of that time hates the russians now or even then. sure you expected russian nukes to eventually start raining down and there was alot of distrust, but it was more a case of the soviet union being this nebulous threat that didnt really have a face rather than the russian people themselves.

i think part of that is because you only had tv news and thats pretty much it when it came to the soviet union. no net, etc really cut back on the amount of hate i would say

That was a good read, and those ideas are definitely something I'd be interested being implemented more in games. As much as I enjoy the CoD series for what it is, something that shows war more realistically, while perhaps wouldn't be a "fun" game would definitely be a worthwhile experience, provided the game is done well of course.

Seneschal:
To be fair, and I know nobody pays attention to the MW series' plot, but I always felt they were closer in spirit and atmosphere to Bond movies: British action-stars scour the globe, visit exotic locations, square off with the natives, attack bases, infiltrate submarines, all in pursuit of an elusive megalomaniac villain who plays the world's politics like a piano. It lacks a bit of camp and humour, but if you put David Arnold's music on during all the over-the-top action setpieces, it would suit them marvellously.

But we don't harp on Bond for bastardizing how intelligence and espionage works. I've never heard anyone say "I want Bond to be like Zero Dark Thirty; decades of flipping through papers, watching videos, listening to phone calls, barely-legal torture, and gathering evidence to send a Seal team after one man, THAT's what the spy life is all about". Well... yes, yes it is. And there's nothing objectionable about either the whimsical and fanciful approach, or the documentary-level-realism approach; it's only objectionable that someone would argue one of them is wrong or harmful to public perception, and should be supplanted by the other.

Rath doesn't try to argue that true realism should supplant what we have now. The title of the article makes it seem like he's attacking COD:Modern Warfare but really he's uses it as an example of how unrealistic modern military shooters are and criticises the lack of any mainstream alternatives that portray a more realistic version of modern war.

Alexnader:

Seneschal:
To be fair, and I know nobody pays attention to the MW series' plot, but I always felt they were closer in spirit and atmosphere to Bond movies: British action-stars scour the globe, visit exotic locations, square off with the natives, attack bases, infiltrate submarines, all in pursuit of an elusive megalomaniac villain who plays the world's politics like a piano. It lacks a bit of camp and humour, but if you put David Arnold's music on during all the over-the-top action setpieces, it would suit them marvellously.

But we don't harp on Bond for bastardizing how intelligence and espionage works. I've never heard anyone say "I want Bond to be like Zero Dark Thirty; decades of flipping through papers, watching videos, listening to phone calls, barely-legal torture, and gathering evidence to send a Seal team after one man, THAT's what the spy life is all about". Well... yes, yes it is. And there's nothing objectionable about either the whimsical and fanciful approach, or the documentary-level-realism approach; it's only objectionable that someone would argue one of them is wrong or harmful to public perception, and should be supplanted by the other.

Rath doesn't try to argue that true realism should supplant what we have now. The title of the article makes it seem like he's attacking COD:Modern Warfare but really he's uses it as an example of how unrealistic modern military shooters are and criticises the lack of any mainstream alternatives that portray a more realistic version of modern war.

But of all the people to blame for that--the marketers pushing realism and the other coy developers that lack to balls to do more than copy the leader--it's the people behind Call of Duty that catch the most flack; their creation is seen as the unmaking of gaming, and the mention of it is used as an insult. ("Stupid cod fanboy", etc.)

When, as far as spunkgargleweewee goes, CoD is by far the most sincere about being a stupid, fanciful action-romp. Battlefield, MoH and many others fall flat in comparison because they bring in a seriousness that makes no goddamn sense, especially considering they're all as shallow and as gleefully violent as a 90s PC shooter. Yes, it's stupid that, because they happen in modern times and not on Mars, they're perceived to have more significance and influence than Doom, but that's what the gaming industry's hype-machine is good at - taking infantile self-indulgent fantasies and selling them as the Second Coming.

Well Russians were the "bad guys" during the Cold War, so developers are taking the lazy option. "Oh its Russians. You know, Russians are always evil! Look at the Cold War!".

Hold on a second... Comforting... Call of Duty... Comforting...

