The Lazy Storytelling of Modern Games of Warfare

The Lazy Storytelling of Modern Games of Warfare

Using foreign aggression as a theme for war games is just lazy storytelling. But the tide may finally be turning.

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And so "spunkgargleweewee" dies, not with a bang, but with a choking and disturbingly liquid cough.

Also, the idealism of fighting WWII instead of modern wars will probably last until we get a glut of games about fighting aliens I think will come over the next couple years.

Thunderous Cacophony:
And so "spunkgargleweewee" dies, not with a bang, but with a choking and disturbingly liquid cough.

Also, the idealism of fighting WWII instead of modern wars will probably last until we get a glut of games about fighting aliens I think will come over the next couple years.

This is the impression I get as well. World War II is just the filler war for when we're bored of one. Bored of all the PMC nonsense in the early 00s? Oh hi World War II! Oh wait Halo 3 is becoming one of the best selling games of the decade? Time for alien warfare, woo!

As much as I like World War II games, it seems very obvious that they only get made because they require the least world building and least in put into the story (as suggested).

Advanced Warfare is (looking) like the right side of class warfare than Black Ops II? Wow. I'll wait until it comes out and smile with glee at the inevitable rip off session that AW's going to come.

Plus if I remember right, Black Ops II

The trouble with war games is that they tend to insist on being at least grounded in reality by definition. So you can have a game about a real war that actually happened, or you can have a game about a hypothetical war that could happen twenty minutes into the future (as TV Tropes puts it), but a game about a purely fictitious war set a few decades ago? Well that's just crazy, innit? But there's also a pretty small window where real wars were actually interesting enough to make a game about, and most of it was occupied by wars where neither side was The Good Guys. Go back further than World War II and you have that awful trench warfare, and before that you have shitty guns that only fire one shot at a time and take a full minute to reload.

Hence, you never have first-person action games about the American Civil War, despite the interesting narrative possibilities and a built-in audience of people like my dad, let alone one about the English Civil War or the War of the Roses or the Napoleonic Wars (aka World War Zero). Alternate history gives you a little more leeway, assuming the point of divergence is some event that most of your players are already familiar with enough to have an idea of what to expect from a world where things went differently (e.g. the Confederacy wins their independence and right to keep owning slaves; Napoleon succeeds in establishing a pan-European French Empire). Then you can make up a new war to set in your reimagined 20th Century and have both an original setting and the fun toys we've come to expect.

I know enough or Yatzhee's wank schedule that I could become his butler by this point.

Aliens do make for the perfect villain, though. No cumbersome ethical or historical baggage, just mean outsiders that must be stopped.

Come to think of it, a lighter alien invasion would probably be one of the most unifying experiences in the history of our species. An extra-terrestial not trying too hard to wipe us out would probably do us more good than harm, if it unites the entire planet outwards.

Provided they aren't quite clever enough to divide and conquer.

I enjoyed the WW2 fps games as the history added a lot to it. Its why i hate all these MW etc games, they just seem to say "Merica FUCK YEAH" and thats it. No real story or anything. Now, if they made a Cod game where you were stuck behind enemy lines and it was more you surviving to get back to base....maybe set it in Iraq or Afghanistan. I would even add food, water and injuries to really make an impact in one mans fight to get home. That would be a Cod game i would buy. The new Cod game set in the future just looks boring, a by the numbers gameplay - they need to go back to reality and real world conflict. Gritty and deadly.

Granted the war in both Iraq and Afghanistan are fairly new and a lot of soldiers died. But i think if they made the game realistic it will give a new respect to what those soldiers went through. I remember playing the beach landings in the cod ww2 games, waiting on the boat, seeing ai characters being sick or praying, watching other boats get shot up and bombed. Personally it was terrifying to think real people had the bravery to charge up that beach. I wonder if they same could be done for those modern wars?

Very interesting views here.

Before videogames had the power to summon any war they wished, and thus before we could use them as a cultural barometer, another war was very much the darling of mass-entertainment: the Vietnam War. Directly or indirectly (in its over-simplified but recurrently used structure of "stronger good guys get beat up by primitive bad guys"), that war was present in a lot of movies, TV series, and even comics throughout the late 70s, 80s and early 90s.

Putting aside the obvious differences in what's to be read in that or WWII, there is in both cases a clear "glamourization" (if I may) of war and warfare, which is of course also unapologetically present in spunkgargleweewee. That constance, in itself, is a cultural symptom I find very hard to look away from.

I don't know what you're talking about Yahtzee, Battlefield 4's single player was nothing but creative. Playing as an American, you could save the world by shooting both Russians and Chinese alike! There was also a great sacrifice at the end that you could choose of three very memorable characters. And you could replay the ending so that you could sacrifice one of the other characters, making the ending so much more meaningful and stuff. DICE is evidence of creative developers still contributing to the genre.

What's really stupid about the anti-immigration movement is that new immigrants are what drive growing economies. If your population stagnates, growth does too.