... Must've missed that part.

They just release the same old tired shooting script we've seen and barely moved past since the likes of N64 Goldeneye. Every now and then games like Crysis and Far Cry come along and shake things up just a little.

I understand what you're saying, this arcade gameplay disguised as realistic and faithful to the subject matter... Just isn't most of the time. It shouldn't pretend to be, but there's no reason you can't have an arcade style shooter with respectful nods to reality, or even a simulation style game making minimum reference to real life conflict and being more or less complete fiction... Although even the craziest fantasy has it's roots firmly in reality.

... Comforting... Honestly? Ok it's a complete lie... Moving on.

Uriel-238:
It's about fucking time someone else noticed.

Granted the COD series was never about "modern warfare", but an extension of the original COD paradigm to a pseudo-modern setting. It was popular, and thus it spawned sequels and will continue doing so until it runs out of sharks to jump.

I think RhombusHatesYou nailed it, though he listed a number of features I wouldn't necessarily include. Here's some features I think we're sorely missing from a gritty shooter:

...snip...

I think adding one or two of such 'features' could allow players the usual power fantasies, but remind us that they are exactly that - fantasies.

The problem with portraying realistic war in media is that no sane person would want a realistic war experience. Movies and games about wars are heroic adventures in the same way as Indiana Jones or James Bond. Which I think is perfectly fine. The unsettling bit is that some people may start believing that they are realistic.

BloodSquirrel:

If you think that WWII was some kind of a happy success story compared to Iraq then you need to read some more history books. Germany was destroyed. Millions upon millions of Germans were killed, including civilians. Cities were left in ruble, their industry bombed to hell, and huge numbers of people were left destitute. We didn't just beat their army in an empty field, punch Hitler, and accept their surrender. Germany continued fighting long after victory was impossible, prolonging the death and destruction. By the time they surrendered it was because they had nothing left to fight with. De-nazification didn't happen overnight either.

This is kind of off topic to what you were saying, but it wasn't just Germany. All of Europe was in rubble. That's why everything there is modern and new and more efficient for the modern age (unlike most places in the US). They literally had to rebuild EVERYTHING. That was the sole reason the 50s and 60s were so prosperous for the US-- there was simply no one to compete with economically. Even the Soviet Union was in shambles and, in my educated opinion, had the allies seen fit to do it, it wouldn't have been that difficult to steamroll them and remove the Soviet Bloc once and for all.

BloodSquirrel:

rayen020:
what's impressive is how tightly we grasp to that fantasy. Who remembers 7 days in Fallujah? a true story about real events and people and the costs. Could've been great, could've helped us understand what was happening and why and how we were fighting.

Nope slather it scandal, decry it, cause uproar, and shut it down. It is sad that we as a nation cannot and actively do not face the consequences of our actions.

6 Days in Fallujah was shot down because the public didn't trust video games to deal with important subject matter without it being exploitive. It had nothing to do with not wanting to face the subject matter, it was because people thought it was going to be a big dumb shooter trivializing a real conflict. Probably because video games don't have the best track record in that area.

Is it just me, or does that seem like a massive self-fulfilling prophecy? "Video games can't be about serious issues because we won't give them the chance to prove they can be about serious issues!"

Jacco:

This is kind of off topic to what you were saying, but it wasn't just Germany. All of Europe was in rubble. That's why everything there is modern and new and more efficient for the modern age (unlike most places in the US). They literally had to rebuild EVERYTHING. That was the sole reason the 50s and 60s were so prosperous for the US-- there was simply no one to compete with economically. Even the Soviet Union was in shambles and, in my educated opinion, had the allies seen fit to do it, it wouldn't have been that difficult to steamroll them and remove the Soviet Bloc once and for all.

Most of the stuff in the US isn't that old. The US has had a lot of urban expansion a lot since the 50s.

Samantha Burt:

Is it just me, or does that seem like a massive self-fulfilling prophecy? "Video games can't be about serious issues because we won't give them the chance to prove they can be about serious issues!"

It's less a self-fulling prophecy and more of a preconception that the industry tends to play towards. And ultimately, if the industry wants to tackle serious, contentious issues, it needs to be prepared to stand up to pressure, not fold like an accordion.

Grey Carter:

Devoneaux:
I have one geivance with your piece, it is the use of Vietnam as an example of a technologically inferior foe acheiving victory.

The Vietnamese were supplied by the soviets who gave them weapons and assets that were on-par with the american tech and in some areas, even surpassed it.

True. Washington still hasn't fully recovered from those devastating napalm strikes.

Or the massed Nazi bombing raids the US suffered during WWII. Laid waste to the whole of the East coast so I hear.

OT: Probably wouldn't be a particularly fun game, but I can see the merit in it.

Robert Rath:

"Russia has a lot of problems including clandestine authoritarianism and a penchant for backing nasty leaders like the Kim regime and Bashar al-Assad in order to oppose U.S. interests,"

Is this not a little one sided? The US and UK seem to have no issue supporting Bahrain and Saudi dictators through their human rights abuses. Id also argue that from Europe some of the Americans "authoritarianism" (Gitmo, heavy handedness with whistle blowers, rendition and big sentences that threaten people for tech crimes, the patriot act, prism, I could go on) seem down right draconian. Even today the escapist is running this example of American tolerance

I think the lack of other perspectives (and the insistance on playing American soldiers) comes from American stubborness in not wanting to see others perspective. In the UK I can see TV etc. from America, Australia and others. In American you rarely screen other nations media, as is, you make a new version replacing everyone with Americans. The office, Top Gear, Being Human, the list goes on.

So is it any wonder shooters are filled with American soldiers? I was shocked that COD allowed me to play as Russian and British. I believe "Soap", the British member of the SAS protagonist, only got the clear because he was mostly mute and immediately transfered to a multinational task force where nearly everyone else was America. Americans dont seem ready to see another perspective other than American and theyre a huge market.

Even out of FPS's. In Dishonoured, which "feels" like victorian England, everyone sounds American. X-COM is a multinational task force but your soldiers all sound American no matter what their nationality. Shit, even the Prince of Persia was a white American...

I think FPS is the wrong place to look for realism and most people know this. We all know army life has lots of waiting, walking streets, waiting around at base, lots of travel, where nothing happens. This doesnt make for good gaming. Thats why we get shoot outs, regenerating health and sights that work the same at any range instead.

Grey Carter:

Devoneaux:
I have one geivance with your piece, it is the use of Vietnam as an example of a technologically inferior foe acheiving victory.

The Vietnamese were supplied by the soviets who gave them weapons and assets that were on-par with the american tech and in some areas, even surpassed it.

True. Washington still hasn't fully recovered from those devastating napalm strikes.

This is why it's impossible to argue on the escapist. Someone brings up a tidbit that disagrees with your preconceptions and you react with snark and dismissal.

The Vietnamese weren't a technologically inferior foe. True, the Viet Cong were basically peasants armed with punji sticks and whatever loose firarms they could get ahold of, but a lot of the time the US was facing against the regular army. The regular army armed with then-state-of-the-art Soviet hardware, and put in the hands of battle-hardend veterans who knew the terrain, and knew the people. While we couldn't figure out our asses from our elbows and thought turning the countryside into a moonscape was progress.

Jacco:

BloodSquirrel:

If you think that WWII was some kind of a happy success story compared to Iraq then you need to read some more history books. Germany was destroyed. Millions upon millions of Germans were killed, including civilians. Cities were left in ruble, their industry bombed to hell, and huge numbers of people were left destitute. We didn't just beat their army in an empty field, punch Hitler, and accept their surrender. Germany continued fighting long after victory was impossible, prolonging the death and destruction. By the time they surrendered it was because they had nothing left to fight with. De-nazification didn't happen overnight either.

This is kind of off topic to what you were saying, but it wasn't just Germany. All of Europe was in rubble. That's why everything there is modern and new and more efficient for the modern age (unlike most places in the US). They literally had to rebuild EVERYTHING. That was the sole reason the 50s and 60s were so prosperous for the US-- there was simply no one to compete with economically. Even the Soviet Union was in shambles and, in my educated opinion, had the allies seen fit to do it, it wouldn't have been that difficult to steamroll them and remove the Soviet Bloc once and for all.