Thunderous Cacophony:
And so "spunkgargleweewee" dies, not with a bang, but with a choking and disturbingly liquid cough.

Whilst hanging itself on a doorknob in order to make its wanking more interesting.

Anyway whenever a genre tries to bring up "realism" as a positive or selling point I'm reminded of a child trying to act like an adult only to reveal himself as horrendously juvenile. Of course, while most media tries to use "realism" as an excuse for a narrative being utterly banal or dull, gaming uses it in an attempt to sound "mature" before then engaging in something NOT realistic thus contradicting itself. This is why I've always found more outlandish forms of entertainment more appealing due to their honesty in what they are and the fact that they can build more interesting worlds and characters.

Yahtzee Croshaw:
It's hard enough to unquestioningly support a massive well-funded military force crushing under-equipped militants, but when one side is risking their lives and the other isn't, you might as well be trying to recut Aliens to make the humans look like the bad guys.

James Cameron beat you to it, and called Avatar.
OT: Good on Yahtzee for dialing it back on the political commentary and illuminating what he finds wrong with "spunkgargleweewee", a term he's likely to not use much in the future. I thought it odd Yahtzee didn't spend much time on his E3 review ripping into CoD and Battlefield's next installments.

SonOfVoorhees:
I enjoyed the WW2 fps games as the history added a lot to it. Its why i hate all these MW etc games, they just seem to say "Merica FUCK YEAH" and thats it. No real story or anything. Now, if they made a Cod game where you were stuck behind enemy lines and it was more you surviving to get back to base....maybe set it in Iraq or Afghanistan. I would even add food, water and injuries to really make an impact in one mans fight to get home. That would be a Cod game i would buy. The new Cod game set in the future just looks boring, a by the numbers gameplay - they need to go back to reality and real world conflict. Gritty and deadly.

Granted, Battlefield and CoD got started as WWII games before going "modern, gritty, & realistic."

mrdude2010:
What's really stupid about the anti-immigration movement is that new immigrants are what drive growing economies. If your population stagnates, growth does too.

Not when you set up an expansive social safety net. In which case, poor immigrants that will immediately fall into the net are a major net drain.

War. Huh. Good god, y'all. What is it good for? Resolving differences between governments, overthrowing regimes that have lost the support of the people, and accelerating the advance of technology by several degrees through the added mandate of competition. What, you mean besides that? Well, it's not terribly good for ensuring that the maximum number of people are alive at any one time, but I don't see what's so bad about that

this would be funny if I didn't think he was completly serious

Aiddon:

Thunderous Cacophony:
And so "spunkgargleweewee" dies, not with a bang, but with a choking and disturbingly liquid cough.

This is why I've always found more outlandish forms of entertainment more appealing due to their honesty in what they are and the fact that they can build more interesting worlds and characters.

call me shallow but I like my nice black and white easy to digest wars, like Mass Effect, Edge of Tomorrow or even Wolfenstein (aside from the fact it drives home how effed up the natzis are while not coming across as trite and ham fisted)

Muspelheim:

Aliens do make for the perfect villain, though. No cumbersome ethical or historical baggage, just mean outsiders that must be stopped.
.

particually given that most notable alien invasions are "hive minds" (ME and XCOM) its ok to kill them if they have no induviduality

as for an aliean invasion being a "good" thing I can see the logic...that said I'd rather we found some other way to unite....I don't have the stomach to think about human casulties

Steve the Pocket:
(e.g. the Confederacy wins their independence and right to keep owning slaves; .

off topic but how would have gone? I can't imagine slave ownership remaining an acceptied practice into 2014

Steve the Pocket:

I'd love this. On the other hand, I doubt that the world is ready for a full-on alternate history setting that isn't supported by sci-fi. A 1950's version of Bear and Dragon is going to hit a conceptual blind spot with a lot of people.

Steve the Pocket:

Hence, you never have first-person action games about the American Civil War, despite the interesting narrative possibilities and a built-in audience of people like my dad,

I'm going to controdict you a little. There was a game called "Darkest of Days" a couple years ago that allowed you to travel through time, and one of the major sections involved the American Civil War. For the sake of not messing up the past, they usally made you fight in the real battles with actual period weapons. Except when your buddy from the future gave you a futuristic machine gun and told you to go nuts....and it doesn't seem to damage the timeline or bother anyone from the past that you, someone they don't know, has a gun they've never seen before.

It had some nice ideas, but the execution was pretty iffy.

Yahtzee, have you ever stopped and deconstructed your own views on foreign affairs and warfare? All the SJW complaints about the West should be shouted 100 times louder at its enemies. Call it bullying and a "difference of opinion" all you want, but you're tearing down the side that is for silly little things like women's suffrage, basic human rights for the lgbt community and freedom of religion.

Also, I know, we're all meany pants for using drones and other advanced technology. But the other alternative is more dead soldiers.