You, I, Napoleon, and Hitler all know that getting involved in a land war with Russia is always a bad idea.

Elijah Newton:
[snip]

If I was king of the world someone would be calling you right now, offering to throw buckets of money at you to inform a new game. Personally, I think it's only a matter of time before someone makes a game like that, and once someone gets the formula for something like that right history will look at the current franchises with the same bemused tolerance / embarassment modern movie audiences give the WWII "Why We Fight" films.

That is a fascinating perspective on these types of games. I was thinking of them as "reality show" games but I like your representation better.

But empowerment is actually one of the things that CoDMW does not seem to want to give to the player.

All throughout the campaign, the player tumbles, falls, slides and is chased just inches past disaster, they are knocked out, even outright killed, and most of the time have little control over where they go. The floor gives out under them, their helicopter crashes, whole buildings collapse and take the player with them. THAT is what makes CoDMW actually a pretty intriguing storytelling medium. Yes, I play MW for the storyline.

Great article. I feel the need to add though that by its very definition "realism" can never be actual reality. Thus, realism is not a portrayal of reality, but rather a set of signs that re-enforces our own per-existing set of ideologies and beliefs. The reason realism is so big in gaming nowadays is -as the article states- because it is a comforting lie. That is, it allows us to believe we are justified in ongoing warfares, it allows us to believe the soldiers have control over the situations that they find themselves in, and can survive with enough skill.

The opposite is true. Soldiers follow the orders of their commanders, and while many can be and are true heroes, often as not, no amount of expertise or training could have saved the lives of those who died. Perhaps because they were ambushed, perhaps because they were given badly thought-out orders, but sometimes death is inevitable.

Monsterfurby:
But empowerment is actually one of the things that CoDMW does not seem to want to give to the player.

All throughout the campaign, the player tumbles, falls, slides and is chased just inches past disaster, they are knocked out, even outright killed, and most of the time have little control over where they go. The floor gives out under them, their helicopter crashes, whole buildings collapse and take the player with them. THAT is what makes CoDMW actually a pretty intriguing storytelling medium. Yes, I play MW for the storyline.

You do not seem to understand the idea of projection in storytelling, so let me explain: the MW games invite the player not to be immersed into the game, but rather to project onto the player/character. I use the slash knowingly, as to distinguish it from the kenning: player-character. The difference is subtle, so I will not go into it here. If indeed the games wished to portray the reality of death then, as soon as the player/character died, the console would shut down and never turn on again. Or, something along those lines. Instead, the player encounters the forced death, then moves with a god-like omniscience into another character, who may or may not die. This actually undermines the finality of death itself, rather than confirming it.

Also, you play MW for the story? That is like saying you listen to Niki Minaj for her artistic integrity. You do not seem to understand what a story -at its fundamental level- is, if you actually believe that modern warfare actually has one. MW simply has a string of unfounded and non-contextualized notions that it throws at the player, not a story.

Robert Rath:
Modern Warfare is a Comforting Lie

If a game claims to be about modern warfare, then shouldn't it represent that warfare realistically?

Read Full Article

1) It isn't about modern day warfare, it's about a war that takes place in the modern day. There's a difference; one is a topic, the other is a setting.

2) No, it shouldn't treat war realistically, because it's a goddamned video game. To expect a game to be true to real life is silly, unless you're playing a simulation.

3) Where was this article on why WW2 should be treated realistically? Where's the article on why Tom Clancy games are "disrespectful of the subject matter?"

This whole article is a load, the only reason it exists in the first place is because CoD is popular now, and it's "cool" to hate on popular things. This is just dressing it up in academic sounding jargon.

Probably the worst article I have ever read on the Escapist.