Vault101:

off topic but how would have gone? I can't imagine slave ownership remaining an acceptied practice into 2014

I'd imagine, should the Confederacy have survived the Civil War, a lot of what we accept as "common social norms" wouldn't exist today, or if they did, would exist in a lite form.

On-topic, I am with Yahtzee on this, it'll be nice to see games step away from modern wars. I'm actually (hesitantly) looking forward to Hardline. That being said, I wouldn't necessarily mind a Modern Warfare style game, but set in something like the old Ace Combat universe, where you could set up a fictional nation to play as an actual evil empire.

Filthy liberal hippy!

But to be serious, I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with modern warfare games (I refuse to use "the term" because its a load of bollocks), it's just that we never get a fair look at the opposing sides. Or rather, a detailed fair look, because COD and Battlefield have somewhat gone out of their way to show things from another perspective, albeit not as effectively as they could have. Or has everyone forgotten that the ultimate enemy of COD's MW arc was American and was taken down by a combination of British and Russian forces? I say have a modern warfare game about America keeping the peace somewhere and have the conflict shown through the eyes of US peacekeepers (complete with individuals disagreeing over the purpose and point of it all) and the locals (complete with individuals disagreeing over the invasion and how to deal with it). You know, like actual wars have numerous and complex factors!

I also say we need WW2 games from the Axis perspectives for the same reason, but that won't be happening any time soon.

AtheistConservative:
Yahtzee, have you ever stopped and deconstructed your own views on foreign affairs and warfare? All the SJW complaints about the West should be shouted 100 times louder at its enemies. Call it bullying and a "difference of opinion" all you want, but you're tearing down the side that is for silly little things like women's suffrage, basic human rights for the lgbt community and freedom of religion.

Women's suffrage, basic human rights for the LGBT community and freedom of religion isn't provided by the West's allies in UAE, while the US and Britain was perfectly OK with dismantling Iran's democratic government and setting up the dictatorial Shah. Hell, even when my own country (Bangladesh) was fighting for democracy against the Pakistani military regime back in '71, Reagan was backing them, not us. Let's not pretend that ideologies are the dividing lines of wars.

See this is why Mercenaries: Playground of Destruction (not the terrible sequel World in Flames)was such a good game. It just cut the crap and delivered a pretty cynical and surprisingly honest look at war and the motivations that sustain it.

in that you ARE the Private Military Company, and your motivation is clearly money. The different armies fighting against North Korean forces take shots at each other as much as the NKs, and the game involves several interesting missions such as ferrying journalists around, and driving into hostile territory to rescue a downed aircrew specifically because their faction is unable to do so.

The moral ambiguity of the well-crafted conflict permeates the entire story, and left me wishing more war games would do the same. Granted, this was at the time that MOH was approaching it's height of sappy patriotic sludge. Games like Spec Ops have shown there is at least a glimmer of hope these days.

deathmothon:

mrdude2010:
What's really stupid about the anti-immigration movement is that new immigrants are what drive growing economies. If your population stagnates, growth does too.

Not when you set up an expansive social safety net. In which case, poor immigrants that will immediately fall into the net are a major net drain.

That's the thing though, illegal immigrants can't obtain benefits because they're, well, illegal, and most legal immigrants have some sort of relevant skill to bring to the job market. There are both drains and boosts, but overall it's either net neutral or positive, aside from Germany, which has a lot of foreign born pensioners who came over decades ago from Turkey and the USSR. It's certainly not overwhelmingly positive, but remember that current economic impact also isn't the only think we're looking at. A country's populace has to grow to support the older population, and if the birthrate in a given country isn't high enough, those people have to come from outside.

sources:
http://migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/briefings/fiscal-impact-immigration-uk
http://immigration.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000788
http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21579482-new-study-shows-fiscal-impact-migration-broadly-neutral-boon-or

Oh, man! I wish for the decline of the spunkgargleweewees to be true. But I won't be certain until I see the next CoD release reviewed.

Vault101:

Steve the Pocket:
(e.g. the Confederacy wins their independence and right to keep owning slaves; .

off topic but how would have gone? I can't imagine slave ownership remaining an acceptied practice into 2014

Well, maybe something like this:

or this:

PS: These are just satires. Please take them with a grain of salt.

you might as well be trying to recut Aliens to make the humans look like the bad guys

Hey! It worked for "Maleficent," didn't it?

We'll see how well Advanced Warfare sells, and whether or not Hardline is the sign of things to come, or just EA trying to pass of an expansion pack as a full game, before the success of Advanced Warfare makes them abandon cops and robbers in a hurried attempt to cash in by puking out "Battlefield 2142: More Advanced Than The Other Guy - Warfare."

Darth_Payn:
I thought it odd Yahtzee didn't spend much time on his E3 review ripping into CoD and Battlefield's next installments.

Pretty much because there was not enough single-player gameplay for ripping them properly.

 

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