Why are IED's not included in video GAMES? Because they don't make sense in a FPS context. While most Iraq or Afghanistan vets probably know someone who was hit with an IED, still it's not like it's happened to the majority thankfully. If it was actual gameplay, it would just be a random game over, from which a player would restart and move on. And if it happens in some big pre-animated cut scene, is it really different than in video games where your chopper crashes or the road is blocked, so now the mandatory vehicle section is over? And this all over looking the most important part. IED's hit vehicles during boring times. Most convoys don't get attacked, so to accurately reflect the true devastation of having your friends die during a routine commute, you would need the player to just drive a truck or Humvee somewhere, hour after hour, and randomly, so possibly never for some players, they would get hit by an IED.

Games would be more realistic if characters also had to have bowel movements once in awhile. But that would be a pretty boring or very juvenile aspect of a game. Games exist to entertain, and players PLAY them. Mixed forces throughout history have found it's often hard to avoid friendly fire. In a game, either it wouldn't matter, and thus the friendly fire aspect becomes trivial and borderline sociopathic, or players would simply restart a level, until they got frustrated and quit.

Oh waaa, games don't treat the Russians nicely enough. It's not like they are backing Assad or Iran or recently invaded Georgia or anything. The Russians are not our friends.

This is just like feminists complaining that there aren't enough games made by or for women. Games didn't just fall into men's or American's laps. If some indie studio of Iranians wants to portray their side of the horror of the Iran Iraq war, that would be perfectly fine. But how many other sides should US studios have to make?

This is really an indictment of our school system than an argument about what should go into games. By that logic we should make games primarily about science and math because that's where Americans are really lagging behind.

Our tech has given us a tremendous edge. It obviously can't cover all military and strategic mistakes, but games don't incorporate those aspects to begin with. We don't have a game that combines the Sims with Civilization with a RTS with a FPS.

If the author applied the same standard from Iraq to WWII they would not say we won that war either, because reconstruction was violent and long as well.

Very few people would argue that tech is the only thing that matters. If it was, there would be no point to most RTS games or many others, because the way to win would simply stay technologically ahead of the enemy, strategy and production wouldn't matter.

The British could have afforded far more Isandlwana-esque conflicts than the Zulus could. Their casualties were atrocious and hit the Zulu nation far harder than the British losses affected Britain. even repeating it 4 times would have left 5,000 of the 125,000 Zulu men dead and another 10,000 wounded. This would have greatly impacted farming and would have had long term impacts. Meanwhile the British would have lost 3000 men, from a population of 5,750,000 men. Nor would it have impacted British farming.

In Afghanistan, the Russians were actually easily crushing the Afghanis until the US decided to give them Red Eye and few Stinger missiles.

Ryan Hughes:

You do not seem to understand the idea of projection in storytelling, so let me explain...

Also, you play MW for the story? That is like saying you listen to Niki Minaj for her artistic integrity. You do not seem to understand what a story -at its fundamental level- is, if you actually believe that modern warfare actually has one. MW simply has a string of unfounded and non-contextualized notions that it throws at the player, not a story.

I am not sure what exactly in what I have written warrants such a condescending answer. Look, there is such a thing as subjectivity. I wrote about my personal experience with the game, that may be supplemented by my own imagination and the way I consume media. Do not presume that your own limited view of such things applies to everyone else.

Very tempted to stoop to your level, but I will leave it at that.

Monsterfurby:

Ryan Hughes:

You do not seem to understand the idea of projection in storytelling, so let me explain...

Also, you play MW for the story? That is like saying you listen to Niki Minaj for her artistic integrity. You do not seem to understand what a story -at its fundamental level- is, if you actually believe that modern warfare actually has one. MW simply has a string of unfounded and non-contextualized notions that it throws at the player, not a story.

I am not sure what exactly in what I have written warrants such a condescending answer. Look, there is such a thing as subjectivity. I wrote about my personal experience with the game, that may be supplemented by my own imagination and the way I consume media. Do not presume that your own limited view of such things applies to everyone else.

Very tempted to stoop to your level, but I will leave it at that.

Well, if you do not understand, I will say it straight out:
The fact that you like MW's story means that you disgust me on a moral and philosophical level.

Capcha: point-blank

Ryan Hughes:

Well, if you do not understand, I will say it straight out:
The fact that you like MW's story means that you disgust me on a moral and philosophical level.

Capcha: point-blank

Wow, you have... issues.

Captcha: send packing

It's sentient already...

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